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5.22.2012

THE GREAT COOKIE QUEST :: the end! ::


thanks kaitlyn for the photos!

for my final act as high inquisitor of chocolate chips, i decided to throw a little cookie tasting party. swanky type stuff. i was curious to see how some of my favorites measured up against the discerning palates of my friends. also, any excuse to eat more cookies and decorate my apartment...

my mom and i ran around town wednesday morning collecting some of my favorite cookies, and then we threw together a few decorations and baked about seven million batches of cookies, just to be real thorough. my apartment smelled amaaaaaazing. and yes i WILL take a moment to brag here, because i made seven batches of cookies in one afternoon, and no i do not own a mixer. those butters were all creamed by hand. my intensely muscular hand. what else is a blog for if not for celebrating these kinds of accomplishments?

after the party i counted the votes, and of the professional bakeries, levain took first (duh), with city bakery at a close second, choco bolo at third. the momofuku compost cookie was the decided disappointment of the night. (which is weird because i LOVE those momofuku cookies.)

the top three scoring cookies of the night were all homemade. my friend janelle's cookie recipe won by a landslide, which is not surprisingly because she makes a killer chocolate chip cookie--so good even *i* couldn't screw it up. (it calls for both butter and shortening, and a generous sprinkling of flaky sea salt just before baking). ashley brought the number two cookie. she swears by the joy of cooking recipe in case you want to look it up. my personal favorite was a reader-submitted vegan recipe, which came in third. vegan! i'm completely obsessed with them. (recipe below!)


and now, for some light nerding: making that many batches of the same cookie in so many different variations was fascinating. i have never had so much fun in the kitchen. i kept shouting at my mother from the kitchen, "MOM! THIS IS INSANE!" the tiniest change in measurements create a hugely different cookie, each dough had an entirely different flavor and consistency, and required all different baking times, and always baked up in the most surprising ways. i mean, you know these things, but seeing it happen that many times really sent me over the edge. it was a very science-y moment for me. someday if i have children who strugge in science class, i'll set up a cookie tasting experiment with them and help them bake up a bunch of different recipes of the same cookie. my mind was blown

it was a great night. it was so fun to have my friends come over, and i was giddy to see them take their task so very seriously. and many congratulations to our cookie victors of the evening! such honors.








some of my bloggy girls in attendance: ashley, kaitlyn, erica, and meg (not pictured: becca)
it was such a fun night. thanks to all who came and tasted!

and now:
chelsea's 
vegan chocolate chip cookies



ingredients:
1 cup margarine, chilled
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 tablespoon molasses
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

directions:
preheat oven to 350 degrees
cream together margarine and sugar until fluffy
add vanilla and molasses
add the dry ingredients and mix well
(i had to add a few tablespoons of water, and mixed using my hands to get the dough to stick together.)
fold in chocolate chips
drop onto cookie sheet and bake for 8-10 minutes
allow to cool completely (better cooled than warm, i found)


//links to other published recipes tasted that evening// 
(fascinating accompanying article HERE)

49 comments:

  1. oh my goodness how cute are you! what a fabulous idea ... chocolate chip cookies are pretty much heaven. thank you for sharing a recipe with us.

    xo,amanda

    http://mamawatters.blogspot.com

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  2. this kind of party is right up my alley. I cannot resist a warm chocolate chipper. Very lovely photos too!

    You had to be there

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  3. This is awesome!

    I was actually baking cookies this weekend and decided I want to do a taste test of the same exact recipe, but in one I'll use cheap-o generic ingredients, and in the other I'll use fancy ingredients, like local eggs & butter and expensive flour. I've always wondered if the difference would actually be noticeable!

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    Replies
    1. Further cookie thoughts:

      Replacing the flour with bread flour is a really good idea if you like really chewy cookies. Something to do with the extra gluten in the bread flour.

