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Thursday, December 20, 2012

The Most Awesome Chocolate Chip Cookies

Earlier in the year, I was perusing a blog that I often read, and I found a recipe for what she professed were "The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies..... Ever."  Always a doubting Thomasina, I had to test these cookies myself.  I quickly learned they really are that good.  Now, I have requests for these cookies all of the time from my co-workers, Ben's co-workers, friends, etc.  I have even packaged up these cookies and sold them at work.  Each time I've done this, they sell out immediately because folks buy multiple packages and ask for more.  Pretty good stuff, I tell ya!

One thing about these cookies is that they require patience, and those that know me, know I have very little.  These cookies are worth it.  The preparation isn't complicated, but part of what makes these cookies so good, is that the cookie dough needs to rest - the longer the better.  Of course, you can bake them immediately, and they will still be great; however, they are even better when the flavors have had a chance to meld together for approximately 36 hours.  I have even let the dough rest for up to 72 hours, and they were so, so yummy!

In addition to letting the dough rest, I think there are a few other secrets that help make these cookies so darned good.  They are:
  1. All ingredients should be at room temperature. 
  2. Use a combination of bread flour and cake flour.  Cake flour is finer, and I think it contributes a great deal to the overall texture of the cookies.  By the way, regular all-purpose flour is considered bread flour.
  3. Use REAL butter - no margarine or butter wannabes.
  4. The chocolate is very important.  Don't skimp and use semi-sweet (Toll House) chips or any other chips you may already have on-hand.  Use only bittersweet chocolate chips with at least 60% cacao.  Remember that!  This kind of chocolate adds such a rich flavor.  I use the Ghirardelli brand.
  5. The size of the cookie plays a major roll in the texture as well.  When the cookies are too small, they dry out too quickly.  When the cookies are larger, you get the perfect texture, in my opinion - crunchy on the outside and soft and gooey on the inside.  In my opinion, gooey and chewy is always good when referring to cookies.  Yum!  I use a 1/3 measuring cup as my scoop or you can use an ice cream scoop that holds approximately 3 fluid oz.
  6. Sea salt.  Course sea salt is used not only in the recipe but is also sprinkled on top of the dough prior to baking.  The salt helps to cut some of the richness of the chocolate chips and enhances the buttery caramel flavor of the dough.  Trust me, don't skip sprinkling the salt on top of the dough.
  7. When cooking these babies, underdone is always better than overdone.  Once you take them out of the oven, they will continue to cook on the baking sheet for a few minutes, so bear that in mind.
Let's get started.

2 cups of cake flour, less 2 Tbsp.
1-2/3 cups all purpose flour
1-1/4 tsp baking soda
1-1/2 tsp baking powder
1-1/2 tsp course sea salt
2-1/2 sticks unsalted butter, softened
1-1/4 cups light brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar plus 2 Tbsp
2 large eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1-1/4 lbs bittersweet chocolate chips*
Course sea salt for garnish

*I have actually reduced the amount of chocolate chips to approximately 1 lb., but I would suggest you follow the recipe to the letter the first time, then adjust to your taste the next time.

Combine flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt in a bowl.  Mix together well, and set it aside.

If you have a stand mixer with a paddle bit, I strongly suggest you use it or your arm will eventually fall off.  Just sayin'.  Cream together the butter and sugars until it's light and fluffy.  Next, add your eggs one at a time mixing well in between each one.  Add the vanilla and mix well.  If you have a splatter guard or whatever it's called, use it because you are now going to add all of the dry ingredients.  Reduce the speed of the mixer, and add those dry ingredients one small scoop at a time.  Adding the dry ingredients too quickly will result in what appears to be an atomic mushroom of flour even with the splatter guard.  You've been warned.  Finally, add your chocolate chips and mix until they are evenly distributed throughout the dough.  If you wish to add any nuts, you may do so now.

Press plastic wrap onto the dough, making sure to cover it completely.  I was out of plastic wrap, so I used a gallon zip lock instead.  Don't judge - it worked.  Refrigerate the dough for 24 to 36 hours, but no more than 72 hours.

When you're ready to bake the cookies, remove them from the refrigerator and allow the dough to soften some.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.  I don't like using dark, non-stick pans for these cookies.  Instead I line a regular cookie sheet or jelly roll pan with parchment paper or simply prepare the pan with butter.  Using my 1/3 cup scoop, I place six level scoops evenly on my baking sheet. 

Sprinkle the top of each scoop with sea salt and bake them until they are golden brown but still soft.  Now, I don't think my oven heats consistently because I often have to vary the times I bake these cookies - one time it will be 14 minutes, the next time I bake them it may be for almost 20 minutes.  So, obviously, you will need to judge the bake time based on your oven.  Again, remember underdone is much better than overdone.

When the cookies are golden brown but still soft, remove them from the oven and allow them to cool for about 10 minutes.  Next, remove the cookie from the baking sheet and put them on a baking rack to continue cooling.  These cookies are amazing piping hot right out of the oven, but they taste even better once they've completely cooled.

This recipe should yield approximately 18 large cookies - maybe a few less depending on the severity of your cookie-dough-eating problem.

Sorry the last two pictures are crummy cell phone pictures.  The day we baked these cookies, I wasn't feeling well, so I left Ben to do the baking and I didn't get any pictures.  However, I did find some cell phone pictures I took of a previous batch I made.

So, there you go!  The secret is out.  I hope you enjoy.  As always, if you make these, let me know what you think.

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