Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies
May 9, 2011
There are some recipes you make once and never make again. It’s not because you weren’t pleased with the end result, or because the technique was too time-consuming, or too this-or-that. You just don’t return to that recipe because there are so, so many other brilliant recipes floating through the world, either tucked away in the pages of books and magazines or floating through the waves of the interweb. I have folders, both manila and digital, bursting with recipes that I’ve made, loved, served, enjoyed, and will probably not make again in the foreseeable future.
When I’m deciding whether or not to file away a recipe there are lots of factors involved, both personal and otherwise. Was this recipe fun to make? Were my roommates hovering around the kitchen, lured by the smell of something sweet in the oven, waiting for the timer to go off? Did I enjoy eating the finished product so much that I completely ignored the chocolate smeared all over my face for at least half a day? Very serious questions, I assure you.
These chocolate chip cookies elicit an enthusiastic “yes” to not only the questions above, but also all the other questions I ask myself while baking. I might go so far as to say that these cookies might even have the answers to life’s questions outside the kitchen. After eating one of these chocolate chip cookies, all your existential questions seem to disappear. That’s how good they are.
I will definitely continue trying new recipes for chocolate chip cookies and will, most definitely, continue to research new and exciting ways to make a chocolate chip cookie recipe stand out from the rest. But when all is said and done, quite frankly, these will be the cookies I make when I am in need of the “real deal”.
(Recipe adapted from Cook’s Illustrated)
Notes: I made two batches on two different days, one of which followed the recipe exactly and one of which was slightly altered to accommodate the ingredients I had on hand. What does this mean? Instead of ¾ cup dark brown sugar, I did ½ cup packed light brown sugar and a heaping tablespoon of molasses. Instead of 1 ¼ cups semisweet chocolate, I used 1 cup chopped dark (72% cacao) and ¼ cup milk chocolate. The end results for each batch were each amazingly delicious, maintaining the ever-important balance of chewy-crunchy and chocolate-cookie.
Yields 16-18 hugantic cookies
1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
14 tablespoons butter, unsalted
½ cup granulated sugar
¾ cup dark brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 egg yolk
1 ¼ cup semisweet, or dark, chocolate, chips or chunks
Optional: 3/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts, toasted and cooled
1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F, making sure oven rack is in the middle. Line baking sheets with parchment paper.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour and baking soda. Set aside.
3. In a skillet (preferably not non-stick so you can keep an eye on the color of the butter), heat 10 tablespoons butter over medium-high heat until melted. Continue cooking and start to swirl pan constantly until butter has a deep golden color and starts to emit a warm, nutty smell (1-3 minutes), taking care not to burn the butter. Take skillet off heat and transfer melted butter to a large mixing bowl. Add remaining 4 tablespoons butter to large mixing bowl and stir butter until completely melted.
4. Add both sugars, salt, and vanilla to butter. Whisk until mixture is fully incorporated. Add egg and egg yolk and whisk until mixture is smooth and no sugar lumps remain, not longer than 30 seconds. Let mixture stand 3 minutes, then whisk for 30 seconds, repeating this process two more times – you’ll want to let the mixture stand for a total 9 minutes.
5. Using a rubber spatula or sturdy wooden spoon, stir in flour mixture until just combined. A few lumps of flour are okay at this point.
6. Stir in chocolate and nuts, if using, until there are no more visible flour lumps and mix-ins are evenly distributed throughout.
7. Drop cookies, in 3-tablespoonfuls, onto baking sheets, spacing cookies at least 2 inches apart. These babies will spread.
8. Bake cookies in preheated oven, one tray at a time, for 10 to 14 minutes. Cookies should appear golden and puffy with edges that have begun to set. The centers will appear soft but not to worry, they will set upon cooling.
9. Cool cookies on baking sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
Once cookies are cool, store covered at room temperature up to three days.