Sunday, December 30, 2012

chocolate chip cookies.

I know the chocolate chip cookie is the most basic of all cookies.  Everyone no matter how little they cook probably has a go to chocolate chip cookie recipe - the kind of thing they can whip up on any random Sunday afternoon in order to have fresh booked cookies to be devoured while watching bad TV (don't tell me I'm the only one who does this).  I have also tried almost all of your favorite chocolate chip cookie recipes - I have spent the better part of the past 3 years searching for  the chocolate chip cookie recipe.  I have gone highbrow and lowbrow.  I have used all-purpose flour and bread flour.  I have allowed my dough to sit 48 hours in the fridge before baking the cookies off.  I have tried what feels like everything and yet I still have not found that perfect cookie (not to say my attempts were failed attempts in anyway but they all seemed to lack that certain je ne sais quai that makes the cookie perfect or maybe I am just overly tough on myself).  But I have found a chocolate chip cookie recipe that satisfies me (for the moment) - the edges bake up crispy, the middle is soft and chewy, there is more then enough chocolate involved, and the flaky sea salt a top the cookie makes it utterly grown up (while still adhering to to the promise of it being a perfect childhood favorite).  

Chocolate Chip Cookies
Recipe adopted from Ad Hoc by Thomas Keller 

Ok my notes - I used the good butter and the good chocolate (Pulga and Valhrona!), it really makes a world of a difference.  I also let the batter rest overnight in the fridge before baking them - the 24-36 hour rest really make the flavors meld.  I'll also be the first to say that the sea salt is absolutely necessary.  You can thank me later. 

Makes about 20 4-inch cookies 

2 1/3 cups + 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
5 ounces 55% chocolate, cut into chip-sized pieces (about 1 ¼ cups)
5 ounces 70-72% chocolate, cut into chip-sized pieces (about 1 ¼ cups)
¾ cup toasted walnuts, finely chopped
½ pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cut into small pieces (at room temperature)
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
¾ cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
Flaky sea salt for sprinkling

In a large bowl combine the flour, baking soda, and kosher salt.  Set aside. 

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat half the butter on medium speed until fairly smooth. Add both sugars and the remaining butter, and beat until well combined, then beat for a few minutes, until the mixture is light and creamy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the eggs one at a time, beating until the first one is incorporated before adding the next and scraping the bowl as necessary.  Add the vanilla.  Add the dry ingredients and mix on low speed to combine. Mix in the chocolate and nuts.

Remove the bowl from the mixer and fold the dough with a spatula to be sure that the chocolate is evenly incorporated.  Place the dough in the fridge for at least 24 hours to allow the dough to rest and the flavors to incorporate.  (The dough or shaped cookies can be refrigerated, well wrapped, for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 2 weeks. Freeze shaped cookies on the baking sheets until firm, then transfer to freezer containers.  Defrost frozen cookies overnight in the refrigerator before baking.)

Position the oven racks in the lower and upper thirds of the oven and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with Silpats or parchment paper.  Using about 2 level tablespoons per cookie, shape the dough into balls. Arrange 8 cookies on each pan, leaving about 2 inches between them, because the dough will spread.  Top each ball of dough with a sprinkle of flaky sea salt.  Bake for 12 minutes, or until the tops are no longer shiny, switching the position and rotating the pans halfway through the baking.
Cool the cookies on the pans on cooling racks for about 2 minutes to firm up a bit, then transfer to the racks to cool completely. Repeat to bake the remaining cookies. (The cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 days.)

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