Tuesday, 30 September 2008

An exciting prize, and the Great Choc Chip Cookie Research Project

I had such a nice surprise this morning: our fridge won Wendy's competition! It was picked out by her adorable dog Marco as the winner - I must send that spaniel a bonio :) Thanks Wendy - you made my day!

I'm also pretty excited to announce the launch of a new tack in my research career: the Great Chocolate Chip Cookie Research Project. I felt that the new academic year deserved a new venture, and so I have determined to find the best choc chip cookie I can, as voted for by my colleagues. So far, after one week, they have risen to the challenge admirably, and in the best possible spirit of peer feedback have commented extensively and thoughtfully on my efforts. I've asked them to rate each week's cookie out of ten, and add any other comments they would like. I am trying not to be actually present watching over their ruminations, though some people did fall foul of me leaping out of my office brandishing baked goods in their faces. In future I will leave them quietly in the kitchen and hope that it catches on (and maybe just lurk behind the door to gauge their faces...).

Anyway, I started with The Classic One. I turned to the King Arthur Flour company for a recipe - not a brand we get here, but since choc chip cookies are quintessentially American an American trademark name seemed like the best way to go. It was very highly rated by readers and I stuck with the recipe exactly as it was written. Actually I was probably a bit light on the choc chips as I used up all the chocolate I had, and I omitted the optional almond flavouring for fear of moving too far from the classic, but it went down well anyway.

Cookie number 1 was quite a hit at work. It rated an average of 7.7, drawn down by one critic who only gave it a 5. The modal value (apologies - I am a quantitative historian!) was 8, which was pretty good. Of course only time will tell whether my colleagues are just extremely easy to please. We don't have a culture of bringing in home-baked goods, so I think that any cookie may elicit cries of pleasure, especially when stumbled upon unexpectedly on the way to the post room. I had a few simple and appreciative comments ('good stuff' and 'Yum!', and one cryptic one from a twentieth-century colleague 'Bit of slight vegetable taste?'. He has recently moved in with his vegetarian girlfriend I can only conclude that he is suspiciously seeing veggies everywhere! A colleague in the English department said they were nice and soft, someone else voted for dark choc chips another time. One person (the 5 rater, perhaps?) said that the flavour was not particularly pronounced. I have to admit that I actually agreed with them on that. I thought that they were nice, but that I would have been a bit disappointed if I'd ordered one in a cafe. Perhaps the almond essence would have been a good addition after all. The Scientist rated them an 8, with the benefit of getting them warm out of the oven :)

It's taken me a while to post about the first round, but it's going to be a regular Wednesday thing (I hope). Tomorrow's batch is already cooling in the kitchen and I'm keen to see what my rigorously-appraising colleagues say!

The Classic One: average rating 7.7
King Arthur Flour recipe here


Johanna said...

congrats on the prize and on developing a most excellent research project - I imagine it will be one of the most popular projects in the dept :-)

I will be interested to see the different versions of cookies you try out on your colleagues - I have been amazed at the variety of choc chip cookies - esp recommend the gwen steege - the search for the perfect choc chip cookie cookbook

Lysy said...

Thank you! I am looking forward to the results of my new project too. Thanks for the great tip for recipes - I shall add it to my reading list! Any suggestions very welcome...

Ilana said...

but what about the cuckoo recipe, is that not the classic??