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  4. this looks fantastic - although idk if i'd ever branch out of the traditional cookie recipe i've been using for parties, track meets, gifts, and street side sales since i was five. i love this idea for a party though, we might just have to try one here in utah :)

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  5. i cannot vouch for the joy of cooking regular recipe, but if it's anything like the JOC oatmeal choco chip cookie... dayyyuuummmm. best cookie ever.

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  6. I'm jealous- that sounds like the best party ever! I love all the decor, too.

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  7. This was so much fun! We should do it again, but with other desserts. Brownies! or Cupcakes! (My sister and her friends do "Cupcake wars" and they love it.)

    Also, love how Huck was double fisting those cookies. Smart man.

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  8. So janelle's cookie won.....but I don't see that recipie! We need it!!!!!!!!
    Maybe I just missed the link somehow on account of me being on the I pad and two children 3 years and under at my feet;). If so pls direct me someone!

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  9. I am so glad you posted the winning recipe! Now I have to go buy some molasses. The sea salt one sounds great too. This is such a fun idea! Way to go for baking seven batches and decorating you apt in one afternoon!

    http://gandacummings.blogspot.com

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  10. This looks like SO MUCH FUN! Natalie, you are such a doll. I want to come to one of your parties! Can you come throw a Cookie Quest party in SLC?

    xoxo,
    Kait

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  11. AnonymousMay 22, 2012

    SO FANTASTIC!!!! I just sent this post to some of my friends so we can have our own cookie party! One is a teacher and I suggested she do this in her class room as a science lesson. You are so fun!! :)

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  12. I want to know how you stay so thin on your great cookie quest.

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  13. OHHHH Huck's haircut is so darling!!!! He looks so DAPPER!!! I couldn't even process the cookie part because his hair just looked too cute.

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  14. Oh man, this looks like the tastiest party ever!! Love this idea!

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  15. this is such an awesome idea. I make vegan chocolate chip cookies with a banana (just to be healthier, not vegan) but I think I wanna try that recipe that calls for shortening too. what a divine little dessert.

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  16. nat, i was in nyc last week and i raced across the city, with your blog tabbed on my phone and google maps running concurrently. levain's chocolate peanut butter was my favorite of the week. thanks for all the cookie quest work.

    also - have you seen the recipe for The Only Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe I'll Ever Need To Know How To Make For The Rest Of My Life ? (pinterest or google) it takes 36 hours of patience, but it lives up to its name one hundred percent!

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  17. this post has made my day...resisting the urge to bake right now...but i'll have to live vicariously for the time being, much work to be done.
    the cookies look and sound delish, everyones is all smiles and i love the decorations and all the blue and white- a victorious occassion all around!
    thanks for sharing!
    ~deirdre

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  18. Did Huck get a haircut???

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  19. !!! Thank you for the vegan recipe! My babe (just about Huck's age) is allergic to milk and eggs and my boy (almost 4) has been hounding me to make some cookies. Of course I don't want to have to leave the little guy out. This is just so such perfect timing.

    Also, in 5th grade I did an experiment much like yours (except with cupcakes) and WON the whole thing! So yes, anyone looking to induce science excitement -- baked goods are the way to go. :D

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  20. *I did an experiment: meaning I did a Science Fair Project.

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  21. The decorations in this picture are to die for. You are such a good crafter (I think I made up that word) I'm so jealous!

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  22. now THIS is my kind of get together! seriously, chocolate chip cookies are by far my number one favorite, i'm so glad you did this, how stinkin' fun!

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  23. I must have a cookie party so I can expand on my own personal chocolate chip cookie quest! What a fantastic night and a brilliant science experiment. I think taste testing parties in general sound like a wonderful party theme...and very scientific. Delicious and educational, you can't go wrong.

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  24. A cookie party? WHATTTT? Such. a. great. idea.

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  25. Yum! What a fun idea! :)

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  26. oh my gosh! that is so fun! i wish i could've tried them all! my husband would love me forever if i had a chocolate chip cookie tasting party! (he will anyways, but i just like the saying ;)

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  27. Dear Natalie,

    This is an awesome party. You are a genius.

