Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Have you tried these? It's the new craze! All the kids are doing it.

Okay, I know you know how to make chocolate chip cookies. You've been making the old, reliable recipe on the back of the yellow bag of chips since you were a kid. Yeah, me, too. (Do you think the original 1938 tollhouse cookies called for 12 ounces of chocolate? I have my doubts.)

I've tried dozens of  "Ultimate" chocolate chip cookie recipes. Most of them seem like an exercise in cramming more fat and sugar into something that was pretty tasty in the first place. How many sticks of butter can a batch of cookies hold without turning into a puddle? A lot. Should you brown the butter? Umm, no. Can you improve dessert by adding more fiber? Gag.

My go-to formula is adapted from Jacques Torres' recipe published in the New York Times. It made me realize that the key was in the technique, not the ingredients. Namely, you have to
  1. Let the dough sit in the fridge for a day to develop a malt-y flavor;
  2. Freeze the dough in pre-formed balls;
  3. Bake the cookies while the dough is still frozen; and
  4. Take out the cookies when they are still wet in the cracks, i.e. grossly undercooked.
This requires you to plan ahead by two days, but there it is. On the flip side, you can store the frozen dough balls and pull out a couple any time you want warm cookies. 

I always make these for teacher gifts at the end of the year. Pretty, no?

Chocolate Chip Cookies
2 1/2 sticks softened butter (285g)
1 1/4 cups brown sugar (280g)
1 cup granulate sugar (195g)
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon table salt
3 1/3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (480g)
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 3/4 cups chocolate chips (310g)

With the mixer's paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides and beat in the eggs, then the vanilla and salt. On low speed, mix in the dry ingredients. Stir the chocolate chips in by hand to avoid them getting broken. 

Cover the dough and refrigerate it for at least 24 hours to develop the flavor. It helps to take the dough out of the fridge to soften up an hour before you plan to scoop it. If you forget, well, you'll get a workout. 

Portioning out cookies is much faster with a cookie scoop or disher. (Also, all the cookies are the size - TG!) For large cookies, I use a #20, which holds 3 tablespoons, or sometimes a #40 at 1 1/2 tablespoons. The #20 makes a giant cookie that your grandmother would likely have disapproved of, around 4 inches in diameter. Your kids will suffer no such scruple.

Guess which one he chose?

Line a tray with waxed paper and scoop out the dough. You can squeeze the whole batch onto one tray, since you won't be baking them on it. Freeze solid, and then either bag them up for baking when you get around to it, or place them five inches apart on a parchment lined baking sheet. (Yes, I know this recipe takes two days. Do you want chewy cookies or not?)

Bake at 325 until the edges just start to brown and they are still wet in the cracks. Approximately 18 minutes for giant cookies, 12 for normal-sized. Remove from the oven and rest on the pan for three minutes before cooling completely on a rack. Makes 24, or 48.

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