March 29, 2011

The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie

I have never been a huge fan of cookies, because most tend to me hard and brittle. I’m more of a cake and brownies kinda girl. But since The Boyfriend happens to be a self-proclaimed Cookie Monster, when I saw this recipe for the PERFECT chocolate chip cookies from America’s Test Kitchen, I had to give it a try.

The thing that appealed to me was that the hosts of ATK acknowledge the current reigning champions of chocolate chip cookie recipes (the famous Tollhouse recipe, and the New York Times recipe from famed City Bakery and adapted by Mr. Chocolate himself, Jacques Torres) and tried to do it even better. I’ve stuck to the recipe for the most part, with a few adaptations here and there.

The results? Perfectly chewy and moist in the center, deliciously crunchy around the rim, and a rich deep toffee flavor that pretty much turned me into a cookie convert. SO. GOOD.

Your cast of characters:

INGREDIENTS for 16 Cookies from America’s Test Kitchen
* 1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (8 3/4 ounces)
* 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
* 14 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 3/4 sticks)
* 1/2 cup granulated sugar (3 1/2 ounces)
* 3/4 cups packed dark brown sugar (5 1/4 ounces)
* 1 teaspoon table salt
* 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
* 1 large egg
* 1 large egg yolk
* 1 1/4 cups semisweet chocolate chips or chunks

The recipe called for bittersweet chocolate chip disks from Ghirardelli, and I did try a batch with those but found them to be way too bitter. But that’s just me, I’ve never been a fan of bitter chocolate. So I used Ghirardelli’s semi-sweet instead.

Step 1: Adjust oven rack to middle position and pre-heat your oven to 375 degrees. Mix together the baking soda and flour and set it aside.

Step 2: Heat 10 tablespoons butter in a skillet on medium high heat until the butter starts to foam and brown up. You want the butter to develop a dark golden color, but be sure not to burn it! The smell should be incredible, a rich nutty aroma which usually takes me about 3 minutes to achieve. Turn off the heat and add in the remaining butter and whisk until it’s melted. Pour your delicious buttery concoction into a heat proof bowl.

Browned butter is amazing. On everything. I bet browned butter could make a piece of plastic super tasty.

Step 3: Add both sugars, salt, and vanilla to your bowl and whisk until everything is incorporated. Next add the egg and yolk and whisk until smooth. Now here’s the interesting part. You’re going to let the sugary buttery mixture stand for 3 minutes to let the sugar really dissolve into the mixture. I usually tidy up the kitchen while I wait. Then you’re going to whisk the mixture again for 30 seconds, and then let it rest again for 3 minutes. Repeat 1 more time until your mixture is smooth and shiny. There’s all sorts of chemical and scientific reasons why this makes for a tastier cookie. I’m not sure what those reasons are, but I know they exist. Next, mix in your flour and make sure to smooth out any clumps. Add in your chocolate chips and make sure everything is nice and blended.

Optional (but recommended) Step: I tried letting one batch rest for an hour in the refrigerator before portioning out, and I think that batch came out better than the unrested batches. Not necessary, but I do think it added a little something to the depth of flavor.

Step 4: Divide the dough into 16 portions, which is roughly 3 tablespoons, or you can make life easier by using an ice cream scoop. ATK recommends the #24 cookie scoop. You’re going to bake the cookies in two separate batches. So 8 cookies per batch. This is IMPORTANT! Baking the batches at the same time makes for uneven cooking.

Step 5: Bake 1 tray of cookies at a time until cookies are golden brown with the edges set, but the centers still a little puffy. 13 minutes is perfect for my oven. Set the cookies on racks to cool before serving. You really want to let it cool so that you can get that crispiness from the edges.

And there you are, the perfect chocolate chip cookies. If you want to be fancy, add a sprinkling of fleur de sel to the top of each cookie before serving. It sounds weird, but trust me, it adds a great little kick of saltiness.

If you’re like me and you’re afraid that having too many of these cookies around just in case you “accidentally” find yourself surrounded by a pile of crumbs, having eaten through the whole batch by yourself, share them with your friends and family. They’ll love you for it. I took this idea from Martha Stewart, and packaged up the cookies into CD sleeves. Then printed up some stickers using mailing labels to seal them in. Tuck in a little wax paper or something to soak up any excess oil and you’re good to go. Ingenious, right?

And off they go to new homes and tummies.

Happy Baking!

12 thoughts on “The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie

  1. Min

    If Brandon were home, I would be in the kitchen right now baking a batch for him. They look absolutely delicious, and your pictures are really wonderful, too.

  2. Kayla

    Your photos are stunning and the cookies look amazing. I have never made cookies with browned butter, but it looks like a fabulous trick!

  3. cakebrain

    I do love Cooks Illustrated and America’s Test Kitchen. I haven’t been disappointed by the recipes too often. Good looking Chocolate chip cookies!

  4. Portland Wedding Photographer

    Great pictures! It makes me a bit jealous I must add! I’m definitely going to use browned butter, in my next batch of cookies. Way to document such an ordinary event in any one’s life. But you added beautiful images and made it fun! Thank You!

  5. SaqibSaab

    I’ve been making these cookies for a few months now and recently came across this blog post via a Google search. This recipe is seriously the key to the perfect chocolate chip cookie.

    Your photography is so nice, I linked this blog post to my Twitter and tagged America’s Test Kitchen’s Twitter to it. Now they’ve linked you themselves. http://twitter.com/TestKitchen/status/58922606803423234

    Anywho, thanks and keep up the great work!

  6. Jenny Huang

    Hannah,

    I read every entry you post, but hardly comment, if ever. But this drew me out from the shadows.

    I love this one of the cookies. I’ve never made them from scratch, I just scoop out the Tollhouse premades, and somehow, they are still never 100% perfect.

    My boyfriend loved to make cookies while growing up, so I will share this with him and attempt on my own some day 😀 This actually made me want to try to make it from scratch!

    As always, I love your wedding photography. When I see your work along with other’s, you’ve got nothing on them! The lighting, composition, everything, is just fantastic!

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