Do 2 things differently and these will be the only chocolate chip cookies you’ll ever need again.
THE RAMBLE: Winner for Team Spain!
LET’S TALK ABOUT American treats. They’re typically way too sugary and way too greasy. I don’t even really care for cookies, and really, most desserts or treats. I grew up eating wheat-free (gluten-free) and so we made all our desserts with oat flour. It is dense and does not rise, but we still loved the treats my creative mom came up with (oh yeah, and we were corn, dairy-free and vegan, too.). So, I baked with oat flour and applesauce growing up, but once getting married and wanting to learn how to make “normal” things, I was cursed. Nothing would turn out right (yeah, don’t start baking from Pintrest recipes…most are terrible as you probably know). However, once I got my hands on America’s Test Kitchen Cookbook, my baking life changed, and I finally had tried-and-true recipes from professionals that are cooking from a scientific level and have already fail-proofed and tested most possible outcomes of stupid people trying to make things, like myself. JUST what I needed! Now, I have made all kinds of bakery sweets and treats, from mousse to cake to bread to muffins to these perfect cookies. Now we have an American treat I actually like, and one we can add to our western world recipes!
LET’S TALK ABOUT this recipe. Why would anyone stray from the Nestle Tollhouse CC Cookie recipe? Well, that is a great one, and my husband’s family has that recipe down and makes a killer cookie. This recipe does two things differently: They BROWN the butter (WHAT? Not softened?) and use dark brown sugar. With these two changes, creaming is different, more flavor is developed, less sugar is required, making them not toothache-sweet, and the butter changes so it doesn’t leave the cookies oily. Finally a cookie I can enjoy eating without regret the moment after I finish it. Ok, my changes. I get the butter pretty dark. Once the little milk solid bits in the bottom are almost black, I take it off. You can brown it as light or dark as you want, but I like it pretty dark. They call for a non-stick silver skillet to brown the butter to make it easier to see and brown quicker, but I usually just end up using a common, dark sauce pan, and I just swirl it around the see the color and that has worked fine for me (just watch it closely!). The recipe also says to make this into 16 large cookies of about 3 TBS of dough. My scale’s battery is dead, or I would just measure each portion into an equal ball, so I just use a 2 TBS cookie scoop instead, and that is much faster and makes more, but a bit smaller, cookies. I also like to cover with plastic wrap and chill the dough, even overnight is great for when I have guests the next day. The dough does bake really well when chilled, but it’s not necessary. If you’re also out of dark brown sugar, light will work just fine, just not as deep of flavor.
America’s Test Kitchen tests everything, and that is one of the big reasons to get their books. They found the best choice for chocolate chips is Ghirardelli 60% Cocoa Bittersweet Chocolate Chips because: intense, complex flavor compared to other brands, low sugar content makes a better chocolate flavor, high amount of cocoa butter makes a creamier (not gritty/grainy) chip, wider shape helps melt chip faster. So, there you go. Again, just buy this dang book! Your life will change. 1100+ recipes for 24 freaking dollars: America’s Test Kitchen Cookbook.
WHO YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT making great sweets: Cook’s Country, America’s Test Kitchen and Milk Street Kitchen @testkitchen, Julia Baker of Cooking Channel’s Sweet Julia @JuliaBaker, Christina Tosi @ChristinaTosi of Momofuku Milk Bar, Chef Elizabeth Falkner @cheffalkner of (former) Citizen Cake and cookbook Demolition Desserts: Recipes from Citizen Cake
America’s Test Kitchen Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from The Complete America’s Test Kitchen TV Show Cookbook 2001-2015, makes about 25 cookies, about 45 mins-1 hr to make, medium amount of fuss.
1 3/4 cup (8 3/4 oz) AP flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
14 TBS (1 3/4 sticks) unsalted butter, divided
3/4 cup packed (5 1/4 oz) dark brown sugar (make sure it’s moist, not dried out)
1/2 cup (3 1/2 oz) granulated sugar
1 tsp table or kosher-grain salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 large whole egg
1 large egg yolk
1 1/4 cup (7 1/2 oz) semisweet chocolate chips (i.e. Ghirardelli 60%)
3/4 chopped walnuts or pecans, toasted (optional)
- Adjust baking rack to middle slot and heat oven to 375 degrees F. Prepare your baking sheet(s) by spraying with cooking spray and lining with parchment paper. Set aside.
- In a medium size bowl, whisk flour and baking soda together, set aside.
- Divide 10 TBS of butter and heat in a medium saucepan or 10-inch skillet or over medium-migh heat until melted, about 2 minutes. While continuing cooking, swirl the pan to keep butter moving constantly until butter is dark brown, the bits in the bottom are dark brown and smells nutty, 1-3 minutes. Then transfer this hot butter to a large, heat-proof bowl. Add the remaining 4 TBS butter and stir until it is melted, has stopped bubbling, and homogenous.
- Add sugars, salt, and vanilla to the melted butter. Whisk until all the ingredients are fully incorporated, then add egg and egg yolk, and whisk everything together until there are no sugar lumps and the mixture is smooth, about 30 seconds.
- Now, let the mixture rest for 3 minutes, whisk for 30 seconds, and repeat this step 2 more times (so it rests for a total of 9 minutes all together, just broken up). This mixture will thicken and become smooth and shiny.
- Add the flour mixture to this butter mixture with a rubber spatula and stir together until just combined, about 1 minute. Stir in the chips and nuts, make sure no flour pockets remain. (You can rest and chill dough, covered with plastic, or continue to baking.)
- Using a 2 TBS cookie scoop, space cookies 2 inches apart from each other on your sheet, about 9 per common half-baking sheet.
- Bake one sheet at a time (ideal, but I have done 2 just fine), rotating halfway through to ensure even doneness. Cookies should be golden brown, still puffy, edges have begin to set and are firm but the centers are still soft, 8-10 minutes. Transfer baking sheet to a wire rack to cool for 5 minutes, then transfer cookies to the wire rack and cool to room temperature (ideal). Repeat steps 7-8 with remaining dough.