Three Chips for Sister Marsha Transcript

The Kitchen / Corner of Crocker and Hines

GUEST: Marsha, Jr. League Wanna-Be
           Alton Brown, Sarcastic Sibling

[opens on Alton ironing his shirts. the phone rings.]

AB: Hello?
MARSHA: Oh, Alton, I just don't know what to do. My name's going to be mud.
AB: Marsha?
M: Oooh.
AB: Slow down.
MB: Please, you've go to help me. Well, I was at the Lox & Latté and I guess I set them down in the chair next to me.
AB: Well, go back and get them.
MB: I did, silly. They were gone!
AB: Well, then go home and bake some more.
MB: I'm never going to make the Ladies Luncheon by noon. Please, you've got to help me.
AB: You know, I've always wondered: what's the difference between a lunch and a luncheon anyway.
MB: This is no joke, buster!  I show up without those cookies, I've got to leave town.
AB: Yeah? Permanently?
MB: You know, I don't need you. I can buy some cookies at the market, probably better than yours, anyway.
AB: [blows steam on the iron] What did you say?
MB: So you'll do it?
AB: [throws a silent fit] What kind?
MB: Chocolate chip. And they have this pretty little pink wrapper with ...
AB: I don't do 'pink.'
MB: Well, okay. I'm at the corner or Crocker and Hines. Make them fast and make them good.
AB: Eats?
MB: Uhh. You and that silly show. Just make the cookies, will ya?
AB: All right.

The Kitchen

    [voice over] Having mired herself in yet another socio-culinary quagmire, my half-witted sister has turned to turned to Good Eats for salvation. Step 1: Recipe Retrieval.
    Ahh. Ever since Ruth Wakefield traded her famous Toll House cookie recipe to the Nestle corporation in exchange for a lifetime supply of chocolate, the recipe on the back of this bag has served as the Magna Carta of American cookie baking.

Due to the popularity of the Tollhouse recipe,
Nestlé developed chocolate morsels in 1939.

    Now, I break this out every single time I make chocolate chip cookies which is not to say I always make the same chocolate chip cookies. 'Cause you see, as long as you've got a little customizing know-how you can basically adopt any good solid cookie recipe to suite your—or your lame-brained sister's particular needs. Now, my legal department has warned me not to actually read this recipe on air. So if you want to know where we deviate, just grab a bag and follow along at home. But keep you mitts of the chips, we need them.

The Thin
The Kitchen

GUEST: Maj. Wilfred D. Cookie

    Knowing my sister's penchant for all things skinny, I've decided to execute the thin & crispy chocolate chip cookie variation.

    It all starts with two and a quarter cups of bleached, all-purpose flour sifted together with a teaspoon each of salt and baking soda plus just a pinch more baking soda.

2 1/4 cups AP flour

1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
+ a pinch of baking soda

    Sifting now will better leavening later. Now, I'm a little pushed for time so I'm going to turn this over to a noted cookie colleague. You may know his brother from ...

WILFRED COOKIE: I told you never to mention that ruffian. All he knows about cookies is how to shovel them into his face.
AB: Oh, yeah. Um, sorry. Forgot. Uh, please, continue.

WC: Now baking soda, you see, reduces the acidity of the batter, thus raising the temperature at which the batter sets.  So, if you desire a flatter cookie, increasing the soda called for in a recipe by up to half would be appropriate.

baking soda = less acid

less acid = higher set temperature

increased soda = thin cookie

    And now the wet stuff. One egg mixed with two ounces of whole milk. [tosses egg shell over shoulder and into sink]

WC: Ah, splendid shot.
 AB: Thank you.

    And one and one half teaspoon of vanilla extract. Mix thoroughly and bring to room temperature.

1 egg

2 oz whole milk

1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract

WC: Since eggs tend to puff rather than spread, replacing one or all of the eggs with milk will promote spreading.

eggs puff

    Now that the dry goods and the wet works are assembled, it's time to cream two sticks of butter in your trusty stand mixer. Beauty, isn't it? Just get that right in there and start it out on low.

