Sunday, September 13, 2009

Chocolate Chip Cookies

The Ultimate Soft and Chewy Chocolate Chunk Cookies - January 30, 2009

Let's start off by saying I LOVE chocolate chip cookies. Not just any chocolate chip cookies though, not even just any homemade ones (although they're almost always better than the store-bought kind). But nothing beats a warm chocolate chip cookie 10 minutes out of the oven. Waiting 10 minutes was something one of my chef instructors from the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) advised. If you eat them right out of the oven, they're too hot to enjoy and you can't really taste them until they cool down a bit. Plus they're just soft. But if you wait 10 minutes, the edges crisp up while the middle is still soft and the whole cookie is still warm while the chocolate chips are still melt-y. You get the best of all possible worlds.

I may not have ONE favorite dessert but if I had a top 10 list, warm chocolate chip cookies 10 minutes out of the oven would be on it. I've been on an eternal quest for THE perfect chocolate chip cookie. I've tried dozens of recipes, if not a hundred or more. I hit upon a terrific one from and it's the one I like to make best. But that doesn't stop me from trying out new recipes for chocolate chip cookies. You never know what gems you might discover. One of the things I look for in a successful recipe is where the cookies don't spread much - they have to remain thick with crisp edges and chewy middles. Otherwise, it's not a cookie so much as a little flat pancake with knobby bumps of chips. Plus I like to use Guittard milk chocolate chips since they're big and the spread-too-much cookies look funny with big chips.

On the subject of chocolate chips, I prefer milk chocolate chips. My nieces and their dad like semisweet but my sweet tooth wins out - it's milk chocolate all the way. Guittard makes the best since they're bigger than Nestle's chips.

Yesterday, I tried a new chocolate chip cookie recipe from In the Sweet Kitchen by Regan Daley - I've had her cookbook for years (literally) but have only made a couple recipes from it. Why? Because I have too many dessert cookbooks and haven't gotten to making a lot from most of them. Hence why I've banned myself from buying new cookbooks in 2009. Anyway, the recipe had all the usual ingredients in varying proportions from all the other recipes I've tried but in my eternal optimism, I thought I'd give this one a shot. Plus I was seeing a friend for dinner that night and it's unthinkable for me to meet friends without giving some kind of baked goodie bag. The cookies were fabulous. Usually when I try out a new recipe, I eat one piece as a taste test. If I really like something, I talk myself into a second (or third) piece. With these cookies I had two. I could've eaten a third but I'd only baked 6 and had to leave some for my friend. But I do have the rest of the cookie dough in the freezer waiting to be baked off. I have a work lunch next week where I could bring the cookies. And eat another one for myself, of course, once that next batch has been 10 minutes out of the oven.

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature

1 cup tightly packed light brown sugar

½ cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs

1½ teaspoons pure vanilla extract

3 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 teaspoon baking soda

½ teaspoon salt

1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Line two heavy, not non-stick, baking sheets with parchment paper, or lightly butter them, and set them aside. In the bowl of an electric or stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or a large bowl if mixing by hand, cream the butter and both sugars until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well and scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. Beat in the vanilla.

2. Sift the flour, baking soda and salt together into a small bowl. Add the dry ingredients to the butter-sugar mixture, mixing until just combined. Fold in the chocolate chunks.

3. Using your hands, shape knobs of dough about the size of a large walnut into balls and place them 2 inches apart on the baking sheets. Stagger the tows of cookies to ensure even baking. Bake 12 to 15 minutes for smaller cookies, 14 to 17 minutes for larger cookies, or until the tops are light golden brown. Cool the cookies on the sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely. They can be stored airtight at room temperature for up to 1 week.

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