Friday, September 6, 2013

Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Can you believe it's already September?  As excited as I am for the upcoming change of season, I'm still having some trouble wrapping my head around the fact that summer, as we know it, is technically over.  It's felt like this for a while, as the weather has been steadily cooling off for the past couple of weeks, and it's a change I always embrace with open arms.  For me, there's nothing greater than being able to step outside in nothing but a pair of jeans and a tshirt and feel perfectly comfortable in 75 degree weather.  I think I'm one of the few people that might just prefer the seasonal transition period more than the arrival of the new season itself, which is saying a lot for this time of year, since I absolutely love fall and everything about it.  It's one of the reasons I love living in New York; I can't imagine not being able to experience seasonal changes that involve more than a few shifts in temperature.  Crisp breezes, fall leaves, and layers upon layers of scarves; I'm ready for you.  But until then, I'm perfectly happy in this seasonal middle ground. 


The arrival of fall and cooler weather always prompts me to turn my oven on more often and for longer lengths of time.  I'd never even consider turning my oven on for over an hour to bake a cheesecake during the summer, but now that it's not 90 degrees outside in the shade anymore, I think a project like that seems perfectly reasonable around now.  It would seem reasonable if you love cheesecake, but seeing as I actually don't love cheesecake, I can't exactly foresee myself mixing up a cheesecake and baking it for an hour in my oven any time soon, but I'm sure you catch my drift.  What fall does mean though, is that it's back to school time, which means bake sales, afterschool snacks, and school lunches are happening, which also means that it's time to turn your oven on to bake up some really classic sweets, with chocolate chip cookies being at the top of the list.  I may not be participating in back to school season, but I still think my logic is pretty sound.  


A good chocolate chip cookie is something that I'm sure you've come to realize can be hard to come by.  I mean, sure, all the recipes start off the same, with butter, brown sugar, white sugar, some flour, a few eggs, a pinch of salt, and of course, the chocolate chips, and maybe even some oats or nuts for good measure. Shouldn't all recipes that start off essentially in similar fashions yield essentially similar results?  This is obviously very far from the truth.  I'm sure I'm not alone in having attempted a new chocolate chip cookie recipe that seemed especially promising, only to be completely underwhelmed by the finished cookies when it came time to taste them.  Even more disappointing are the times when you first taste a cookie and realize that this version could actually be the one, and then upon tasting one of the cookies the next day, you find yourself eating a hockey puck version of what should be a soft and gooey cookie.  The perfect chocolate chip cookie should not fit either of these descriptions. It should be delicious warm from the oven, perfectly soft at room temperature, and still maintain a gooey center the next day.  If a cookie can combine these three crucial components, then it's bound to be a winner.


I've made chocolate chip cookies more times than I can count, and while I've found two solid recipes that I really like, I never felt that they were perfect.  They were delicious in every sense of the term, but they just weren't as perfect as they could have been.  I wanted a true bakery style chocolate chip cookie, one that was perfectly crisp on its outside edges yet oh-so-soft and gooey in its center.  The  perfect cookie needed to be delicious at all stages of its life cycle, from its warm-from-the-oven stage to when my craving for a cookie struck again the next day.  The perfect cookie needed to have tons of chocolate chips in every single bite, and needed to have a rustic craggy texture while being perfectly round and uniform at the same time.  That's not too much to ask for, right?  I certainly didn't think so, and fortunately, neither did the amazing guys at the famed bakery, Baked, in Red Hook, Brooklyn.  While I've still not managed to make the trek to Red Hook to personally drive myself into a sugar-induced coma by sampling all of their delicious treats, I have had the chance to make their Whiteout cake (except mine was pink and ombre), and their infamous Baked brownies, and given how much I loved those two recipes, it was only natural that I would fall in love with their recipe for classic chocolate chip cookies.   


