I've been reading more Jeffrey Steingarten lately. I just finished reading his chapter on the taxonomy, classification, aging, cooking, evaluating, eating, and understanding of the perfect steak. He knows more about food than I thought was possible to know. I respect his opinions as one who is accomplished in the world of eating.
But then I read something that made me skeptical. Early in the next chapter, on the eating of chocolate chip cookies, he mentions that one fail-safe option is to find the brightly yellow colored bag of Nestle Tollhouse chocolate chips in the grocery store, and follow the recipe printed on the back. Not terribly suspicious yet, but then he notes that if you go a little light on the flour, you end up with an even better cookie. I have to admit, this is causing me to doubt his entire body of work.
A couple months back I made cookies. I followed the recipe notoriously printed on the back of the NT bag, followed it to the letter. But the cookies floundered. They were no good. Flat, thin disks of greasy dough. A few rounds of experimentation, along with some help from a friend, exposed a ready solution, more flour! A week or so later when I repeated the baking feat, I added extra flour from the beginning, and the results were notable. Perfect, moundy cookies, tender texture, laden with chocolate chips, neither too dry nor too wet. I felt I had mastered the genre.
But the key was the extra flour. How could Steingarter possibly suggest that going light on the flour could solve anything? Has anyone else had experience with proper flour ratios in cookie baking? I remember that when I was in junior high I could make a batch of cookies from memory. But the proportions of flour I used at that time has faded from memory (along with other junior high experiences whose fading has been merciful!).