Oh my, oh my, oh my. So, I have some wonderful chocolate secrets to tell that I've discovered in the last little while. First....... Ben's Cookies!
BEN'S CHOCOLATE CHUNK COOKIES
2 1/4 cups bread flour
1/2-1 tsp salt (to your preference)
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup unsalted butter (2 cubes) - melted over low heat
1/4 cup caster sugar (caster sugar is superfine sugar - almost powder - I didn't have any the other day so I just used the normal granulated)
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
1 egg yolk
2 tbsp milk
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1 cup chocolate chips or chunks!! (chunks preferred - more comments on this later)
1 cup toasted nuts (optional)
In a medium sized mixing bowl, stir together dry ingredients (flour, salt, soda). Set aside.
Pour melted butter into a large mixing bowl. Add both caster and brown sugar; cream on medium speed. Slowly add in eggs, milk and vanilla extract and mix until well combined.
Slowly mix in dry ingredients (1/3 at a time to avoid spillage). Stir in chocolate chunks and nuts.
Chill the dough for at least an hour.
Scoop onto baking sheets - use an ice cream scoop if you'd like - you'll want about that size (6 cookies per sheet).
Bake at 375 F for about 14 minutes or until edges are golden brown. Rotate the baking sheet half way through for even browning. Remove cookies immediately from baking sheet to cooling rack when you take out. But don't let them cool for too long! They are best warm! (Even though you can reheat for 15 seconds to rewarm). This recipe makes 18 cookies.
So, the first time I made these (yes, I've already made them twice in the past week), I had a big Hershey's Milk Chocolate Symphony Bar that was just sitting around, so I chopped it up and used that instead of chips. See, one of the things that makes Ben's cookies soooo good is that they use these incredibly huge chocolate melts and/or chocolate chunks in all of their cookies. So especially when the cookies are still warm, you bite in and it's all melty and chocolately goodness. I wanted to try to achieve that result. This turned out pretty well although the chocolate didn't stay gooey long enough.
The second time, I had some Green and Black's brand Mint Dark Chocolate, although only part of a bar. I chopped that up and supplemented with normal chocolate chips it was pretty good. However, I am still in search of the perfect chocolates to use in these cookies that will melt but still hold their shape, if that makes sense. I will keep you updated when I find them!
This is obviously just a basic recipe, but you can do lots of variations! Go to the Ben's website to see some of their flavors, and you'll get the idea. http://www.benscookies.com
So, it was interesting because the other day when I was on my cookie search I realized that, at least from what I could tell, the Ben's SLC Cookie Shop is the only one in the United States! (In fact, it's not even listed on their website). They were actually started in the UK and have about 8 shops there, and a smattering in Saudi Arabia - interesting. Who knew! The story is that a student from Utah getting his MBA at Oxford ran into the shop there, and couldn't get enough of it. He pitched the idea to put a shop in Salt Lake City and also in Orem, Utah. Well, doesn't look like the Orem one happened, but the Salt Lake shop is there. The plan was to grow it over time.... I'm not really sure what the status is on shop growth, but am currently inquiring. Anyway, go try the real deal sometime. You'll be glad you did!
UPDATE Mar 2010: These cookies are a hit! I'm officially never going back to any other recipe. Only change I've had to make is baking for exactly 13 minutes (I'm at 4500 altitude so I'm sure that varies the baking time a little). The fun part is once you get the basic recipe down, you can do a lot of different varieties. I'm still working on chocolate dough since the cocoa powder changes the consistency a little. Anyway, I've recently made big chocolate melts out of chocolate chips to put in the centers. The newest try is white chocolate cranberry - really tasty!
More chocolate on the way....