Monday, January 21, 2013

Chocolate Chip Cookies (in a Cup!)

The windchill has hovered around -35 all day here, which is (a) almost cold enough for frost to show up on the windows in hell, and (b) that's right, cold enough to motivate me to bake. 

I was originally wanted to make a healthy version of chocolate chip cookies with Greek yogurt, because I thought I had Greek yogurt in my fridge. This would help warm the house and produce something warm for me to give to my boyfriend when he came home. Closer inspection revealed, however, that the only Greek yogurt I had was pineapple flavored. I was not willing to leave though house, though, so I decided to make the full-butter, full-sugar Nestle Toll House cookies that my mom used to make for me. 

I used this recipe (seen below), but substituted Cup 4 Cup gluten free flour. My cookies turned out gooey and buttery and satisfying, but I call shenanigans on their claim that this recipe makes 5 dozen cookies. I only got 3 dozen and I don't think mine are THAT big. 

Original NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour 
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels
  • 1 cup chopped nuts
PREHEAT oven to 375° F.

COMBINE flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels and nuts. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets. 

BAKE for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely. 

PAN COOKIE VARIATION: Grease 15 x 10-inch jelly-roll pan. Prepare dough as above. Spread into prepared pan. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes or until golden brown. Cool in pan on wire rack. Makes 4 dozen bars. 

 dough as above. Divide in half; wrap in waxed paper. Refrigerate for 1 hour or until firm. Shape each half into 15-inch log; wrap in wax paper. Refrigerate for 30 minutes.* Preheat oven to 375° F. Cut into 1/2-inch-thick slices; place on ungreased baking sheets. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely. Makes about 5 dozen cookies. 

* May be stored in refrigerator for up to 1 week or in freezer for up to 8 weeks. 

As I was pulling the last dozen out of my oven, my friend Jane told me about this recipe for a microwavable cookie in a cup. I haven't tried this, but this could have saved me effort and dishes. 

Here's the recipe I am stealing from Jane and Melissa at No. 2 Pencil:

Chocolate Chip Cookie in a Cup
1 Tablespoon Butter
1 Tablespoon Granulated White Sugar
1 Tablespoon of firmly packed Dark Brown Sugar
3 Drops of Vanilla Extract
Small Pinch of Kosher Salt
1 Egg Yolk (discard the egg white)
Scant 1/4 of All Purpose Flour
2 Tablespoons of Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips

Start by melting your butter in the microwave. Add sugars, vanilla and salt. Stir to combine. Separate your egg and add the yolk only to your cup. Stir to combine. Add flour, then stir again. Add the chocolate chips, and give a final stir. Cook in microwave 40-60 seconds, start checking for doneness at 40 seconds. Mine takes 50 seconds. 

Serve warm.

FYI, Jane recommends microwaving for longer than 60 seconds. Next time I feel like baking, I'll try doing it the lazy way. 

Friday, January 18, 2013

Then Class Got WEIRD...

In one of my night classes this week, my lesson plan focused on research methods. As any good scientist knows, before you can really get into the heart and soul of research methods, you have to first make sure that students know about the scientific method. In particular I wanted to draw out the distinction between a theory, a hypothesis, and an operational definition. We started by getting examples of developmental phenomena that students noticed. A student volunteered 'babies suck on their toes' as our starting point. This is something we've observed and something that we might be interested in explaining. 

Phenomenon: Babies put their toes in their mouths.

Step two was to come up with a theory that could explain WHY babies put their toes in their mouths. Some of the suggestions were that toes taste good or that babies are curious. I settled on 'toes taste good' as the example theory we'd use. (Note: it would have been better to choose 'babies are curious' for many reasons...)

Theory: Babies put their toes in their mouths because their toes taste good.

Our next step was to come up with a testable hypothesis based on our theory. While theories can be general, hypotheses have to outline a specific, testable relationship between at least two variables. Someone in class noted that after infancy, people pretty much stop putting their toes in their mouths. 

Hypothesis: Babies put their toes in their mouths because baby toes are delicious. They stop putting their toes in their mouths because toddler toes don't taste as good. 

All things considered, it is actually a decent hypothesis because we now have a specific prediction that we can test. We can design a study to see if baby toes might be more delicious than toddler toes. This hypothesis clearly outlines our independent (IV) and dependent variables (DV): we think that the deliciousness of toes (IV) might be related to how often young kids put their toes in their mouths (DV). 

The next step was to operationalize our variables. We had to come up with a specific way to measure both the deliciousness of toes and how often young kids were putting their toes in their mouths. 

Operationalizing our IV (deliciousness of toes): People could lick different baby and toddler toes and rate how good they tasted. Our raters would not know how old the toes were that they were tasting. (Reminder: we expect that young toes will taste better than older toes.)
Operationalizing our DV (how often young kids put their toes in their mouths): Someone could watch babies and toddlers for a specified period of time and count how many times they put their toes in their mouths. (We could have also measured the duration of how long toes were left in mouths.)

This is how we came to discuss the deliciousness of baby toes in class. We started by picking a phenomenon. Then we tried to explain why we might observe it. Before we could discuss ways to collect data to test our theory, we had to draft a testable hypothesis about how two specific variables might be related to each other. And finally we had to come up with a really clear method for measuring our variables of interest. Our operational definitions had to be clear enough that anyone else who wanted to conduct a replication of our study would be able to do so. Not that we'd recommend that anyone conduct a blind taste test of baby toes. 

Sometimes you commit to a path and things just get weird.