A few tweaks take classic cookie to new level

By | | Eating In

Sprinkled with salt, these could be the chocolate chip cookies of your dreams. The cookie is crisp around the edges and still chewy.
Sprinkled with salt, these could be the chocolate chip cookies of your dreams. The cookie is crisp around the edges and still chewy.
I confess that chocolate chip cookies had never been my strong suit in the kitchen. They would come out cakey or more often flat with bumps of chocolate cookies. That all changed when I was introduced to the chocolate chip cookie of my dreams. The cookie was crisp around the edges and still chewy. All it needed was to be warm.

This recipe for chocolate chip cookies is adapted from the July 9, 2008, New York Times recipe by David Leite, which is an adaptation of a cookie made at Jacques Torres Chocolate.

Recipes are like that. They surge in popularity, they ebb, they are adapted, they reappear. You add a little here, take something away there, fiddling until it is what you want.

In the magical world of baking, something extraordinary happens when you let the dough sit in the refrigerator for a day. The wet ingredients are absorbed into the dry ingredients and it all comes together to form a dough that does nothing but improve in flavor and texture as it sits in the refrigerator from 24 to 36 hours.

The original recipe calls for letting the dough chill en masse. That makes the dough difficult to form into balls so I shape the dough right away then chill the cookie balls. Leite’s recipe says to shape the dough the size of a generous golf ball. I like a smaller cookie, so let’s call mine walnut-size. For this size, a generous 2 tablespoons, use a No. 30 scoop.

Twenty-four hours is as long as I usually refrigerate the dough before freezing or baking, (I’m impatient and have just so much space in my refrigerator for a cookie sheet), but you could try the 36-hour wait.

This chill-and-freeze method works well with other shaped cookie doughs, particularly Snickerdoodles. Write baking directions on a gallon-size sealable freezer bag then put frozen cookie balls into the bag with a smaller bag of cinnamon sugar.

I freeze the dough because I really only like warm chocolate chip cookies. I can bake as many or as few as I want, meaning I never have to eat a cold cookie.

For me, the chocolate has to be dark (I use Guittard Extra Dark Chocolate Baking Chips) but you can use whatever level of chocolate-ness you like. Someone suggested cutting back on the chocolate chips. As this recipe is meant to be adapted to be your favorite cookie, you are invited to do so, even swapping out some of the chips for coconut or nuts if you feel the need.

The other essential after melty chocolate chips is the final touch of salt. While we’re going for perfection, I will be very picky and specify Maldon Sea Salt Flakes to sprinkle on top. The flakes of salt give a different sensation and flavor than chunkier crystals.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Makes about 5 dozen cookies.

  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 1/4 cups unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups light brown sugar, lightly packed
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 packages (about 24 ounces, depending on package, about 4 cups) chocolate chips or pieces
  • Maldon salt (flaky crystals) or kosher salt

Whisk together flour, baking soda, baking powder and salt. Set aside.

Cream butter, sugars, and vanilla until it lightens and starts to be fluffy. Scrape down bowl and beaters. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Reduce speed to low, slowly add dry ingredients and mix until just incorporated. Gently mix in chocolate chips.

Use small dishing scoop (a generous 2 tablespoons) to make cookies. Place almost touching on a rimmed plastic-wrap lined baking sheet. Cover tightly with plastic wrap. Chill for 24 to 36 hours before baking. (Dough balls may be frozen after the chilling. Place the still-wrapped baking sheet of cookie balls in the freezer. Write baking instructions on a sealable plastic freezer bag. When frozen, put dough in marked bag.)

When ready to bake, line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat and place dough balls about 2 inches apart.

If frozen, allow to thaw on baking sheet while preheating oven to 350 degrees.

Bake until golden brown but still soft, 10 to 12 minutes. They will puff then sink a bit. They should seem slightly underdone. Sprinkle with salt. Eat warm.

Variation: Swap some of the chips for coarsely chopped pecans or other nuts. Maybe even some coconut.