Sunday, July 26, 2009

Best Chocolate Chip Cookies

Update: I made these for Treat the Troops and subbed a large 19-oz. package of M&Ms since chocolate chips melt in transit.

I can't say how many different versions of chocolate chip cookies I've made, but I'd guess it's probably 20 or so. I don't think I've ever had a truly bad CCC, but I have an ideal: crispy outside, chewy inside, balance of salt and sweet. This recipe is the best yet. When you bite into the cookie, it has a shatteringly crisp crust, but the cookie stays chewy and doesn't deflate or turn hard. The light sprinkle of sea salt on top balances the sweetness of the cookie.

I've been storing the dough in the refrigerator and making a sheet of cookies as needed, so I haven't seen one older than a day, but it was still soft and fresh tasting. Don't skip chilling, because the butter in the dough stays cold longer in the oven and your cookies won't spread and flatten. Four hours is probably the minimum chilling time.

I've adapted the recipe (mainly in size of cookies) from Jacques Torres in the NYT. Unfortunately, it's one of those fussy recipes that calls for two specialty flours: cake and bread. Cake has a low protein count and bread has a higher one, so I'm not sure why all-purpose wouldn't be a good halfway point. I'm almost afraid to try the substitution because they were so good as written. Don't miss the five minute butter/sugar creaming; that incorporates air into the dough.

Best Chocolate Chip Cookies (from Jacques Torres)

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 pound chocolate chips or bittersweet chocolate bar cut into chunks (note: I've reduced the amount of chocolate from the earlier version for a chewier cookie.)
Sea salt

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 4 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 just use an ungreased sheet. Set aside.

4. Scoop 1 1/2 inch balls of dough and place on sheet. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and bake until golden brown but still soft, 10-12 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.


Alison... said...

You've made 20 or more variations of chocolate chip cookies?

You Carroll's over achieve in everything, don't you?


Stephanie Carnes said...

Well, only the really important stuff - baking (me) and world domination (little sister).

Kristen said...

LMBO re: world domination

also amusing = shatteringly crisp outer crust

you are too cute.

Amy said...

I am a fan of the Carroll girls and their over-achievements. PS I had the opportunity to try these cookies, prepared and baked by Stephanie herself. And they are.... by far ..... the best I've ever had. Not sure I've tried 20 recipes, but at least 10, myself. When I ate one of these, still warm from the oven, I was speechless for a moment, and then began searching for appropriate words to describe the experience. So, try them, and enjoy them. My guess is, you'll never go back.