Photo by Co-lab Pantry
Cookie with EARL Canteen
By Tehya Nicholas
Since they opened their doors in 2010, EARL Canteen has rarely gone a day without selling out of cookies. That’s over 200 cookies per day, to be precise. Maybe it’s the high quality ingredients, maybe it’s the passion of co-founder and self-confessed cookie-fanatic Jackie Middleton, or maybe it’s the magic of EARL.
Rather than leave anything to mystery though, we were determined to understand exactly how those cookies got to tasting so damn good. So we went straight to the source. The cookie messiah’s themselves: the EARL Canteen chefs.
Here is their inside scoop on creating a crunchy-yet-gooey, delicious chocolate chip cookie at home. Be warned, this article will make your mouth water.
Getting started The team lay down the law of baking at the very beginning. You need high quality ingredients to make all the difference. At EARL Canteen, the team uses bakers flour rather than ordinary flour for a firmer crumb, 55% Callebaut chocolate chips and proper sea salt flakes. They emphasise that you can taste the difference between quality ingredients and the poorer ones, so keep your eyes peeled for good produce.
Tips for making the best choc-chip cookie While the EARL Canteen crew have spent years perfecting their cookie recipe, they acknowledge things can go pretty wrong when baking at home. Middleton believes rushing the process is the most common misstep. “Patience also goes a long way when baking... I know it's tempting to try and get your cookie dough into the oven as soon as possible but it's essential that it is chilled, otherwise the dough will start to melt before it cooks, and your cookies will spread all over the oven tray," she says. "If you're really desperate to start baking, put the dough into the freezer until it's chilled."
Another pro tip? Use a silicon mat when you’re baking as it won't curl up in the oven and ruin the shape of your cookies. And if you need a little practice getting the timing right, don’t be afraid to put through one or two cookies first as a trial.
“Cook longer for crunchier biscuits, a shorter time for softer chewier cookies,” Middleton says.
EARL CANTEEN CALLEBAUT CHOCOLATE, WALNUT & SEA SALT COOKIES:
Recipe makes about 35 cookies
- 250g softened butter
- 400g castor sugar
- 60g brown sugar
- 4 eggs, beaten
- 500g baker's flour
- 15g sea salt flakes
- 40g baking powder
- 12g vanilla essence
- 400g Callebaut chocolate chips (55 percent cacao)
- 250g walnuts, roughly chopped - Sea salt flakes to garnish
- In a large bowl beat the softened butter and sugars until creamy.
- Add beaten eggs and mix well. The mixture may look curdled – if so, keep beating until it's smooth and all the ingredients have been incorporated. You can use an electric mixer for these two steps or just mix well with a wooden spoon.
- If using an electric mixer, switch to a spoon to incorporate the flour, baking powder, salt and vanilla. Mix well, until you have a heavy, sticky batter.
- Stir in the choc chips and walnuts. Store in a tub in the refrigerator until chilled or make into logs for freezing (see below). If storing in the refrigerator, use within seven days.
- Lay out a length of baking paper and spread half the mix on top of the paper.
- Form into a log about 8cm in diameter, leaving space at the end of the paper for wrapping.
- Tightly wrap in the baking paper then wrap again in cling wrap, making sure the log is firmly sealed. Repeat with the remaining half of the mixture and freeze until required.
Shaping and baking Cookies are best baked from cold or frozen dough.
If using dough chilled in fridge
- Spoon 55g-60g weight onto lined baking trays. Wearing gloves, form the cookies into round flat shapes about 2cm thick and 8cm round.
- Push the dough off the top of a few choc chips so you can see them easily.
- Allow space for spreading – they will be about 10cm in diameter once baked.
- Garnish dough with a small pinch of sea salt.
- Bake in a fan-forced oven at 160C for 12 minutes until just golden but still pale and chewy. Cool on the tray before removing.
If using frozen logs of dough Slice off 2cm thicknesses from the frozen log, garnish with a pinch of sea salt and bake as above.
Any recommended accompaniments? Choc Chip Cookies are good with anything, here are some ways to vary the recipe:
- Try chopped hazelnuts instead of walnuts or leave out nuts all together
- Vary the type of chocolate from dark to bitter or milk
- Add cocoa to the flour for a double hit of chocolate
Have fun & share with loved ones!