I've been taking on some cooking demons recently: for example, cooking an entire chicken. Next on the list was something I have tried at many times, and failed at many times: Chocolate Chip Cookies. I know, I know-- "They're the easiest!" "WTF!" "What is wrong with you!" Well, fine. But I have fucked them up every time. I feel like cookies have a pretty small window when you should take them out, and maybe I never got the hang of that, but, in addition to burned bottomed cookies, I've also had batches that just ectoplasmed all over the cookie sheet--retaining no shape whatsoever and being, ultimately, inedible--or not easily edible without a fork. To get to the point, I was consoled recently by a piece in Cook's Illustrated wherein someone on their staff laments the difficulty of making truly good chocolate cookies. I am not alone in my failure and frustration! Well, naturally, I decided to give the ensuing recipe a shot, and here it is:
Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies
Cook's Illustrated May & June 2009 (adapted with some minor commentary by me)
1 3/4 c. unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
14 TB (1 3/4 sticks) unsalted butter
1/2 c. granulated sugar
3/4 c. packed dark brown sugar
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 1/4 c. semisweet chocolate chips (I used the recommended Ghirardelli semisweet)
3/4 c. chopped pecans or walnuts, toasted (optional, thank god.)
1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. (I never do this right away because I feel like it wastes gas, and also I am slow at getting everything together. Do this whenever you feel like you're about 10 minutes away from baking and you should be fine). Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. I recently discovered the joys of parchment paper. JOYS.
Whisk flour and baking soda together in medium bowl; set aside.
2. Heat 10 TB of butter in a 10 inch skillet over medium high heat until melted, about 2 minutes. Don't use a non-stick or otherwise darkly bottomed pan for this...it will be harder to tell when the butter is browned and things will get burney very quickly.
Butter in the pan (not really a ten-inch skillet, I know)
Continue cooking, swirling pan CONSTANTLY[,] until butter is dark golden brown and has a nutty aroma, 1 to 3 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and, using heatproof spatula transfer browned butter to large heatproof bowl. (Ok your spatula would have to be pretty bad to melt on contact with browned butter...)
Here's my browned butter. It should probably be a shade or two darker, but I was getting dizzy staring into the swirls of butter.
Stir remaining 4 tablespoons butter into hot butter until completely melted.
3. Add both sugars, salt, and vanilla to bowl with butter and whisk until fully incorporated. Add egg and yolk and whisk until mixture is smooth with no sugar lumps remaining, about 30 seconds (cue Black Eyed Peas song to be stuck in your head for days, sorry). Let mixture stand three minutes, then whisk for 30 seconds. Repeat process of resting and whisking two more times until mixture is thick, smooth and shiny. Ok I know this part sounds obnoxious, but they explained with Science in the magazine how it makes the cookies chewier or something. Just do it.
See? Look how shiny!
Using rubber spatula, or the remnants of the one you melted into the butter because you bought it from a street cart and it was made out of hemp, or wooden spoon if your spatula totally disintegrated, stir in the flour mixture from way back at the start of this thing until just combined, about 1 minute. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts (if using...bleh), giving dough a final stir to ensure no sneaky flour pockets remain.
4. Divide dough into 16 portions, each about 3 tablespoons (or use #24 cookie scoop...whatever that is, I just used a smallish ice cream scoop.) Arrange 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets, 8 dough balls per sheet.
5. Bake cookies 1 tray at a time until [they] are golden brown, still puffy, and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft, 10 to 14 minutes (I think I ended up at 11 minutes per...but it depends on your oven, etc.), rotating baking sheet halfway through baking. Transfer baking sheet to wire rack; cool cookies completely before eating all of them before anyone else can.
My first foray into food porn.
These are pretty darn good, I have to say. Just the right ratio of chewy to crispy and browning the butter added a nice depth to the flavor. This is going to be my go-to chocolate chip cookie recipe from now on.