    Yours sincerely,
    Claire

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  28. This entire post blows my mind. A cookie party? Seven-million(ish) (ha!) recipes of the same type of cookie? I am having serious cravings.

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  29. one batch kills me. I can't imagine being fascinated by making more... but the end result would be fun! A cookie party sounds really cool, but since I'm probably the worst baker in the world, I need to talk someone into baking cookies for me and throwing a cookie party I can attend :)

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  30. okay, could this post be any cuter?? the delicious cookies, good friends, a beautiful party with great decorations? could anything be better?
    you are more than precious!
    xo TJ

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  31. Ooh, looks like so much fun! Can I ask where you got your skirt?

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  32. Such a cute and fun idea! You are a baking machine!

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  33. I am beyond jealous . . . I clearly need to do this!

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  34. So I just made the vegan cookies...They are so good! Even my boyfriend likes them!

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  35. Ok. As much as I love the cookie party idea- what BLEW MY MIND was the fact that you know MEG FEE!!!!!! I am the (self-appointed) president of The Meg Fee Fan Club. In one photo, I was like, "OMG, is that Meg Fee?" And then I laughed b/c it rhymes and then....CONFIRMED.

    This feeling is something akin to being 5 years old and finding out that my MOM's parents knew my DAD's parents (one set of grandparents is from Ohio, the other from California so their paths rarely crossed).

    Does it ever feel like the internet has made New York smaller?

    And b/c it is totally rude to gush about somebody ELSE on someone's blog, I will just say...

    Love you, that huck, and your blog!

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  36. AnonymousMay 23, 2012

    Ok, where do I start? Huck's toy car, Huck's photo licking the plate, all the stripey tops, hearing of how baking cookies can be mind-blowing, the actual organisation of such a challenge (from the very beginning of it to this grande finale), the decorations...Natalie, you're something else! x

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  37. You could not be more correct, what IS a blog but not for celebrating things like strong, cookie mixing hands! GO NATALIE!

    This party is genius. I love it. I want to re-create it. Is that creepy? I hope not, because I'm a little obsessed with the idea.

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  38. oh my gosh! how fun is this?!?!

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  39. Did you post the recipe that won? I dont see it but I may have missed it

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  40. What an awesome idea - chocolate chip cookie tasting party. I'm planning on copying you some day, Nat!

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  41. so fun! looks yummy.

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  42. What fun!!! I need to throw a cookie-tasting party one of these days...and in the meantime, guess what I'll be baking this weekend? By the way, have you ever tried the chocolate chip cookies from Tulu's Bakery? It's down around Union Square. They're vegan AND gluten free, and I swear they are just delicious! Here's the website: http://tu-lusbakery.com/. I think it's the buckwheat flour - it lends such a perfect texture! I know this because I found this very easy recipe that's a nearly perfect replica: http://www.mrsfieldssecrets.com/blogs/blog/2011/03/recipe-gluten-free-chocolate-chip-cookies/.
    Enjoy having an apartment full of cookies!!!

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  43. i literally would have flown to the east coast of america JUST to attend this party.

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  44. WHAT YOU DOING HAVIN' COOKIE PARTIES WAY OVER THERE??? And then putting molasses in them? Girl, you just blew my mind. My husband lives and breathes choc chip cookies. He would run me over for a choc chip cookie. I'm gonna make him those vegan ones and hopefully watch his jaw drop when he finds out they're vegan :)

    My cookie trick is to sub in part whole wheat flour in with regular flour. NOT GROSS. good!

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  45. Fun! This has inspired me to throw a pie tasting party! Maybe around the 4th of July- nothing is more American than PIE! :)

    Those cookies look ah-may-zing.

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  46. I love this idea of a cookie party! I am thinking of similiarly themed parties right now!

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  47. What a great idea. I loved the banner! We were just in NYC and I fell in love with the Magnolia Bakery.

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