Thursday, September 22, 2011

The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies Ever

With a few simple tips, techniques, and secret ingredients, you can make the most amazing chocolate chip cookies ever created. They will ruin your taste for store bought cookies, and your friend will request them from her deathbed when no other food is appealing to her (true story!).

This recipe is based on the standard Nestle chocolate chip recipe (on the back of the bag), but I've made a few modifications and included techniques to make the cookies turn out extra-delicious, for instance, using different chocolate chips!

  • 1 1/2 cups white flour
  • 3/4 cup white whole wheat flour (or whole wheat pastry flour)
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  • 1 cup butter (2 sticks)
  • 3/4 cup sugar (or less)
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar (packed)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 12 oz bag of Guitard semi-sweet chocolate chips
Several hours before you begin, pull your butter and eggs out of the refrigerator to allow them to get closer to room temperature. Your butter should still be firm, but malleable. The eggs should be as close to room temperature as possible. You'll have to experiment and see how far in advance to set these items out in your kitchen depending on the temperature of your home.

In a small bowl or measuring cup, combine flours, baking soda and salt. I measure the flours precisely by leveling my measuring cup with a knife, and use the knife to combine the ingredients before adding them to the cookie batter. The whole wheat flour is the first secret ingredient--not only does it add a nice texture to the cookies, but is also adds the illusion of these cookies being 'nutritious'. (They're not.)

Preheat your oven to 365 degrees. (Most recipes call for 375 degrees, but I find that is too high a temperature for my oven. Your oven may be different.)

In your stand mixer, combine the butter, sugar, and brown sugar until well blended. Next, break one egg in a separate bowl, remove any shells and beat lightly. Add the egg to the butter mixture and (very important) beat until the egg is very well blended. Add the second egg the same way and beat thoroughly until blended. The batter should have a 'fluffy' look at this point if a) the ingredients were at room temperature and b) the eggs were sufficiently beaten. These techniques will give your cookies a light, airy texture. Add the vanilla.

Next it is time to add the flour mixture. The goal is to combine the flour mixture thoroughly without overmixing the cookie batter, as that will make the texture of the cookies tougher. I use a 1/4 cup scoop to add flour steadly to the mixer, then tip the bowl over the mixer to add the final amount. As soon as the flour is almost blended, turn the mixer off. Don't overmix!

It's time for the second secret ingredient, which is the bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips. You could use other brands, but none of them will be as wonderful as the Guitard semi-sweet chocolate chips. After many years of research, I have concluded that these are the best tasting chocolate chips on Earth. They're not very impressive when eaten raw, but when added to baked goods such as these cookies, or
Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Muffins, they are wonderful.

Add the semi-sweet chocolate chips to the batter, mixing until they are barely distributed in the cookie batter, then turn the mixer off right away--don't overmix!

It's time to spoon the cookie dough onto cookie sheets. I use my Pampered Chef medium (?) scoop for this task. I treat the dough very carefully and avoid packing it into the scoop to conserve the air bubbles I've made in the batter. Pressing the dough tightly into the scoop will result in dense, tough cookies. If you don't have a handy scoop, you can use two spoons (one to scoop, one to scrape). Place the dough on an ungreased cookie sheet 2-3 inches apart.

Bake for 6 minutes, then rotate your cookie sheets for even baking (rotate one sheet 180 degrees, and if you are baking two sheets at once, rotate them both and then switch their locations top to bottom). Bake an additional 3-5 minutes. I like to pull mine out when they look like they are almost done in the middle.

While you are waiting for the cookies to bake, scoop out 12-16 on a separate cookie sheet to freeze for another day. It doesn't matter how far apart these are on the sheet, because they aren't going to spread out in the freezer. I like to freeze 16 cookies because that is how many fit on my cookie sheet. After they are frozen on the cookie sheet (in this case, my toaster oven tray), I'll transfer them to a plastic storage container. In the future when I'm ready to bake them, I'll simply place them on a cookie sheet and pop them in the oven. They may take a few extra minutes to bake when they are frozen. This also reduces the amount of cookies available for inhalation on the day you bake the main batch.

Let the cookies cool for several minutes, then transfer them to a cooling rack with a spatula. The recipe makes 5 dozen cookies total.

Try not to moan while eating them. It's a bad example for the kids!

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