Friday, August 29, 2008

The Ubiquitous Cookies

These cookies are everywhere. It seems like everyone in the food-blog-iverse has tried out these cookies recently, and with good reason. David Leite basically proclaimed them to be THE definitive chocolate chip cookie in The New York Times. That's a pretty big statement. True, he did go through a fair amount of trial and error, research and tasting, and he called in some big star-power to help him out (Jacques Torres, French confectionary god), but that's still a pretty big statement. People everywhere have taken the bait and tried his cookie. Who am I to fight the tide? 
Four things of note in this recipe: It calls for 24-36 hours of chilling time, to allow flavors to develop in the dough. It lists two types of flour, neither of which is all-purpose. It also calls for sea salt to be sprinkled on top of the cookie before baking. As a big fan of sweet/salty combos, I'm fine with that. Lastly, it requires bittersweet chocolate feves to be used. Feves are (expensive) oval disks of high-quality chocolate. They can be difficult to find, and for many, a lot more than you might want to spend to make a cookie. 
I made the dough on a Tuesday afternoon, and decided to do a little research of my own. I would bake off a few cookies after the dough had sat for 3 hours, then a few more 24 hours after that, and the rest after the full 36 hours. I also varied the timing of the salt topping. All in all, I discovered that while delicious soon after making the dough, it does benefit from the chilling time specified in the recipe. The freshly made dough is a little salty, before the sea salt even gets sprinkled on, and the rest time allows that saltiness to disperse and round out the other flavors. I also found that I preferred sprinkling the cookies with sea salt about 3/4 of the way through the cooking process, instead of on the dough before it goes into the oven. 

Conclusions? These are great cookies. They have crisp buttery edges, but maintain a soft chewy center. Hubband thinks they should replace the standard recipe in my repertoire. Mom loves them, including the salt topping, which is a little surprising considering she doesn't eat much salt. And my niece? Well, let's just say these cookies are:

"Blogger tested, niece approved."

Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from The New York Times, David Leite, and Jacques Torres 

The original recipe calls for cake flour and bread flour. I actually had cake flour, but not bread. Bread flour has a higher protein content than all-purpose flour, and thus makes things a little chewier. I think it would be worth trying the bread flour another time, but I didn't feel like making a trip to the store just for that. I used all-purpose instead, and the texture was still very nice. I also didn't want to go looking for chocolate feves, so I used some dark Ghiradelli chips I had on hand. 

8.5 oz cake flour (2 C minus 2 Tb)
8.5 oz all-purpose flour (1 2/3 C)
1 1/4 Tsp baking soda
1 1/2 Tsp baking powder
1 1/2 Tsp kosher salt 
2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
10 oz light brown sugar (1 1/4 C)
8 oz granulated sugar (1 C + 2 Tb)
2 large eggs
2 Tsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/4 lbs dark chocolate chips or chunks

Combine dry ingredients (flours, baking soda, baking powder, and salt) in a bowl, mix, and set aside. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugars together, scraping down the bowl as necessary, until it is lighter in color and fluffy, about 4 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Mix in the vanilla extract. Scrape down the bowl with a spatula, add dry ingredients, and mix on low until just combined. Add the chocolate, and mix just until incorporated. Press plastic wrap on the surface of the dough and refrigerate as long as you can resist the oven's siren call, hopefully 24-36 hours. 
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F, and remove the bowl of dough from the fridge to slightly soften. Line a baking sheet with a silicone mat or some parchment paper. I used an ice cream scoop to portion the dough; mine holds about 2.5 Tb. Scoop 6 balls of dough onto the baking sheet, evenly spacing them. Roll between your hands for a smoother looking cookie. Bake for about 15 minutes, then sprinkle lightly with sea salt and bake for 4 more minutes, or until golden brown but still soft. Let sit on the baking sheet for a few minutes to firm up, then transfer to a wire rack to finish cooling. Repeat with remaining dough. 


Jill said...

I had the pleasure of tasting this creation and it was superb! The salty and sweet combo is just what I needed at 9:00 AM with a cup of coffee :-) Thanks for the treats hubband brought us!

Jude said...

Wow your cookies came out perfect. Brown on the outside and barely set on the inside.