Matt and Renato's recipe for chocolate chip cookies uses the essentially the same ingredients that are found in any other chocolate chip cookie recipe, but their version is all kinds of crazy in comparison.  By using twice the amount of brown sugar as white sugar, the chocolate chip cookies have a wonderfully soft texture, a soft texture that stays soft as the cookies cool and are then stored for later consumption.  All that extra brown sugar not only gives the cookies their soft texture, but also gives the cookies added flavor. These cookies have rich and lovely caramel undertones in every bite, which I find to be a much nicer way to sweeten up cookies than relying on white sugar.  White sugar just makes things taste overly sweet, in my opinion, so I love playing up the brown sugar in recipes in order to give them the sweetness they need with the benefit of some added flavor.  The Baked chocolate chip cookie is also loaded with chocolate chips- a whole pound of them to be exact!  Initially, I thought this might be unnecessary, but then my senses came back to me and I realized that more chocolate is always better, and was completely necessary if I wanted chocolate in every bite of my cookies.  Next time (and there will certainly be a next time), I may decide to cut back a bit on the chocolate, but only so that I can make some room in the cookie dough for some walnuts or pecans.  The dough to chocolate chip ratio is ridiculous in this recipe- you might find yourself thinking that there's actually not enough cookie dough in the recipe to properly hold all the chocolate chips, but once these cookies come out of the oven, all your fears will immediately subside.  The ratio is actually just perfect. The one major difference between this recipe for chocolate chip cookies and most others, is the fact that you must chill the dough for six hours before shaping and baking the cookies.  This is a technique that has been documented and heavily discussed since the infamous recipe for the New York Times chocolate chip cookie (which calls for letting the cookie dough chill in the fridge for 36 hours) came about, as this additional resting time is supposed to help the flavors in the cookie dough come together and result in a perfectly textured cookie.  I've never made the recipe, as I don't think I'm patient enough to wait the full 36 hours, but after seeing the incredible results from chilling this cookie dough for 6 hours, I think I may just have to start adopting this technique for some of my other favorite cookie recipes to see if they will improve as well.   


Because these thick and chewy chocolate chip cookies remain soft and retain their straight-from-the-oven quality the day after baking, they would make for a perfect snack for kids and would definitely hold up well for bake sales.  Simply bake the cookies up on a lazy Sunday afternoon, and pack them in your child's school lunch or have them ready with a tall glass of milk for the perfect afterschool snack.  If you don't have kids, well, I suggest you do the same anyway.  Bring these cookies to work, have them for a midnight snack, and share with friends.  From my own experience, these cookies only last about a day, simply because they're so good, you'll find that you can't eat just one...or two...or even three.  You may may find that you need to make a double batch, so go ahead.  I won't judge!

Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
recipe from Baked: New Frontiers in Baking

Ingredients

2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, but still slightly cold
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
16 ounces semisweet chocolate chips

Directions

In a medium bowl, combine the flour, salt and baking soda, whisking to combine.  Set aside. 

In the bowl of a standard electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the butter and both sugars until they are just combined. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, making sure to beat in well after each addition.  Add the vanilla, and mix for a few seconds. 

Scrape down the sides of the mixer bowl, and add about half of the dry ingredients to the butter-sugar mixture, mixing for about 15 seconds.  Add the remaining dry ingredients, and mix only until just combined. Make sure you don't overmix!  



Fold in the chocolate chips.  Tightly cover the mixer bowl with plastic wrap, and refrigerate the cookie dough for six hours (I know, it sounds like an impossible task, but I promise these cookies will be well worth your patience).


Position a rack in the middle of the oven, and preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.  Line baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone liners.  Using a cookie scoop, portion out scoops of cookie dough onto the baking sheets.  Roll each portion of cookie dough into a perfect ball, and arrange on the prepared baking sheets, spacing them about two inches apart from each other on all sides.  


Bake the cookies for about 12 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through the baking time.  Allow the cookies to cool for a few minutes on the baking trays before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely (although you should definitely make sure to enjoy at least one, if not more, fresh from the oven).  Once completely cool, the cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to one day (I'm sure they can be stored for longer than that, but they probably won't last that long.  My batch sure didn't, at least).  Enjoy!

Makes about 3 dozen cookies

4 comments:

  1. I made these yesterday for our family and they couldn't get enough. Thank you!

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    Replies
    1. Happy your family liked them! I'm actually going to be baking up a batch of these tonight myself!

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  2. I just made these and unfortunately my cookies didn't spread out and just kind of remained in a more ball-like shape :( Did I overwork the dough? I left it in the fridge overnight and I did the measurements right.

    However, I'd like to say that these cookies are delicious either way, and I hope to perfect the recipe for next time! :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sorry your cookies didn't work out! It's funny, because I've made this recipe so many times since I first posted them and they always spread for me. Hopefully next time yours will spread, and at least you thought they were delicious! Good luck.

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