If you’re at all familiar with my blog, you must have known that I would be all over Cooks Illustrated’s new chocolate chip cookie recipe. Not because it might become my new favorite – I knew beforehand that it wouldn’t. The thing is, I’m a major cookie dough eater. To me, the baked cookies are just a bonus dessert; the dough is the reason I make chocolate chip cookies. And I don’t like dough made with melted butter.
No, the real reason I wanted to try this recipe is because it has some interesting tricks in it, and I thought I might learn something. First, a portion of the butter is browned. Then the sugar is mixed into the melted butter and left to set for 10 minutes, which apparently dissolves the sugars and gives them more opportunity to caramelize in the oven.
It also makes the recipe very easy – you just melt the butter, whisk in a few more ingredients, let it set, then stir in the remaining ingredients. Divide the dough into 16 portions and bake.
Here are, for me, the things the recipe has against it. 1) The dough has a greasy texture from the melted butter. 2) It uses portions of eggs. This is a pet peeve of mine, because I hate having containers of egg parts in my freezer or refrigerator. For something I make as often as chocolate chip cookies, I’d rather use whole eggs. 3) It doesn’t use a stand mixer. Dude, stand mixers are fun. That’s why everyone these days has one.
You may have noticed that none of my complaints take issue with the outcome of the baked cookie? That’s because the cookies were really good. This wasn’t a side-by-side comparison, so it’s hard for me to say exactly where they stand in my chocolate chip cookie rating, but they’re certainly in the upper echelon of chocolate chip cookies. So if you’re normal, and all you want out of your chocolate chip cookie recipe is really good cookies without a lot of effort, then definitely check this recipe out. It’s certainly up there with Alton Brown’s popular The Chewy and the NY Times recipe.
Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies (from Cook’s Illustrated May/June 2009)
Note from Bridget: The recipe makes large cookies in an effort to maximize the difference in texture between the crisp exterior and the tender center. However, I prefer small cookies. I tried baking both sizes, and preferred the texture of the smaller cookies anyway. They still had a great mix of textures. If you do this, you’ll want to reduce the baking time to 7-9 minutes.
1¾ cups (8¾ ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
14 tablespoons (1¾ sticks) unsalted butter
½ cup (3½ ounces) granulated sugar
¾ cup (5¼ ounces) packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon table salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1¼ cups semisweet chocolate chips or chunks
¾ cup chopped pecans or walnuts, toasted (optional)
1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk flour and baking soda together in medium bowl; set aside.
2. Heat 10 tablespoons butter in 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat until melted, about 2 minutes. Continue cooking, swirling pan constantly until butter is dark golden brown and has nutty aroma, 1 to 3 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and, using heatproof spatula, transfer browned butter to large heatproof bowl. Stir remaining 4 tablespoons butter into hot butter until completely melted.
3. Add both sugars, salt and vanilla to bowl with butter and whisk until fully incorporated. Add egg and yolk and whisk until mixture is smooth with no sugar lumps remaining, about 30 seconds. Let mixture stand for 3 minutes, then whish for 30 seconds. Repeat process of resting and whisking 2 more times until mixture is thick, smooth and shiny. Using rubber spatula or wooden spoon, stir in flour mixture until just combined, about 1 minute. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts (if using), giving dough final stir to ensure no flour pockets remain.
4. Divide dough into 16 portions, each about 3 tablespoons (or use a #24 cookie scoop). Arrange 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets, 8 dough balls per sheet.
5. Bake cookies 1 tray at a time until cookies are golden brown and still puffy, and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft, 10-14 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking. Transfer baking sheet to wire rack; cool cookies completely before serving.