05
Dec
08

My favorite chocolate chip cookies

It’s no secret that the first desserts I ever baked were some simple chocolate chip cookies.  And yet, simple as they were, they ended up horribly, prompting me to learn more about baking and its deep dark secrets.  Since then, I’ve had a life long hunt for the best chocolate chip cookies… not just a recipe, but also techniques and tricks.  I’ve tried probably about 10 different chocolate chip cookie recipes and variations (and even more recipes for non-chocolate chip cookies), and I finally stumbled upon my favorite a couple of months ago.

I discovered the tricks and recipe quite easily; my friend Becky Lai directed me to a couple of New York Times articles on this very subject (these articles can be found here and here).  The first article in particular has tips from some of my favorite bakers (such as Shirley O’Corriher and Dorie Greenspan).  When I first followed all these steps (along with other tricks I’ve learned from experienced) and baked the recipe in question, I was so amazed at the resulting cookies that I immediately took a couple and ran over to my neighbors’ (Donald and Chrissy’s) apartment.  They probably were wondering what I was so excited about, but after trying the cookies, they agreed they were the best things I’ve made so far 🙂

The recipe itself is neither time consuming (effort-wise) or complicated.  It does take a long time for the simple reason that you should allow the completed batter to chill for around 36 hours.  For this demo, I only had time to chill it for 24 hours before baking it for a Vox Pop cooking group.

Original recipe is as follows:

Chocolate Chip Cookies

(Recipe from NY Times, adapted from Jacques Torres)

Time: 45 minutes (for 1 6-cookie batch), plus at least 24 hours’ chilling

Ingredients

  • 2 cups minus 2 tablespoons (8 1/2 ounces) cake flour
  • 1 2/3 cups (8 1/2 ounces) bread flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
  • 2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter
  • 1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) light brown sugar
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (8 ounces) granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 pounds bittersweet chocolate disks or fèves, at least 60 percent cacao content (see note)
  • Sea salt.

Directions

1. Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Set aside.

2. Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars together until very light, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. Reduce speed to low, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds. Drop chocolate pieces in and incorporate them without breaking them. Press plastic wrap against dough and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours. Dough may be used in batches, and can be refrigerated for up to 72 hours.

3. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Set aside.

4. Scoop 6 3 1/2-ounce mounds of dough (the size of generous golf balls) onto baking sheet, making sure to turn horizontally any chocolate pieces that are poking up; it will make for a more attractive cookie. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and bake until golden brown but still soft, 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer sheet to a wire rack for 10 minutes, then slip cookies onto another rack to cool a bit more. Repeat with remaining dough, or reserve dough, refrigerated, for baking remaining batches the next day. Eat warm, with a big napkin.

Yield: 1 1/2 dozen 5-inch cookies.

Alright, now I’ll try to explain exactly what I did so the recipe is a little simpler to understand.

First, sifting the flour is important so you can be confident that there are no lumps of stray flour in your dough.  You can buy an actual sifter, but I find it easier to just set a big sieve over a bowl and whisk the flour through the sieve.  Note that I weighed the dough instead of measuring by cups.  While the “scoop-and-sweep” method is standard in America, it’s no secret that flour can be compressed easily; thus measuring flour by volume is highly inaccurate.  I definitely recommend using a scale with a tare function… they’re cheap!

Sifting the flour

Sifting the flour

After sifting both flours and measuring the rest of the dry ingredients, mix with a whisk to make sure everything is properly integrated.  In general, you will always prepare the wet ingredients, dry ingredients, and add-ins in separate containers.  You don’t want to add it all in at once then try to mix it.

Mix the dry ingredients

Mix the dry ingredients

Next, cream the butter and sugars until light and fluffy.  If your butter is not yet at room temperature, no problem; instead of microwaving it (and risking over heating the butter), just cut the butter into small slices (1 TBSP each) and place them in your mixing bowl.  Then with your stand mixer, cream the butter by itself for a few minutes… this will warm up the butter and make it soft without melting it.

Add both sugars and cream until light and fluffy.  Brown sugar gives cookies a richer taste, and the molasses helps keep the cookies nice and chewy since it absorbs moisture.