2 sticks unsalted butter

WC: Nothing affects a cookie's texture more than the melting characteristics of its fat. Butter has a sharp melting point meaning that, uh, just a few degrees difference between a solid and liquid states. So since conversion occurs at a relatively low temperature, the resulting batter spreads prior to setting.

butter - sharp melting point

butter batters spread

    Aaaah!  Old blue. He's gone.

WC: [to himself] What a moron.

somewhere in cyberspace

GUEST: "W", Big-headed Equipment Expert

AB: W!  W!  Old blue died. W!
 W: Didn't I tell you to donate that thing to a museum?
AB: W. I ain't got time to plead, okay?
 W: A lot has changed since your grandmother won that clunker in bingo.
AB: It was a raffle.
 W: Traditional blade mixers like Old Blue were nothing more than motorized egg beaters.
AB: Well, so?
 W: Ever try kneading a bread dough with an egg beater?
AB: Umm, no.

W: The best of today's mixers feature a single post driven by a planetary movement and are capable of hosting an array of interchangeable attachments.

single post
planetary movement
interchangeable attachments

AB: Oh, 'planetary' means the post spins on its axis while orbiting around an exterior point at the same time like the moon travels around the earth, right?

W: Nice to see you've done your homework for once. Also you want a sturdy work bowl that locks into place.

heavy, locking work bowl

AB: Old Blue had a spinning bowl.
W: Aerating a batter or developing a bread dough requires friction and that means a bowl that stays put.
AB: Hey, this one reminds me of you.
W: Efficient?
AB: Cranky.

W: Personally, I think the swing up head allows for better bowl access. You can even remove the bowl without dismantling the beaters. A 300 watt, variable speed power plant drives the action while rock-solid chassis and wide foot print quite stability.

swing-up head = better access

AB: Beautiful and lethal.
 W: All and all, a life time investment that won't break the bank.
AB: I'll take it. Just put it on my account, will ya?
 W: That'll be cash for you, sir.
AB: [sigh] Oh bother.

The Kitchen

    Bye, bye old blue. [pushes it onto the floor] Hey, hey, hey. [looks at what he just did] It's really is best to move on, don't you think?

    On to creaming this two sticks of butter. We're going to start it off on low just to loosen it up. And go ahead and add one cup of white sugar—there's half a cup and another half cup—and half a cup of brown sugar. I like to use the light brown kind but you can use the dark if you like. There.

2 sticks unsalted-butter

1 cup white sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

WC: It should be noted that the higher ratio of white to brown sugar will also lend crispness to the final cookie.

a high white to brown sugar ratio adds crispness

AB: Thank you cookie fiend for that clarification. Make yourself at home.

    Now there are a lot of recipes that call for this business of creaming the butter and the sugar together until light and fluffy. Why bother? After all the butter would soften by itself, right? Well it would, but only as it started to melt. And of course since butter melts rather quickly once it gets soft, that would mean it would separate, there would be water and fat ... it would be bad. By working cold butter together with the sugar, the tiny sharp sugar crystals actually cut into the butter creating very, very small bubbles, and those bubbles will make it easier for other ingredients to integrate into the batter.

    Now there. That's what creaming ought to look like. All the added volume is nothing but air. Now the word 'creaming' also refers to a general method of cookie or cake construction. A lot of professional recipes are nothing more than an ingredient list followed by the words "creaming method."

"creaming method"

    Now in cookie-dom, that denotes a very simple but fixed order: cream the sugar and fat together at a relatively high speed until they are light and fluffy, then reduce the mixer speed and slowly and completely incorporate the eggs and the liquid, then finish by adding the dry stuff a little at a time, scrapping the sides of the bowl as you go, just like that.

cream fat and sugar together

reduce speed & slowly incorporate eggs & liquid

slowly add the flour mixture

    Now, stir in two cups of your chunks of choice, in our case the chocolate morsels, and you are well battered. Set your oven to 375 and arm for scooping.

