Chocolate Chip Cookies
Hello and Merry Christmas, world! After many moons of being told "you should start a food blog!" I've finally decided to commit to the blogosphere. Naturally, I'll begin at the beginning - with chocolate chip cookies. More specifically, today I'm sharing the "Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies" recipe from one of my favorite baking tomes, The Cook's Illustrated Baking Book. I highly recommend the book - in addition to a plethora of recipes, its full of conceptual baking information that will teach you why things work and give you more freedom to adapt and create your own recipes.
Chocolate Chip Cookies are by faaaar my most baked item over the years without a doubt, and this recipe has really been the heart of all that recently. I've tried all the usual suspects - Toll House, Jacques Torres, Levain-like, crispy, chewy, and packed with every kind of sub-topping imaginable. Amidst so many choices, this has been the safety blanket recipe that I've found myself retreating to over and over again. It's a bit more work than some of the old standards, but its totally worth it. There are also some oddities in the recipe order compared to standard drop cookies, so be sure to read through it before getting all your ingredients together.
Brown butter is the major key in making this recipe so special. If you've never tried it before, now is definitely the time to start! While many cookies fall victim to being a simple sugar overload, I find that the double dose of deep, nutty flavor from brown butter combined with toasted nuts complements all of that sweetness to create a more complex flavor spectrum. Granted, sometimes a sugary slap in the face is exactly what people want, but I'm finding myself less and less into that nowadays (insert old man emoji). The nuts are "officially" considered optional, but I highly recommend them for both the flavor and texture contrast that they produce.
Recipe originally from The Cook's Illustrated Baking Book - Makes 16 Large Cookies
- 210g (1 & 3/4 cups) all-purpose flour
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 200g (14 tbsp) unsalted butter
- 150g (3/4 cup) dark brown sugar
- 50g (1/4 cup) granulated sugar
- 1 tsp fine sea salt
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 large egg plus 1 large egg yolk
- 225g (1 & 1/4 cups) chocolate chips or chunks
- 85g (3/4 cup) pecans or walnuts, toasted and chopped (optional)*
- Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats and pre-heat oven to 375°F.
- Combine the dry ingredients. Sift flour and baking soda into a mixing bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside.
- Brown the butter. In a medium saucepan**, melt about 140g (10 tbsp) of the butter over medium-high heat. Slowly stir the butter constantly with a rubber spatula or swirl the pan to evenly distribute while cooking. When the butter is golden-brown and bubbly (1-3 minutes), remove from heat and transfer to large mixing bowl. Err on the side of under-cooking here if you're new to the process - slightly less brown butter is better than burnt butter. Add the remaining 4 tbsp of butter and stir until melted thoroughly into the browned butter.
- Add all sugars, salt, and vanilla to the butter and whisk until completely combined and smooth.Since we're using melted butter instead of softened butter, there's no need for vigorous mixing in this creaming process.
- Add egg and egg yolk to the wet ingredient mixture. Whisk for a quick 30 strokes or until mixture is smooth. Let the mixture sit for a couple minutes, then whisk again. Repeat this process two more times (for a total of four rounds of whisking). The mixture should be very glossy and smooth at this point.
- Stir in the dry ingredients using a rubber spatula until just combined and no dry flour spots remain. Do not over-mix.
- Using a rubber spatula, gently fold chocolate chips and nuts (if using) into the mixture.
- Scoop or roll out cookie dough into 3 tbsp balls and place on baking sheets. Remember to leave a couple inches of space between dough balls, as they will spread quite a bit while baking.
- Bake the cookies, one sheet at a time***, until edges are set and golden brown, but centers are still glossy and soft. This should take 10-14 minutes, depending on your oven. Rotate the baking sheet halfway through baking to ensure more even heating.
- Remove cookies from the oven and place the hot baking sheet on a wire rack to cool. When cookies have started to firm up (about 5 minutes), remove them from the sheet and place on another wire rack to cool completely.
Make-ahead tip: Balls of cookie dough freeze nicely. You can then bake the frozen dough balls without thawing; just add a couple minutes to the baking time (I know, I know - "A couple?! I want a number!" You'll always need to monitor cookies for done-ness, as someone else's recipe won't always cook the same way in your oven). Baked cookies can be frozen as well - just make sure they're completely cooled and free of moisture before freezing.
*To toast nuts, spread them on a baking sheet and toast in the 375° oven until golden brown and aromatic, about 8-10 minutes.
** I recommend a light colored/metallic pan for this, as it makes it much easier to monitor the butter. The butter will begin to fleck into black flakes when overcooked, and it can be difficult to spot if using a dark nonstick pan.
*** I know, its tempting to just bake everything at once. If you're using a standard single oven, don't. The heating will be uneven and your cookies will be sad. Sad cookies = sad you. Don't be sad. Bake one sheet at a time.