Chocolate Chip Cookies: My Special Recipe
For those of you who don’t know, I make excellent cookies. Here is my step-by-step recipe so that you can enjoy them without me! (Or with me, if you want to share.)
- 8 oz. unsalted butter
- 10 oz. all-purpose flour
- 5 oz. white sugar
- 6 oz. brown sugar
- 2 extra-large cage-free eggs
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons coarse salt
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 12 oz. chocolate chips or chunks
This recipe requires the use of a kitchen scale as opposed to measuring cups to ensure accurate ratios.
1. Bring all cold ingredients to room temperature.
- Room-temperature butter will be soft enough to mix into the dough without breaking into chunks. Room-temperature eggs are slacker than cold eggs, allowing them to take on more air and dissolve the sugar more easil
2. Sift flour with baking soda. This ensures there are no lumps or grit in the flour and that the baking soda is distributed evenly.
- On all-purpose flour: Avoid bleached or enriched flours as they will affect the flavor. Bread flour will develop too much gluten in the mixing process and make your cookies tough.
- On baking soda: Sodium bicarbonate is a powdered chemical compound and leavening agent. It reacts with acidic elements, like sugar, to release carbon dioxide, which will expand the dough and give the cookies their rise and texture.
3. Combine the white sugar with eggs either in a mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer. Using a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, a hand mixer, or a whisk, beat the sugar and the eggs together until the mixture is light yellow and fluffy.
- On room-temperature eggs: As the room-temperature eggs will have helped dissolve the sugar, the lightness of the mixture will create the classic base note of caramel in the finished cookie.
- On mixing devices: A paddle attachment or the beaters on a hand mixer will work sufficient air into the eggs; a whisk attachment will not be able to withstand dough thickened with butter and flour. Thus, if using a stand mixer, use the paddle attachment. Hand-whisking the eggs and sugar will work excellently (despite being quite tiring), but you will have to switch to a spatula once it’s time to mix in the other ingredients.
4. Add brown sugar and soft butter to the eggs and white sugar mixture. Mix well with a mixer or spatula.
- Brown sugar is probably the most iconic ingredient in chocolate chip cookies. It is unrefined or partially refined soft sugar mixed with molasses. In chocolate chip cookies, brown sugar collaborates with the eggs and white sugar to give the cookie its chewy texture.
5. Add the vanilla and the salt.
- This recipe has larger proportions of salt and vanilla than most recipes. The amount of vanilla is important because it amplifies the flavor of the caramelized sugar and the complexity of the chocolate. An ample amount of coarse salt provides a contrast to the sweetness that will allow your palette to appreciate the full flavor profile of the cookie.
6. Add the flour and chocolate. In order to ensure the flour and baking soda mixture is properly integrated into the dough, alternate between adding the flour in three parts and the chocolate in two, starting with one third of the flour, mixing it thoroughly on low speed, and then adding half of the chocolate. Alternate with another third of flour, the rest of the chocolate, and then the final third of flour. Make sure to keep the speed low lest you break your mixer!
- A note on chocolate: Fair trade semi-sweet or dark chocolate is the ideal addition. Guittard chocolate is fair trade and available in most grocery stores. Pre-chipped chocolate is the classic choice, but they can at times (and depending on brand) have a waxy quality because of additions like soy and vanilla. An alternative is to use a block or bar of high-quality fair-trade dark chocolate and chop it yourself with a sturdy chef’s knife. Producing consistently-sized chunks requires a little practice and technique, however; so if you attempt it, you have a ready-made excuse to make multiple batches! Also be sure to weigh your chocolate after chopping it, as some of the chocolate will shave off too finely to be included in the dough.
7. Once the dough is smooth and light-colored with the chips or chunks evenly distributed, cover the bowl or wrap the dough in plastic wrap. Place it in the refrigerator for at least eight hours or overnight.
- On chilling: This will solidify the butter in the dough, ensuring that when you bake the cookies, they will rise and spread evenly, retaining their shape better. Whereas, baking them immediately will result in a thinner, flatter cookie.
- On baking warm dough: Some enjoy a thin chocolate chip cookie as its texture and flavor have more in common with candy or a Florentine (lacey) cookie.
- On the color of the dough: Most recipes, like that on the back of the Nestlé chocolate chip bag, produce dough that is a darker brown than this recipe. This is because they use the creaming method, in which the white sugar and the butter are beaten together until light and fluffy. By mixing the sugar with the eggs and then adding the softened butter instead, the airiness of the dough will result in a lighter color.
8. Once your dough is properly chilled, preheat your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit and arrange a rack in the middle shelf of the oven. This will ensure even baking.
9. Prepare two 18 inch by 13 inch baking pans by lining them with parchment paper or silicone mats, like a Silpat.
- Parchment paper is not waxed. Waxed paper will begin to smoke in the oven.
- Silicone mats are ideal for cookie baking as they are reusable and guaranteed nonstick.
10. Using a cookie or small ice-cream scoop with an approximately 1.5 inch diameter, or a round spoon, place seven smoothly-rounded mounds of dough on one prepared pan.
- On spacing: Start with the pan oriented portrait-style, short end toward you. Place one scoop of dough at the top. Approximately one inch beneath it, place two scoops of dough spaced apart the same distance as they are from the sides of the pan. Beneath them, place a single scoop in the space between them. Alternate this pattern until you have seven mounds of dough arranged on the sheet. This will ensure the cookies bake evenly and consistently. Do not try to force as many cookies as you can on the pan. They will either spread together into one giant cookie (which is admittedly delicious) or they will not spread, transforming into chocolate chip rocks instead.
11. Bake the cookies for 10–15 minutes.
- Always bake one pan at a time in the middle rack. This will ensure even baking.
- Check your cookies after 10 minutes. Ovens do not always display accurate temperatures, nor do they always maintain consistent temperature throughout the baking process. You will likely have to determine baking time based on the eccentricities of your oven.
- Purchasing an oven thermometer will help you determine your oven’s accuracy.
12. When the cookies have spread into handsome circles and taken on a lovely golden-brown color, they are ready. Remove them from the oven and place the pan on a rack or counter to cool slightly before removing them and placing them on a wire rack to cool completely.
- Leave the cookies on the pan for at least five minutes. This will ensure they firm up, as they are quite delicate fresh out of the oven. Attempting to remove them from the pan with a spatula too early will rip the cookies apart. This is why it’s best to alternate between two pans. As you remove one pan, you can insert the other to bake while the first one cools down. You want to avoid placing cold dough on a pan that is very hot as it will melt!
13. Eat cookies!
- Dip in ice cold milk!
- Spread softened ice cream into a small pan, cover with plastic wrap or parchment, and freeze until firm. Using a round cutter a little smaller than the size of your cookies, stamp out circles of ice cream and sandwich between two cookies!