2 cups of chips


Today Nestlé produces 250 million morsels a day in 3 factories.

The Kitchen

    Consistent scoop-age is crucial in cookie baking because even small discrepancies from cookie to cookie can result in one cookie looking like a gluey glop while its neighbor resembles burnt tree bark. The secret to clone like cookies is to not drop them on the pan with a spoon. Use a disher. Those of you who saw our chocolate show, The Art of Darkness, already know my dedication to this delivery device.

    Now this is a, uh, a number 20 disher which means each and every one of the cookies it scoops will be a twentieth of a quart, roughly one and a half ounces by volume. If you look closely, the number's usually engraved right on the sweeper. Now these are available good and cheap and your local restaurant supply house as are these heavy, aluminum half sheet pans and sheet parchment.

#20 disher = 1/20 quart
or 1.6 oz

    By the way, parchment and wax paper are not the same thing. Parchment is coated with silicone, okay, which is the same stuff used to caulk bathtubs, patch boats, and lubricate big industrial things. Besides possessing excellent release characteristics, silicone is extremely heat resistant unlike the wax in wax paper which melts and makes everything it touches taste like these [crayons].

parchment ¹ wax paper

Parchment won't:
add funny flavors

96 Crayola Big Box of Crayons

    The other great thing about baking on parchment is that no mater how many cookies you plan on baking, you only need two pans because you can just stage everything on parchment and then slide them off and on the pans as you go. You can even freeze the cookies on parchment and cook them later.

    Now remember, you've got to give these little guys room to grow. I never put more than six on a pan at one time. Now how long are they going to take. Well, 13 to 15 minutes depending on your oven but I always start checking in on them after about, oh, five minutes. The reason? Browning. Depending on your oven the back ones may start to brown before the front ones and you may have to rotate the pans a couple of times. Oh, and remember, the more pans you put in the longer the cook time.

maximum occupancy: 6

13 - 15 minutes... maybe

check after 5 minutes

more pans = more time

Chocolate chip cookies are America's second favorite.
Oreos are first.

    Now when it comes to doneness, cookies have a lot in common with custard which is they should come out of the oven before they look completely done. In fact as soon as the edges are kind of brown and crispy looking, it's time to bail. If the centers are already hard and set, guess what? They're already burned. These, however, aren't.

if they look done,
they're over=done

    Once they are out of the oven you want to de-pan as soon as you can, otherwise the heat in the pan will continue to cook the bottom of the cookie. Now once they are completely cooled, you move them to whatever vessel you would like. I generally just roll them up and pop them into my friendly neighborhood cookie jar. In here they'll last, oh, about um, hour and a half ... at least around here. If you're looking for a longer term option, consider a zip-top bag where they'll last at room temperature for a week, or you can even put them in a freezer bag and freeze them for up to 3 months. Hey, hey, hey. Right.

Corner of Crocker & Hines

AB: [Alton drives up and honks]
MB: Where have you been? I could have made cookies from road kill by now.
AB: You're welcome. Hey, you dropped a stitch right here.
MB: Very nice.
AB: Very nice? What does that mean?
MB: Nothing. It's just that, mine are puffier, fluffier. These are flat and crunchy. They'll know they're not mine.
AB: Well, they're not yours.
MB: Um, hmm.
AB: Puffy, fluffy.  Fine.

The Puffy
The Kitchen

    A cup of buttered flavored shortening into the bowl, along with three quarters of a cup of regular white sugar and one whole cup of brown sugar. Just pack and sweep and pack and sweep. Now if you're curious about the change from butter to shortening, well, it's a curious thing. We'd better ask big green over there.

1 cup butter flavored shortening

3/4 cup sugar

1 cup brown sugar

AB: Hey, Big Green. What's with the shortening.

