Chocolate chip cookies. You love them, I love them, and we can all agree that anyone who doesn’t love them is not to be trusted. Unlike other desserts, though, there hasn’t been a lot of notable innovation in chocolate chip cookie baking. As a kid I used to make the standard Toll House recipe fairly often, but it was generally just a ruse so that my brothers and I could eat massive amounts of raw cookie dough. I thought about it recently, and decided that the Toll House recipe can’t be the final word. With so many amateur home cooks and their delicious baking blogs, and with foodie reinterpretations of comfort food at an all-time high, I figured somebody must have taken the time to update that old chestnut.
After some dutiful googling, I discovered that there are a handful of new recommendations to improve chocolate chip cookies. Basically, they are:
- Melt the butter. Melt it carefully on a double-boiler and let it cool before combining it with the white and brown sugars. Toll House et al. always said to simply “cream” softened/room temperature butter with the sugar, but melting it makes for a smoother butter-sugar end product. Which, let’s be candid, is delicious in and of itself.
- Double, triple, or quadruple the amount of vanilla. Not one teaspoon. More like one tablespoon. And of course, I don’t even need to stress the importance of using real vanilla and not “imitation” extract, right?
- Refrigerate the dough overnight, anywhere from 12 to 36 hours depending on your baking schedule. I don’t know why this is assumed to help, but I tried it anyway and refrigerated my dough for about 24 hours. Note that this makes it much harder to work with the dough before baking, so you may want to consider rolling the dough into balls and then refrigerating them.
- Sprinkle sea salt on top before baking. This is another example of the saltification of desserts that’s all the rage.
I tried all of these tips, and added one of my own, by readjusting the white-to-brown sugar ratio from 1:1 to one-half cup granulated sugar and 1 cup light brown sugar. This makes the cookies a little bit darker, but richer.
Verdict? Success. These were definitely better than your everyday Toll House-recipe cookies. Despite using the same amount of butter (1 c.) as a normal recipe, these tasted very buttery – I credit melting the butter. The best ever, though? I don’t know. They still flattened out a bit too much for my liking – any ideas on how to minimize that?
And the key takeaway is that no matter what recipe you use, chocolate chip cookies, like most baked goods, taste best when eaten warm out of the oven.
Recipe below the jump. Add your tips in comments.
- 1 c. (2 sticks) unsalted butter
- 1 c. firmly packed light brown sugar
- ½ c. granulated sugar
- 1 T. real vanilla extract
- 1 egg
- 1 egg yolk
- 2 c. all-purpose flour
- 1 t. baking soda
- 1 t. salt
- Chocolate chips to taste – I used an entire bag and think that’s pushing it too far. Consider ¾ of a normal-sized bag of chips.
- Melt butter on a double-boiler and set aside to cool briefly. Once cool, combine butter with the brown and white sugar and beat until smooth. Add vanilla, then stir in the eggs one at a time.
- In a small bowl, sift flour, salt and baking soda together. Or, if you are like me and don’t own a sifter, combine in a bowl and stir with a fork. Slowly add the flour mixture to the egg-sugar-butter mixture, stirring in just a bit at a time until all of the flour mixture has been integrated into the dough. Add the chocolate chips.
- Roll dough into cookie-sized balls, cover in plastic wrap, and refrigerate for 12-36 hours.
- When it comes time to bake, preheat oven to 350-degrees. (You know your oven better than I do; adjust accordingly). Line cookie sheets with foil and make sure the cookie dough balls have plenty of space in between them. Sprinkle with sea salt. Bake for 10-12 minutes (again, keep an eye on them and adjust time accordingly). When done, remove from oven and transfer cookies to wire racks to cool.
- Pour a glass of milk. Enjoy your milk and cookies. Contemplate how much happiness has been distilled into this one brief, fleeting moment.