As the weather cools, my oven calls to me… time to warm the kitchen and fill the house with aromas of baked yumminess. After years of baking, I still don’t have an all-time, every-time chocolate chip cookie recipe. When I want a huge batch of cookies and an oatmeal flavor, I make these “Neimen Marcus” chocolate chip cookies. They are delicious but a bit time consuming due to the oatmeal flour and shaved chocolate. The truth is, I think the old Tollhouse recipe is hard to beat for a whip-it-up-quick batch of cookies. This is another good, basic chocolate chip cookie recipe I’ve found along the way.
When I gave away a few packages of Tate’s Bakeshop cookies, I asked people to tell me their favorite cookie recipe. The 82 responses were a perfect source of inspiration for new recipes and became somewhat of a “to do” list for my cookie experimentations. Many mentioned the recipe(s) from Cooks Illustrated. The team from their test kitchen claims to make hundreds of batches of everything so that we don’t have to. They make the mistakes, we enjoy the success. My scientific side is drawn to their analytical explanations of what works and why. (If you are in the market for a new general cookbook, I would highly suggest this recent hard cover beauty of theirs.)
For my latest batch of cookies, I baked up the Cook’s Illustrated “perfect chocolate chip cookies.” What makes them different is the browned butter. It takes a bit of time but the nutty flavored butter adds an unmistakable decadence to the finished cookie. I used semi-sweet Valrhona chocolate. I figured that if I was taking the time to make a “perfect chocolate chip cookie,” I better not ruin it with bad chocolate. The size of the cookie is larger than I usually bake but I didn’t mess with their recommended scoop knowing that it would alter the promised crunchy outside, soft inside.
The conclusion? These were really, really good cookies. This recipe will not end my chocolate chip cookie experimentations though I will come back to to it many times again. Perhaps for me, there is no “perfect” cookie? In the meantime, I’m enjoying the quest.
Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies from Cooks Illustrated
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 (or bittersweet) chocolate chips or chunks
3/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts, toasted (optional)
Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees F. Line 2 large (18- by 12-inch) baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk flour and baking soda together in medium bowl; set aside.
Heat 10 tablespoons butter in 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat until melted, about 2 minutes. Continue cooking, swirling pan constantly until butter is dark golden brown and has nutty aroma, 1 to 3 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and, using heatproof spatula, transfer browned butter to large heatproof bowl. Stir remaining 4 tablespoons butter into hot butter until completely melted.
Add both sugars, salt, and vanilla to bowl with butter and whisk until fully incorporated. Add egg and yolk and whisk until mixture is smooth with no sugar lumps remaining, about 30 seconds. Let mixture stand 3 minutes, then whisk for 30 seconds. Repeat process of resting and whisking 2 more times until mixture is thick, smooth, and shiny. Using rubber spatula or wooden spoon, stir in flour mixture until just combined, about 1 minute. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts (if using), giving dough final stir to ensure no flour pockets remain.
Divide dough into 16 portions, each about 3 tablespoons (or use #24 cookie scoop). Arrange 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets, 8 dough balls per sheet. (Smaller baking sheets can be used, but will require 3 batches.)
Bake cookies 1 tray at a time until cookies are golden brown and still puffy, and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft, 10 to 14 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking. Transfer baking sheet to wire rack; cool cookies completely before serving.