WC: Well. Shortening melts at a higher temperature than butter so it remains solid longer giving the batter time to rise and set before it spreads. Hah. Increasing the ratio of brown to white sugar also creates a more tender cookie. Now leave me alone.

shortening melts slowly
stays solid longer

more brown sugar = tender cookie

    You've got to give it to him. He knows his stuff. Now while that's creaming, we concentrate on the dry goods. Two and a quarter cups of cake flour sifted together with a teaspoon of salt and a teaspoon and a half of baking powder. It's a lot of changes there. Why?

2 1/4 cups cake flour
1 tsp kosher salt
1 1/2 tsp baking powder

AB: Why?
WC: The lower protein cake flour will tie up less moisture making it available for steam production. Steam will lift the batter in the oven producing a fluffy, cake-like batter. Switching from baking powder to soda enhances fluffiness by creating an acidic batter which will set quicker and spread less.

lower protein flour soaks up less moisture

the leftover moisture turns into steam which provides puff

acidic batters rise more, spread less

    Now as soon as your sugar and shortening are light and fluffy—which won't take near as long as the butter because the shortening's not as hard—go ahead and add the wet works: one egg, two egg and the vanilla ... teaspoon and a half, of course. And bring the speed up again until everything is thoroughly incorporated.

1 egg
another egg
1 1/2 tsp vanilla

    Now as soon as that is all the way in there, I'm going to slowly add the dry goods. Now, I usually do this in three installments. Why? Well, if you just dump it all in there your mixer is going to throw it all over the counter and then it won't be inside your cookies and that's not good. The other reason is, well, it's got to do with moisture and the way that flour absorbs moisture which is relatively slowly. If you work in about 3 batches, you're going to allow time for the batter to actually form. There's the second installment. Always add it on a low speed and once the flour's worked in, turn it back up so that the batter can beat. And installment number three. There.

add the dry stuff slowly

    Now stir in your chips, two cups once again and don't turn it up too high. Now once the chips are fully integrated, turn up the speed and slowly bring the head of the mixer out. That will leave the batter in the bowl instead of on the paddle.

2 cups of chips

    And now for something completely different: chill this. Why chill? Why ask me?

chill batter

WC: Cold dough spreads slowly giving the cookie time to climb before setting.

cold batter spreads slowly

    When your batter has thoroughly chilled, it's time to scoop and bake. And by the way, the smaller the scoop the more puff the cookie will have.


The word "cookie" comes from the Dutch
word "koekje", meaning "small cake".

The Kitchen

    Remove when golden brown and puffy, cool, package and deliver to your thankless sibling.

Corner of Crocker & Hines

AB: [Alton drives up to Marsha eating some cookies] Here you go, Sis: light, fluffy, cakey ... where did those come from?
MB: Well, you know, all this cookie talk, I got hungry. Ha. Oh, right over there, that little bakery, I got some cookies.
AB: But ...
MB: Very chewy.
AB: But the ... the ...
MB: Mmm.
AB: Chewy.
MB: Um, mm.
AB: Fine. [drives off]

The Chewy

The Kitchen

    Back to butter. But this time we're going to melt it. Two sticks, eight ounces, 16 tablespoons, 48 teaspoons in a heavy, medium sauce pan over low heat.

2 sticks unsalted butter melted
medium saucepan
low heat

    While that melts, sift together two and a quarter cups of bread flour with a teaspoon each of salt and baking soda. Why? [sound of toilette flushing] Well, where's that big puppet I hired?

2 1/4 cups bread flour
1 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp baking soda

WC: Hmm. Sorry. The water from the melted butter will combine during agitation with the higher protein of the bread flour therefore producing gluten ... which is chewy. Also, since bread flour can absorb much more liquid than all purpose flour, more moisture will stay in the cookie.

H2O + wheat protein = gluten

High protein flour ties up moisture, keeping cookies moist.

    Add the now melted butter to the mixing bowl and add a quarter cup of white sugar and a quarter cup of brown sugar plus a whole cup of brown sugar. And I should mention that, the darker the sugar you use the chewier the cookies are going to be. Why?

1/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 cup brown sugar

WC: Brown sugar is coated in molasses.

