After we first moved to NYC last winter, we held a small housewarming party to let our friends know we'd arrived. Among the many winter treats we had for our guests to enjoy, I served warm, freshly baked chocolate chip cookies. They stole the show. Ever since then I've become somewhat famous for them amongst my friends. On more than one occasion, I’ve extended invitations to come to dinner only to have the invitee throw propriety right out the window and ask, “Will you be serving the chocolate chip cookies?”
Honestly, I can’t blame them. These cookies are big and they lusciously ooze with melting chocolate. I’m not really tooting my own horn here because the recipe isn’t really mine at all. I adapted it from Mssr. Jacques Torres via the New York Times. Given that Chef Torres recently charmed his way into my heart and tummy, I thought it was time to come clean – or as clean one can be with chocolate covered fingers.
The article and accompanying recipe were published in the New York Times a few years ago, but I still highly recommend that any cookie lovers out there read it and hit print immediately. They did an excellent job of breaking down all the factors that go into the perfect chocolate chip cookie.
I’ve only made a few tweaks to their recipe over time. I picked up a tip along the way from Christopher Kimball (I’m not sure if it was via Cook’s Illustrated or America’s Test Kitchen) that melting the butter before mixing it with the sugar, rather than creaming them together, helps add caramelized flavor to the cookie.
I should also tell you that a light sprinkling of sea salt over the tops of the pre-baked cookies is an absolute must. I try to hit the chocolate specifically, as the combination of chocolate and salt is heavenly and it truly makes the chocolate dance on your tongue. I also like a little spice with my chocolate, so I add a hint of cinnamon to the batter. Not a lot – just enough to lightly tickle your taste buds.
The last trick to any chocolate chip cookie is to get the timing right. It is definitely better to under-bake the cookies slightly. They’ll firm up enough on their own once you pull them out of the oven and will remain moist on the inside. I start checking on them a couple minutes before the recommended time, and I pull them once the edges start to get brown and the dough looks like it is just cooked enough to no longer be raw and hold its form. It takes a little practice to get the timing exactly right, but I don’t think you’ll suffer too much as you taste test to practice.
You will want to splurge a bit and get good chocolate for these cookies, as the ooey-gooey factor relies upon it. Since I live near a Jacques Torres shop, I usually use his chocolate discs and the result is pure chocolate decadence.
I will give you one word of caution. This recipe requires an almost inhuman degree of self-control since to achieve the best flavor you have to let dough rest in the fridge for at least 24 hours and ideally for 72. I might recommend making a little extra as little elves are sure to steal a bit here and there when you have a big bowl of cookie dough in your fridge for 3 days. You may find that you are one of those elve
I have only limited willpower when it comes to cookie dough and can’t exert such constant effort at resistance on a regular basis, so my trick is to make a double-recipe. I then form the dough into logs and roll them up in wax paper. The logs gets stored in zip-locks bags in the freezer and I slice off just what I need as occasions arise. Since the dough is frozen, you can’t constantly pick at it. Plus, why make a whole batch all at once and allow your cookies to get cold and stale, when you can have them warm and fresh out of the oven?!
Having a secret stash in your freezer will also allow you to impress any last minute guests with something truly special for dessert and you will be hailed as kitchen goddess or god. My BFF is one of the biggest cheerleaders for these cookies, so for her birthday recently I made her a batch and packed up a few extra rolls for her to stock in the freezer to enjoy later.
And I think I hardly need mention that this also the perfect thing to serve to a special someone you might want to dazzle and romance.
Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from Jacques Torres via the New York Times
Time: 45 minutes (for 1 6-cookie batch), plus 24-72 hours chilling time.
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 melted 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 (I like vanilla, so I always go a little heavier on it. My preference is for Nielsen-Massey Vanilla Paste.)
1 1/4 pounds bittersweet chocolate disks or fèves (One 2 lb. bag of Jacques Torres discs per double recipe works just fine.)
Cinnamon to taste (optional)
1. Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Set aside.
2. Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, mix 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.