Chocolate chips cookies. One of the most loved cookies of our time and a good old fashioned favourite. However given its simplicity in ingredients, how can it be that one simple biscuit could cause me so much grief?
A few years ago I was content with using any chocolate chip cookie recipe and as long as they didn’t burn I was satisfied. As I continued to bake I became more interested in finding the best chocolate chip cookie recipe, one that not only produced a cookie with crisp edges but also a soft centre, one that was not cake like but slightly chewy. Most of all I didn’t want a flat cookie that spread to a undesirable pancake.
After searching various cook books and baking blogs, I decided to try the Nestle Toll House recipe, you know, the one that is on the back of the packet of Nestle Toll House choc chips. The recipe is devised by Ms Ruth Wakefield who accidently created the chocolate chip recipe. She is considered a somewhat heroine in the baking world. Being the recipe that invented the chocolate chip cookie I figured it would produce some pretty awesome cookies (I should also sheepishly insert here that after watching a Friends episode where Phoebe admits that her Grandmother’s secret choc chip cookie recipe that produces the best cookies is actually the Nestle Toll House recipe, I was further convinced!)
I continued to use this recipe for a few years, learning along the way little tips and ticks to make the cookies stop spreading and ending up flat, such as chilling the dough in the fridge before baking and making sure your cookie trays are cold. However I found that despite my best efforts, I would still end up with flat cookies.
I then searched for the reasons why this occurred. There is in fact a science to all that sugar, butter and flour and after reading countless articles on the art of baking cookies, I discovered that the New York Times had the same issues as me a few years ago and David Leite set out on the quest to find the prefect chocolate chip cookie. He ended up publishing this article, which explains the science of producing the prefect chocolate chip cookie and after conducting his investigation, he formulating what has been regarded as the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe. The article is a very interesting read and explains that using both bread and cake flour plays a very important role in producing cookies that are not flat as does letting the dough rest for at least 36 hours. Further, this resting time allows the flavours of the cookie to develop giving you a richer, tastier and all round more delicious cookie. The type of chocolate used is also important, plain old choc chips won’t suffice (sorry Nestle). Instead, disc of coventure chocolate are used as they melt beautifully to produce a rich, gooey chocolate cookie. The balls of dough also need to weight to at least about 100g (3.5 ounces) in order to produce a cookie that is about 12 cm (5 inches) big. This way you can experience all the textures of the cookie that this recipe produced. That is a crisp outside, soft centre and the one and half inch ring in the centre where the two textures meet (told you it was scientific!).
The recipe also calls for a sprinkling of sea salt on top of the dough before it is baked which can transform the cookie as the tastes of saltiness beings out the caramel flavour. In How Baking Works: Exploring the Fundamentals of Baking Science, Paula Figoni explains that salt changes the rate aroma molecules evaporate, resulting in a longer lasting flavor. Apparently salt in baked goods is all the rage now.
Anyway enough of the science, the main things you need to know is that these are by far the BEST chocolate chip cookies that have even passed my lips. They are beyond delicious. Eaten fresh the day they are made you will understand that the 36 hour wait is defiantly worth it. The chocolate is still melted and gooey and they have the most delicious toffee/caramel flavour. Crispy on the outside but soft in the centre, they are cookie perfection.
As the recipe requires the resting time, it does take some planning ahead. You may be tempted to bake the cookie dough straight away. Doing so will still produce a nice cookie, but to really experiment the New York Times wonder, rest the dough for at least 36 hours. It can be left in the fridge for up to 72 hours (if it lasts that long) and it also freezes well for 3 months ( ask Alex, his freezer is now full of glad bags contaninig carefully meaured balls of cookie dough, ready to pop right in the oven.)
I’m so glad that I finally had the chance to try these cookies. I declare this my go to recipe and with all due respect to Ms Wakefield, I will never look at the back of another packet of nestle choc chips again.
- 2 cups minus 2 tablespoons(8½ ounces) cake flour
- 1⅔ cups (8½ ounces) bread flour
- 1¼ teaspoons baking soda
- 1½ teaspoons baking powder
- 1½ teaspoons coarse salt
- 2½ sticks (1¼ cups) unsalted butter
- 1¼ cups (10 ounces) light brown sugar
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (8 ounces) granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract
- 1¼ pounds bittersweet chocolate disks, at least 60 percent cocoa content
- Sea salt.
- Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Set aside.
- Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars together until very light, about 5 minutes.
- Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. Reduce speed to low, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds.
- Drop chocolate pieces in and incorporate them without breaking them.
- Press plastic wrap against dough and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours. Dough may be used in batches, and can be refrigerated for up to 72 hours.
- When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees (170 degrees Celsius).
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Set aside.
- Scoop 6 3½-ounce mounds of dough (the size of generous golf balls) onto baking sheet, making sure to turn horizontally any chocolate pieces that are poking up; it will make for a more attractive cookie.
- Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and bake until golden brown but still soft, 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer sheet to a wire rack for 10 minutes, then slip cookies onto another rack to cool a bit more.
- Repeat with remaining dough, or reserve dough, refrigerated, for baking remaining batches the next day.
- Eat warm.
- Yield: 18 5-inch cookies.