Having a really good cookie recipe on hand has always been a simple goal of mine. Yet I have to admit always been a little bit intimidated by baking because the results are so much more confined by what we know from the best of an eating life: a moist slice of layer cake, the flaky and buttery croissant, a fudge brownie, the perfect chewy chocolate chip cookie.That kind of perfection in a bite is daunting. It’s so much easier for me to fake my way into cooking with free form recipes, building flavors as I learn to master cooking profiles but covering my mistakes as I go. But baking, it’s one miss and you’re out, left with a pan of a buttery mess. (Yes, I will still eat that mess with ice cream but it’s not the same thing as a good end result.)
Finally though I discovered Baking Illustrated by the editors of Cook’s Illustrated. This new cookbook acquisition has quickly replaced the baking sections of my other beloved cookbooks. I’ve already mastered a great pastry crust, the small tweaks easily making it my favorite for both savory or sweet pies. And now just this past snowy Thursday afternoon, we made the Baking Illustrated simple Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies recipe; I’m still astounded by how consistently great those cookies turned out to be.
The recipe surprised me in two ways: First, the melting of butter, which makes the cookies softer for longer. Second, the technique to break the rounded quarter cup of cookie dough into two pieces and then placing the roughed edges up, smoothing the pieces back together on the sides. The result from this technique creates the most pleasing looking cookie top.
Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from Baking Illustrated
2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cool until just warm
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg plus one 1 egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1-1 1/2 cups baking chocolate, chopped into rough pieces by hand. I use Ghiradelli dark.
1. Preheat the oven to 325. Put the racks on the upper and lower middle positions. Line two baking sheets with slipats or parchment paper.
2. Sift flour, baking soda, and salt together in a bowl. Set aside for now.
3. With an electric mixer, combine butter and sugars until combined. Beat in the egg, yolk, and vanilla. Add the dry to the wet ingredients, beating at a low speed until just combined. Stir in the chocolate.
4. Roll a scant 1/4 cup of cookie dough into a ball with your hands. Grip by the sides and pull horizontally. Put the rough, pulled apart sides up, rotating 90 degrees. Bring the dough ball back together, pressing the sides gently but keeping the top rough sides untouched. Place on cookie sheets 2 inches apart with rough part facing up.
5. Bake until the cookies are a light golden, with the edges hardening but the insides still soft, about 15-18 minutes, rotating the pans from top to bottom halfway through the cooking time. Cool on the cookie sheets.