Friday, November 22, 2013

Back to Basics: Chocolate Chip Cookies

I was bored after work yesterday, so I baked cookies.  That's a totally normal thing to do, right?  I had a long list of things I need to do--answer emails, paint my badly chipped nails, order Chanukkah presents for my family, watch Modern Family--but last night I decided that baking chocolate chip cookies was much more important.  

I take chocolate chip cookies very seriously.  If I am going to spend the time baking cookies (and the calories eating them), the cookies better be delicious.  There are a lot of different recipes out there, including ones that make you wait a whole 24 hours before you can even bake them.  I have tried dozens of recipes over the years, but this Cook's Illustrated recipe below is my all-time favorite.  They produce a perfect cookie with crispy edges, and a soft chewy center.  These are totally worth the calories, and they are so easy to make on a weeknight.  

This recipe calls for browned butter, which adds a much deeper toffee flavor.  I suggest using a lighter colored pan to cook the butter in--I always have difficulty judging the color of browned butter in a dark non-stick pan!

Cook's Illustrated Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes 16 cookies

1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
14 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar (try to use unopened brown sugar if possible)
1 teaspoon table salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 egg yolk
1 1/4 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips or chunks (Guittard is my favorite brand)

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk flour and baking soda together in medium bowl; set aside.
2. Heat 10 tablespoons butter in 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat until melted, about 2 minutes. Continue cooking, swirling pan constantly until butter is dark golden brown and has nutty aroma, 1 to 3 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and, using heatproof spatula, transfer browned butter to large heatproof bowl. 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. Let mixture stand for 3 minutes, then whisk for 30 seconds. Repeat process of resting and whisking 2 more times until mixture is thick, smooth and shiny. Using rubber spatula or wooden spoon, stir in flour mixture until just combined, about 1 minute. Stir in chocolate chips, giving dough final stir to ensure no flour pockets remain.
4. Divide dough into 16 portions, each about 3 tablespoons (or use a #24 cookie scoop). Arrange 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets, 8 dough balls per sheet.
5. Bake cookies 1 tray at a time until cookies are golden brown and still puffy, and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft, 10-14 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking. Transfer baking sheet to wire rack; cool cookies completely before serving.  

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