Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate Chip Cookies  | Image:  Laura Messersmith

Chocolate Chip Cookies | Image: Laura Messersmith

Calling the chocolate chip cookie the all-time best cookie ever is still probably an understatement of its greatness. Nothing conjures more images of wholesome, homemade comfort than a warm tray of chocolate chip cookies and a glass of cold milk frosted with condensation. And just consider how sad it is when you realize you’ve picked up an oatmeal raisin masquerading as chocolate chip from the platter. Dagger, right? Instant disappointment.

We have Ruth Graves Wakefield, inventor of the Toll House Cookie, to thank for the afternoon snack that launched 1,000 half-hour family sitcom clichés. It’s the recipe I’ve been faithfully making for decades with little variation, other than a dash more vanilla here or a handful of dried cranberries there. It’s been my constant companion, a guaranteed crowd pleaser, never a crumb left on the plate. Why mess with a good thing?

And now I have a confession to make… thanks to the experimentation and inventiveness of Tara O’Brady, author of the blog and now cookbook Seven Spoons, I might have a new favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe. Don’t hate me, Ruth!

The Seven Spoons recipe clearly descends from the original with a few small changes like chocolate chunks and sea salt. While normally, the thought of having to chop a block of chocolate would seem like too much work, I was won over by the delicious realization that the cookies would have both big piece of chocolate in them and the small shavings too. Also it makes your kitchen smell like chocolate. Worth the effort in my book.

Sea salt window dressing aside, Tara’s true genius is in adjusting the proportions to solve the number one problem I consistently have when making classic chocolate chip cookies: softened butter. The original Toll House recipe relies on butter warm enough to mix easily, but not fully melted. Unfortunately, I always forget to take the butter out of the refrigerator and even the most careful microwaving fails to produce the same texture.

Cue choirs of angels when I realized that you and I no longer have to plan our cookie making a day in advance thanks to Ms. O’Brady and her wonderful recipe. Because one never knows when a cookie emergency will strike!

Chocolate Chip Cookies   | Image:   Laura Messersmith

Chocolate Chip Cookies | Image: Laura Messersmith

Basic, Great Chocolate Chip Cookies (yield: 28 cookies)

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, diced
3 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3/4 pound (12 ounces) semi or bittersweet chocolate, chopped
Flaky sea salt, to finish

Preheat the oven to 360 degrees F (not a typo). Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

Melt the diced butter in a heavy bottomed saucepan over very low heat, stirring occasionally. Take care that the butter does not sizzle or bubble so that it retains its moisture.

While the butter is melting, chop the block of chocolate with a large chef’s knife into pieces - think somewhere in the ballpark of a sugar cube.

In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and kosher salt.

Pour the melted butter into a second medium mixing and whisk in the light brown sugar and granulated sugar until smooth. Add the eggs, one at a time, whisking until just combined. Stir in the vanilla.

Use a wooden spoon or silicone spatula to stir in the dry ingredients until barely blended. When things are still looking a bit floury, stir in the chocolate (pieces, shavings and all) until all of the ingredients are just combined.

Chill the mixed dough in the refrigerator for 5 minutes before rolling into balls, about 2 tablespoons each. Arrange on the prepared baking sheets leaving a generous amount of space (2-3 inches) between them to allow the cookies to spread. Sprinkle each cookie with a pinch of sea salt.

Ideally, bake each pan individually at 360 degrees until the tops are cracked and lightly golden, about 10-12 minutes, rotating the pan halfway through. If time is of the essence, trade the pans halfway through the cooking time and rotate for evenness. Cool on the pan for 2 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

Very slightly re-written and adapted from Basic, Great Chocolate Chip Cookies from Seven Spoons by Tara O’Brady.

Chocolate Chip Cookies   | Image:   Laura Messersmith

Chocolate Chip Cookies | Image: Laura Messersmith

Small Kitchen Friendly?
Totally. I used two medium mixing bowls, a small sauce pan, two baking sheets, a wire rack, a medium cutting board, and a chef’s knife. I also needed measuring cups, measuring spoons, a rubber spatula, wire whisk, a 1 tablespoon sized cookie scoop, and parchment paper.

The Verdict:
The higher percentage of light brown sugar adds a caramel scented depth to the cookie dough that I absolutely looove. Finding a giant chunk of semi-sweet chocolate buried in the center doesn’t hurt either. These cookies manage to seamlessly evoke the classic back-of-the-package version, while the sprinkle of sea salt brings them into the modern age and makes them elegant enough for even the most jaded grown-up. The ability to make these cookies at a moment’s notice just seals the deal.

Chocolate Chip Cookies   | Image:   Laura Messersmith

Chocolate Chip Cookies | Image: Laura Messersmith