Cream the butter and sugars

Cream the butter and sugars

When you cream butter and sugar, you’re actually poking holes into the butter with the sugar crystals while simultaneously aerating it.  This is why you can’t just mix for a minute and call it done.  It should look something like this:

Light and fluffy

Light and fluffy

Now slowly add the dry ingredients with the mixer speed on low.  You don’t want to overbeat the batter, lest you risk activating too much of the gluten.  Just mix until well incorporated.

Adding the dry ingredients

Adding the dry ingredients

Now it’s time to chop up some chocolate!  I personally prefer Valrhona, but I unfortunately ran out last month and haven’t restocked 😦  For this demo, I used my handy block of Guittard chocolate… not as good, but still a lot better quality than anything you can get at a supermarket.

Carefully weigh out 20 ounces of chocolate, then coarsely chop them.  Feves are also good for this (and less work), but I didn’t have any on hand.

Measuring the chocolate

Measuring the chocolate

Chop chop!

Chop chop!

Add the chocolate by hand and mix just enough to incorporate.  Cover the bowl with a plastic wrap and chill for 24-36 hours!

Add the chocolate

Add the chocolate

Chill for 36 hours

Chill for 36 hours

Shirley explains this extra chill time thusly:

“Oh, that Maury’s a sly one,” said Shirley O. Corriher, author of “CookWise” (William Morrow, 1997), a book about science in the kitchen. “What he’s doing is brilliant. He’s allowing the dough and other ingredients to fully soak up the liquid — in this case, the eggs — in order to get a drier and firmer dough, which bakes to a better consistency.”

A long hydration time is important because eggs, unlike, say, water, are gelatinous and slow-moving, she said. Making matters worse, the butter coats the flour, acting, she said, “like border patrol guards,” preventing the liquid from getting through to the dry ingredients. The extra time in the fridge dispatches that problem. Like the Warm Rule, hydration — from overnight, in Mr. Poussot’s case, to up to a few days for Mr. Torres — was a tactic shared by nearly every baker interviewed.

After 36 hours have passed, it’s time to bake!  I normally weigh each cookie to be around 4 ounces (and thus about 5-6 inches in diameter), giving the cookie the full range of texture provided from the combination of bread flour, cake flour and high quality chocolate.

Sprinkle the top of each cookie liberally with sea salt… the higher quality the better 🙂

Ready for the oven!

Ready for the oven!

Bake at 350 deg on a silpat tray for about 18 minutes (or until edges are a nice golden brown) and you’re done!  That wasn’t too bad right? 🙂  Here are some smaller cookies I made for Vox Pop bake sale (3 inch diameter):

The fruits of our labor

The fruits of our labor

Here are a couple of pictures from previous attempts where I made larger, 5 inch cookies:

Enjoy with napkin and a cold glass of milk 🙂  Hope this was informative, enjoy the cookies!

Advertisements

11 Responses to “My favorite chocolate chip cookies”


  1. December 5, 2008 at 6:59 pm

    WTB> the Angry Baker.

    Those cookies look AMAZING – so thick! I actually wanted milk as I read it.

  2. December 6, 2008 at 3:31 pm

    Oh man, I’ve totally been wanting to make these cookies since I saw the recipe in the NYT. Thanks for running through it with all the pictures!

  3. 3 wok
    December 6, 2008 at 7:25 pm

    where’d you get a camera?

  4. 4 An
    December 6, 2008 at 9:05 pm

    I want to try one!! They do look pretty delicious. Thank you for putting your phone in the picture for a size comparison.

  5. 5 angrybaker
    December 6, 2008 at 9:41 pm

    Hey Vi, let me know how it goes! If you have any questions about the recipe, don’t hesitate to ask. The quality of the chocolate makes a big difference!
    I didn’t get a camera yet… this is Becky’s. I stupidly ordered my new camera and shipped it to my parents’ house….

  6. 6 Iris
    December 8, 2008 at 4:53 am

    Jin.. you really should look into creating some sort of recipe book. i think that it would actually do really well..

    and boy those cookies look good!

  7. December 9, 2008 at 8:37 pm

    These cookies were the best. Especially at 5 inches wide! You make my camera look better than it is. 😀


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: