Sunday, November 6, 2011

Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies

Cook's Illustrated is one of my most trusted sources on recipes.  I absolutely love the scientific method they take (one of the reasons I love Alton Brown as well), and the numerous trials they run to develop each recipe perfectly.  Therefore I knew that their recipe for Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies had to be one of the best out there.  It's very similar to the recipe from Baking Illustrated except without that extra dough shaping step, but goes a step further with the cookie flavorwise, not only melting the butter, but browning it as well.  Wow.... If you've never browned butter before, you have to try it, if only to make your kitchen smell like the most amazing place on earth.  That extra step made a subtle difference in the taste of the cookies, adding a depth of flavor that my tasters really loved... this is one of the top two of my trial recipes so far.  Amazingly these cookies got better after a few days of sitting, which I would never have expected cookies to do.  In fact, most of the recipes I've tried have been better after a couple of days, rather than when they first came out of the oven (they were delicious then too)!

Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies
from Cook's Illustrated
Makes about 16 cookies

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour (8 3/4 ounces)
1/2 tsp baking soda 
14 tbsp unsalted butter (1 3/4 sticks), divided
1/2 cup granulated sugar (3 1/2 ounces)
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar (5 1/4 ounces)
1 tsp table salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 1/4 cups semisweet chocolate chips or chunks

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees, and adjust rack to middle position.  Line 2 large baking sheets (18- by 12- inch) with parchment paper.
2. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and baking soda, set aside.
3. Heat 10 tbsp of butter in a 10-inch skillet, over medium-high heat until melted, about 2 minutes.  Continue cooking, swirling pan constantly, until butter is dark golden brown and has a nutty aroma, 1 to 3 minutes more.  Remove the skillet from the heat, and transfer the butter to a large heat-proof bowl.  Add the remaining 4 tbsp of butter, and stir together until completely melted.
4. Add the granulated sugar, brown sugar, salt, and vanilla to the bowl with the melted butter, and whisk until fully incorporated.  Add the egg and egg yolk and whisk until the batter is smooth, with no sugar lumps, about 30 seconds.  Let mixture stand 3 minutes, then whisk for 30 more seconds.  Repeat this process of resting a whisking 2 more times until the mixture is thick, smooth, and shiny.
5. Add the flour mixture, and stir until just combined, about 1 minute.
6. Add the chocolate chips, and stir to incorporate.
7. Divide the dough into 16 portions, or scoop into 3 tbsp balls (#24 cookie scoop).  Arrange on the prepared baking sheets, 2-inches apart.
8. Bake the cookies one sheet at a time, 10 to 14 minutes, rotating sheet halfway through, until the cookies are golden brown, still puffy, and the edges have begun to set, but the centers are still soft.
9. Transfer the baking sheet to a wire rack, and let cool completely before serving.

  • Once again, I used Ghirardelli 60% cacao chocolate chips for these cookies.
  • I loved the way these tasted, but I wanted them to look a bit more crackly.... next time maybe I'll use the method for shaping in the Baking Illustrated recipe.
  • The flavor of these was awesome, the texture remained chewy, and they got better by the day!  ..... only time will tell if they become the overall favorite.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

.... so I started my Chocolate Chip Cookie Project a few weeks ago, and so far it's been very fun and delicious!  I'm so sorry that it's taken me so long to start posting about the project... I got busy with Halloween, and then the crazy October snowstorm that knocked out our internet for almost a week.... not that I'm complaining though and I got off lucky compared to many people.  Somehow we never lost power, even though 88 percent of our town did, and even now, a week later, over 200,000 people in Connecticut are without power.  A tree did fall on the building I live in a couple of apartments over, but somehow it didn't actually do any damage to the building, other than break a screen door!  Again, I consider myself incredibly lucky!

.... and back to the cookies :)

The first recipe I tried was from Baking Illustrated.  This is a cookbook I don't yet own, but has been on my wishlist for a while.  These cookies were big, and chewy, and very delicious, although out of the four recipes I've tried so far, they haven't received any votes for the best... They are great though, and they are a fairly straightforward recipe, except for the part where you actually shape the balls of dough... You actually have to make a ball of dough, pull it apart into two halves with your fingers, turn the jagged parts of each side up, and then put the ball of dough back together, leaving the jagged sides facing up... it's a weird step that I haven't seen in any other recipe so far, but it gives the top of the cookie that uneven crackly look that you see in bakeries.

Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
from Baking Illustrated, via Brown-Eyed Baker  
Makes about 18 large cookies

2 cups plue 2 tbsp (10 5/8 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled until warm
1 cup packed (7 ounces) light or dark brown sugar (I used dark brown)
1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1- 1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees, and place oven rack in middle setting.  Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper, or spray with cooking spray.
2. Whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl and set aside.
3. In a separate bowl, or stand mixer, mix together the butter and sugars until thoroughly blended.  Beat in egg, egg yolk, and vanilla until combined.  Add the flour mixture, and beat on low until just combined. Stir in the chocolate chips to taste.
4. Roll a scant 1/4 cup of dough into a ball.  Hold the dough ball with the fingertips of both hands and pull into 2 equal halves.  Rotate the halves 90 degrees, and with the jagged surfaces facing up, join the halves together at their base, again forming a single ball, being careful not to smooth the dough's uneven surface.  Place the dough balls on the prepared baking sheet, jagged surface up, 2 1/2 inches apart from each other.
5. Bake 15-18 minutes until the cookies are light golden brown and the outer edges start to harden, but the centers are still soft and puffy.  Cool the cookies on the sheets.  


  • Like I mentioned, the shaping step in unusual, and I am interested in seeing what happens if you don't perform that step... I know it would alter them visually, but would it affect the texture?  
  • The only alteration I made to this recipe was to use bittersweet chocolate chips.... I used Ghirardelli 60 % chips, which I love.  I got comments ranging from not enough chocolate chips, to too many chips, to the perfect amount, to a coworker wanting normal chocolate chips (the semisweet ones)... so I think that's all personal preference.
  • Delicious, but these are so far not the favorite among my tasters.... I will be making more batches though as there are some who have requested to be taste-testers yet haven't had the chance to try any of the batches!