Concocting the best chocolate-chip cookie

Wednesday, August 1, 2001 at 1:00am

What is it about those round mounds of cooked dough that make everyone so happy? And how can so few ingredients expand into so many different hand-held, tasty little morsels? The thought of the aroma of home-baked cookies wafting through the house conjures up fond memories for many, no matter what age. Right out of the oven, any cookie, anytime, is just plain delicious - especially the time-honored chocolate-chip cookie .

Six basic cookie styles prevail, any of which can range from tender-crisp to soft. A drop cookie is made by dropping spoonfuls of dough onto the baking sheet. Bar cookies are created when a batter or soft dough is spooned into a shallow baking pan, baked, cooled, and cut into bars.

Hand-formed or molded cookies use dough shaped into balls, logs, crescents and other shapes. Pressed cookies are made by forcing dough through a cookie press or pastry bag, forming fancy shapes and designs. Refrigerator (previously called icebox) cookies, formed into logs, are chilled, sliced, and baked. Rolled cookies, the kind kids like to make, are made by rolling the dough out on a floured board and cutting with various shaped cookie cutters.

Each country has their own special recipes and names for cookies. In England they are biscuits; in Spain, galletas; in Germany, keks. In our country there are cookies everywhere. Girl Scouts have capitalized on the cookie business, selling Thin Mints and Do-Si-Dos and many others for their annual fund-raiser. Biscotti, the Italian twice-baked, half-moon shaped, sometimes-dipped-in-chocolate sweet coffee-dunker, has risen in popularity in the last 10 years.

There is no such thing as a Chinese meal without fortune cookies. These cornstarch and egg white crunchies, filled with wisdom applicable solely to you, require a special 6-foot round oven. 70 pancake-style griddles are automatically filled with batter and moved via conveyer belt into the oven for a three-minute bake. They then reach the folding unit where the fortune is inserted.

Getting down to business in pursuit of the best chocolate-chip cookie in the world, which one is the ultimate? How can you choose with all the themes and variations? You thought it was the Nestl

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