Molasses - the liquid that remains after sugar crystals
have been extracted from concentrated cane juice.

WC: Molasses loves moisture. By increasing the amount of brown sugar the finished cookies are guaranteed to attract H2O from the air keeping them moist and chewy!

    And now the wet works. Up to this point we've strictly been two-egg cookies but now we're going to make a change. I'm going to go with one whole egg—let that work it's way in—and one egg yolk. Why the change?

1 egg
1 egg yolk

AB: I'll take this one.

    It's got to do with egg whites. You see, egg whites dry out baked goods. That's kind of what they do. And a chewy cookie has got to be moist. So not only are we going to get rid of one egg white, we're actually going to add an ounce, two tablespoons, of milk and of course our teaspoon and a half of vanilla. As soon as that is integrated, we can go with the dry stuff.

more egg whites = dry batter

1 oz (2 Tbls) milk

1 1/2 tsp vanilla

    By the way, vanilla extract is produced by macerating chopped beans in a solution of alcohol and water. Now in this country, real vanilla extract must contain 35% alcohol and 13.35 ounces of beans per gallon. Double strength extracts contain the same amount of alcohol but twice the beans. Imitation extract is made from wood and other stuff. Vanilla flavoring, on the other hand, is a combination of imitation and pure extracts.

    By the way, vanilla extract is produced by macerating chopped beans in a solution of alcohol and water. Now in this country, real vanilla extract must contain 35% alcohol and 13.35 ounces of beans per gallon. Double strength extracts contain the same amount of alcohol but twice the beans. Imitation extract is made from wood and other stuff. Vanilla flavoring, on the other hand, is a combination of imitation and pure extracts.

Pure Vanilla Extract
Alcohol 35%
Penzeys Spices


Alcohol & H2O

35% Alcohol

Pure Vanilla Extract
Alcohol 35%
Penzeys Spices

Premium Quality
Imitation Vanilla Extract
McCormick & Co., Inc.
NET 2 FL OZ  59 ml


Vanilla Flavoring


Corner of Crocker & Hines

GUEST: Man Eating a Cookie

MAN: [man walks by Marsha eating a cookie]
MB: Hey, you. Where'd you get the cookies, freak?

Half the cookies baked in American homes are chocolate chip.

The Kitchen

    Add this nice and slow, scrapping down the bowl as you go. Heh. That's nice.

    Now as soon as your batter comes together, time to go with the two cups of chips.

2 cups chocolate chips

    Once those are thoroughly stirred in, well you know the rest of the drill: chill, scoop, bake, cool, pack, yadda, yadda, yadda, yadda.

chill, scoop, bake, cool, yaddah yaddah...

Corner of Crocker & Hines: Later that same morning

GUEST: Girl Scout

[Alton pulls up to bench with a note on it] Bro,

Found my cookies.
See ya,


    Ooh. [sigh] So what have we learned, other than my sister should be drawn and quartered? Well, even subtle variations in the course of a recipe can steer a cookie to some deliciously different places.

    Now take your favorite chocolate chip cookie recipes, add a little extra soda, replace some or all of eggs with milk, up the ratio of white to brown sugar and use butter rather than shortening and thin, crisp cookies will result. •add soda
•replace 1 egg with milk
•high ratio white:brown
•use butter                    
  Thin & Crisp
    If your tastes run to the soft and cakey, use cake flour, baking powder rather than soda, and shortening instead of butter. Chilling the batter and scooping on the small side will add to the puff factor, too. •cake flour
•baking powder             
    Now finally, chewiness calls for melting the butter, holding back on the egg whites and using more, if not all, brown sugar. •melt butter
•bread flour                   

    Anyway you go, you'll definitely have good eats.

GS: Hey, mister, wanna buy some cookies?
AB: [raises eyebrow to the camera]

Corner of Crocker & Hines

AB: You know, that's not bad. But you might think of changing the overall
      shortening-to-butter ratio.
GS: Heh, hey. You talk funny, Mister. Heh, heh.

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Last Edited on 08/25/2014