Tuesday, 21 June 2011

In Search of THE ULTIMATE Chocolate Chip Cookie

I recently found an article entitled: Perfection? Hint: It's Warm and Has a Secret  on the New York Times website, but through someone else's blog (apologies, I can't for the life of me remember which one...). It's all about 'the quest for the perfect chocolate chip cookie', and who am I to ignore a call to be part of just such a quest?

The main things I got from the article is that chilling cookie dough for 36 HOURS - yes, I know, a painfully long time - and using good quality chocolate of 60-80% cocoa solids gives the best chocolate chip cookies. Beautifully crisp and crunchy on the outside but deliciously soft on the inside, with hints of toffee.

I just baked a few after 24 hours of chilling, and there is only one word that can describe these 5-inch diameter babies: Heaven. 

Pure, absolute, unadulterated heaven. 

My parents will testify that I temporarily lost the ability to speak while eating my cookie straight from the oven. But I have to confess, I do feel mildly ill after consuming it so quickly. So worth it though.

I just used the Nestle Original Toll House Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe, except I left out the nuts. By all means chuck in a cup of nuts if you like though.

2 1/4 cups flour
1tsp baking soda
1tsp salt
1 cup butter
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 packed cup light brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract (I always like to add a little extra though(
2 large eggs
2 cups (approx 350g) dark chocolate chips, chunks, fèves or slices.
First, sift together the flour, salt and baking soda into a small bowl. Set aside.
Cream the butter until very pale and fluffy, approx two minutes. 
Add in both sugars and cream until thoroughly incorporated and your mixture is light, and still fluffy. 
Then beat in the vanilla and eggs.
Add in the dry ingredients in 3 or 4 stages, beating after each addition until the ingredients are just incorporated. 
Finally, stir in the chocolate. If using fèves be careful not to break them up.

Split the dough in half and wrap each segment in greaseproof/waxed/parchment paper. This is quite a soft and sticky dough so if you use clingfilm then lots of your mixture will stick to that, which means less for the cookies, and therefore less for you. Not ideal. 

Refrigerate the dough for 24-36 hours. I'll let you know how the cookies chilled for 36 hours are. (And I've just realised, that'll be breakfast time for me! Excellent.) The dough can be kept for up to 72 hours in the fridge, but if you can hold out baking them for that long I will be truly amazed.

Preheat your oven to 190C/375F
Line a baking / cookie tray with a piece of parchment paper.
Form large balls of cookie dough (about a heaped serving spoon will do nicely) and press down on them slightly.
Place each dough ball a good 4-5 inches apart as these cookies will spread out quite a lot and you probably don't want them to merge into one giant cookie. 

Bake for anywhere between 15-18 minutes. You're looking for them to have spread out really well, started going gloriously crispy and a deep caramel colour around the edge, but still soft and almost doughy on the inside. 

They may not look done when cooking time is up, but they will be. Don't forget they firm up once out of the oven. When you've removed them from the oven, leave on the cookie tray for 5-7minutes, then transfer to a wire rack for another ten. 

And then, as the NYT recipe says,

 Eat warm, with a big napkin.

So, to summarise. Tips to baking the ultimate chocolate chip cookies.

1) Chill for 24-36 hours!
2) Use good quality chocolate, 60% cocoa solids as an absolute minimum
3) A lot of bakers use a 40:60 ratio of chocolate to dough
4) Using fèves (or slices) instead of chips means that you end up with layers of dough and chocolate in every bite
5) Sprinkling a little salt on the cookies just before you bake them adds a "distinctive dimention" (to quote the NYT) to the cookies. Good quality Maldon sea salt or something similar is best here.
6) Finally, make your cookies LARGE. With a 5 or 6 inch diameter cookie you have the gorgeous crispy outside; a chewy, melting centre; and the delightful crossover between the two textures and tastes in the rest of the cookie.

These truly are to die for.

P.S. Sorry about the weird spacing and changes in colours. At the moment I don't have a clue why it's doing that, but I'll sort it as soon asap.

1 comment:

  1. ask your mom about our chocolate chip cookie disaster ;)


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