Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Best Chocolate Chip Cookies

Updated: I have been working on this recipe.  (Some people spend their time finding the cure for cancer; I am hard at work creating the perfect chocolate chip cookie.  Go figure.)  So I added a bit more salt (it doesn't make the cookies salty; just more flavorful).  And I refrigerated the dough - cold dough doesn't spread as much and keeps the cookies thicker while staying tender, moist and gives them a bakery look.  Try the new and improved version and let me know what you think!

This chocolate chip cookie breaks the rules. All the rules. It is ridiculously delicious. It is tender, gooey and chocolate-y. It is bigger than it should be. And you will love it.

It is my take of a Southern Living recipe. We all know that Southern Living knows best. If you didn't already know that, allow me to tell you: Southern Living knows best. Subscribe today. No, they didn't tell me to say that.

Start with cold butter. You heard me. Cold butter. I told you this recipe breaks all the rules, and the cardinal rule of baking is to use room-temperature ingredients. If you have the urge to use room-temperature butter, use another recipe.  Because for these cookies, we want our butter cold.

Okay, put your cold butter in your KitchenAid mixer. If you do not have a KitchenAid, your life is not complete.

Add 3/4 cup of white sugar and 3/4 cup of dark brown sugar to your cold butter. If you do not have dark brown sugar, wake your children from their naps, put them in their carseats, drive to the grocery and purchase dark brown sugar.

Then lock your mixer. If you don't believe me, leave it unlocked and you'll be cleaning clods of butter off your walls, floor and countertops for a long time. Now beat it until it is one homogenous mixture. See? I told you that cold butter is a must. And look at the color: this is why you want dark brown sugar.

Add the eggs, one at a time and mix well.  The eggs make it nice and creamy like this:
At this point, before adding the flour, you cannot over-mix the dough.  Not until we add the flour is over-mixing the dough a concern.  As soon as we add flour, over-mixing becomes a very real concern.  That is, if you're ever concerned about cookie dough. And I am. 

Add the vanilla. Make sure it is the real deal. Never, ever use imitation vanilla extract.  I know my vanilla picture is blurry.  And that is a shame.  But the important thing is that it's the real stuff.

Side story about vanilla: my husband and I were shopping at Sam's. As I was placing this super-sized bottle of Real Vanilla Extract into our cart, I made him promise that if something happened to me, he would never, ever buy the imitation stuff. I needed to be sure that he would pass on my vanilla values to our children. He looked between our two babies in the cart and then looked at me like my mind had just vacated the premises.

Of course. But at the moment, it was just something I needed to say. And I felt better after saying it.

Back to the baking at hand.  Once you add the wonderful flavor of vanilla, you want to add the dry ingredients.

Don't sift the flour. Don't dirty up another bowl by combining the flour, salt and baking power and then adding it slowly to the wet ingredients. I told you this recipe breaks all the baking rules. So just do it the way I say to do it. And you won't be sorry.

While the mixer is off, add the salt and of baking soda. Add the flour - all at once. Two cups, one-fourth cup, and two tablespoons of flour.  I realize it is a random amount of flour. Don't mess with it. Just do it.

Now you're ready to pulse. You can do squats while you pulse the mixer if that makes you feel better about the gooeyness you are about to enjoy.

We just entered the point of don't overmix the dough. It will develop the gluten in the flour. Now, I don't know what that actually means, but it sounds bad, doesn't it?  Basically, over-mixing will make your cookie taste like cake instead of a cookie.  If you want cake, make cake.  Just don't make your cookies into cake.

Pulse the mixer until the ingredients are almost combined. Then turn off your mixer and add the chocolate chips. I like a mix of semi-sweet and milk chocolate chips: the perfect combo of sweet and not-too-sweet.  Pulse again until the chips are almost incorporated, and then finish the job with a spatula by hand.  Remember, we don't want to over-mix the dough.  Scrape the bottom of the bowl well, because mixers never reach those spots.

Dear Mom: This is what the paddle attachment looks like.  Please do not use the whisk attachment to make these cookies.  Love, Lizzie.

Once the chocolate chips are combined, stick the whole mixing bowl into the refrigerator.  Chill the dough for at least 30-45 minutes.  If you want to skip this step, the cookies will taste the same but will be a little flatter than the chilled ones.

Use an ice cream scoop to portion the cookies.  Now you have two options.  You can either bake these immediately.  Or you can store the dough balls in the freezer.  Then, you can just bake them as you need them.  Is the word "need" appropriate to use when discussing chocolate chip cookies?  I think it is.  When you're ready to bake the frozen ones, just take them straight from the freezer to the oven - no thawing needed.

I froze some.  And I baked some.  It is best to use a baking sheet that has air bubbles in the sheet so your cookies don't get too brown. Bake them at 350 for about 13-15 minutes (obviously reduce your baking time if your cookies are not monsters like mine).

Pour yourself a glass of whole milk that you bought for your toddlers. Eat your warm cookie with a fork.

Tell me that doesn't break the rules.

Best Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from Southern Living

1 1/2 sticks cold butter
3/4 cup sugar
3/4 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1 1/2 tsp vanilla
2 large eggs
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups milk chocolate chips

In a mixer, use the paddle attachment to beat the butter with both sugars until it is completely combined. Add the vanilla and both eggs and beat until combined.

Add the salt, baking soda and flour and pulse until almost combined. Scrape down the mixer. Add all of the chocolate chips and pulse again until almost combined. Finish incorporating the chips with a spatula, and make sure you scrape the bottom of the mixing bowl well.  At this point, you want to refrigerate the dough for 2-3 hours.  You can either scoop it onto a parchment paper-lined baking sheet and then refrigerate...or you can refrigerate the bowl of dough and then scoop it out when it's cold.  (I find that the dough is harder to scoop when it's cold.)

Bake at 350 degrees on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper (makes for easy removal) for 8-12 minutes, depending on the size of your cookie. The cookies will look a little underdone when you take them out but will set up as they cool.


Marcela said...

For us technical and non butter loving folks, how much exactly is 1 1/2 sticks butter? (Cups ounces? ) thank you :)

Elizabeth said...

1 1/2 sticks butter = 12 tablespoons. (8 tablespoons in 1 stick of butter). Good luck! :)