Sunday, December 7, 2008

Give it a Rest

Chocolate chip cookies are probably the #1 reason I learned how to bake. The double whammy of tasty dough and tasty cookies was added incentive. I remember being about 10 years old and making chocolate chip cookie dough (yeah, just the dough) with my childhood friend Kristi. We ate nearly the entire bowl and made ourselves so sick we couldn't eat the dough again for...well, probably only days.

The thing is, even with all the great cookies I love to bake there is something special about chocolate chip cookies. The standby recipe on the bag of Nestle chips is fine, but every few months or years someone tries to make chocolate chip cookies even more perfect than they already are.

This past summer The New York Times had a great piece on the CCC. I'll be honest - I don't read the NYT daily. I read it religiously on Wednesdays though - along with many other daily newspapers - because that is the day the food section runs.

The conclusion they came to - along with using half AP and half cake flour - was to rest the dough overnight. At least 24 hours. They also made large cookies - 3 1/2 ounces - which makes them particularly decadent. Then, they gilded the lily by sprinkling sea salt on the tops of the cookies. Welcome to flavor country.
The beauty of this recipe is that you can make the dough one night and then bake them off the next night. It spreads the work over two nights and you can serve your guests (or yourself) warm cookies out of the oven.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 cups minus 2 tablespoons (8 1/2 ounces) cake flour
1 2/3 cups (8 1/2 ounces) all purpose flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) light brown sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (8 ounces) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract
1 1/4 pounds bittersweet chocolate chips (I like Ghirardelli)

Sea salt (Try Fleur de Sel, you won't regret it)
  1. Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Set aside.

  2. 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.

  3. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Set aside.

  4. Scoop 6 3 1/2-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, with a big napkin.

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