A few years ago the New York Times ran an article about the perfect chocolate chip cookie. That article and its accompanying recipe have become the most popular chocolate chip cookie on the internet. One bite – no kidding -- one amazing bite of this cookie will change forever the way you make chocolate chip cookies.
Since the first chocolate chip cookie was baked in the 1930s by Ruth Graves Wakefield at the Toll House Inn in Whitmann, Massachusetts, home and professional bakers have been trying to perfect it. We know that all chocolate chip cookies are not created equal, but what is it that makes some so much better than the others?
When you bite into this cookie, you realize what may be missing in other cookies. The perfect cookie has a very slight crunch when first bitten, then is filled with a soft, moist cookie inside. As you get closer to the middle, the richness of it is remarkable.
The recipe for the perfect chocolate chip cookie uses some of the same ingredients most people use in their own cookies. Some of the ingredients are a bit different, however, and one will totally surprise you. Take a look:
Here are some of the different ingredients:
- Flour: This recipe calls for both cake flour and bread flour. Cake flour is made from the softer part of the wheat and is bleached to break down the proteins – using this flour results in a delicate texture and tender crumb (think delicate, tender cakes). Bread flour is very high in protein which makes a stronger flour allowing for dough to rise (think of chewy, crusty breads).
- Chocolate: If you want to make the best chocolate chip cookies, use the best chocolate you can find. Ghirardelli makes a chocolate chip that is available in most larger grocery; Ghirardelli’s bittersweet chocolate chips have 60% cacao content. However, if you prefer semi-sweet or milk chocolate, Ghirardelli makes those as well.
- Course sea salt: This is salt extracted from salt water instead of the finely-grained table salt which comes from mines. The courser grains of sea salt provide a distinct flavor. This is used both in the cookie and sprinkled on top prior to baking – yes, you read it right!
- Unsalted butter: Salt is added to butter as a preservative. Some bakers prefer to use unsalted butter so they can control the amount of salt in a recipe. Remember, however, that unsalted butter does not last as long. If you don’t use it often, keep it in the freezer. If you choose to use salted butter (and using real butter is essential!) leave out the salt added to the cookie batter itself, but still sprinkle it lightly on the top of each cookie prior to baking.
Now for the matter of how to bake the cookies – and this is as important as the ingredients. Professional bakers prefer to cover and refrigerate cookie dough for 24 – 36 hours prior to using it for baking – this allows the ingredients to meld together and makes a remarkable difference in the texture and taste. They also will bake the cookies in small batches so that only freshly baked cookies are served. You can keep your dough in the refrigerator for up to 72 hours -- this allows you to bake only a few cookies each day so you can enjoy them warm and fresh.
The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe
Ingredients for the Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie:
- 2 cups minus 2 tablespoons cake flour
- 1 2/3 cup bread flour
- 1 ¼ tsp. baking soda
- 1 ½ tsp. baking powder
- 1 ½ tsp. coarse salt
- 1 ¼ cups unsalted butter (if you use salted butter, skip the 1 ½ tsp. salt added to the dough)
- 1 ¼ cup brown sugar
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons white sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 2 tsp. vanilla
- 1 ¼ pounds chocolate pieces (if you prefer less chocolate, use just one bag of chocolate pieces)
- Course sea salt (this is important)
Directions for making the Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies:
Sift the flours, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a bowl. Set aside.
Using a mixer with a paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars together until very light – about 5 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. Reduce speed to low, add the dry ingredients and mix until just combined – 5 to 10 seconds. Drop the chocolate pieces in and stir to incorporate them. Press plastic wrap against the dough and refrigerate for 24 – 36 hours. Dough should be used in batches and can be refrigerated for up to 72 hours.
When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat.
Scoop mounds of dough the size of generous golf balls onto the baking sheet. Sprinkle each mound lightly with course sea salt and bake until golden brown but still soft – 10 to 12 minutes (check after 10 to make sure they don’t over bake).
Remove from oven; leave the cookies on the baking sheet for 10 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to continue cooling. Eat warm with a big napkin.
(From the New York Times, adapted by Jacques Torres)
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