Saturday, February 14, 2009

The Best Chococolate Chip Cookie

I know what most people think about on Valentine’s Day. I think about chocolate chip cookies, all warm and gooey, warm from the oven. It was love at first bite. My grandmother use to bring them every time she came to visit. My mother didn’t made cookies—much too tedious—and only bought Chips Ahoy (which I ate).
The chocolate chip cookie was result of the most serendipitous and profitable culinary accident in history. Actually, laziness was at the root of its origins. In 1930, Ruth Wakefield and her husband had purchased a restaurant located in a circa 1709 Massachusetts toll house. Ruth was committed to serving traditional New England meals but got tired of grinding up chocolate bars to make “Butter Drop Do” cookies. So she decided to chop the chocolate instead, assuming it would melt during baking. Obviously, it didn’t and the Toll House cookie was born and it was an instant hit.
Ruth approached Nestlés and they came to an agreement: They got to print the recipe on their packages and she got a lifetime supply of their chocolate. The sales of Nestlés semisweet chocolate skyrocketed and the company started including a small chopper with each bar. In 1939 they introduced small pieces of chocolate dubbed morsels which the public embraced as chocikate chips.

From the beginning, everyone has been trying to improve on the chocolate chip cookie. Probably the first e-mail hoax I ever received was in 1994. It was reputedly a recipe for chocolate chip cookies from Neiman Marcus for which a customer had unwittingly paid $250. Ironically, Neiman Marcus didn’t even make chocolate cookies at that time. (They do now!) The recipe is okay, but they’re not my favorite—the secret is a ground up Hershey bar.
Admittedly, everyone has his or her own idea about the perfect chocolate chip cookie. Recipes that call for a larger proportion of butter to flour produce thin, lumpy cookie and those with more flour produce a more cakelike cookie. If you like your cookies soft and chewy, bake them for a shorter period of time. If you like them crisp, obviously the converse applies. Always bake your cooked on thin, bright metal cookie sheets lined with baking parchment—if use dark metal/coated pans you’ll need to reduce the baking temperature.
The longer you leave the cookies on the baking sheets after taking them out of oven and transferring to cooling racks, the crisper the bottoms will be. If you prefer a very firm cookie substitute ½ cup semolina for an equal amount of flour.

Always chill the dough for about an hour before baking—it will give them a nicer shape.
Regardless of your favorite, the best are always homemade. Here is my favorite recipe for chocolate chip cookies.

Best Chocolate Chip Cookie

2½ cups all-purpose unbleached flour 1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup dark brown sugar, firmly packed
½ cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped pecans, lightly toasted (optional)

Preheat oven 325 degrees.

Combine the flour, soda and salt in a bowl and whisk to combine. Set aside.

Cream the butter, brown sugar and sugar with an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, blending well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla to combine.

Using the mixer at low speed, gradually blend in the dry ingredients. Using a rubber spatula, fold in the chocolate chips and pecans (if used) until well combined.

Drop golf ball-size balls of dough two inches apart onto baking sheets lined with baking parchment.

Bake for 16 to 19 minutes or until golden brown. Let stand for a minute or so, then remove to a wire rack and cool.

Makes approximately 24 4-inch cookies

Okay, so you don’t have time to make chocolate chip cookies but gotta have one right now. Some of my favorite store-bought options are no longer with us, but here are the Best of Madison already baked chocolate chip cookies.



The Natural (La Campagne Bakery), Meqon



Marcia said...

the image posted of the chocolate chip cookie is the exclusive property of, remove, it is not your image and you do not have my permission to post it.

Scott said...

I'm curious how someone scans the internet to find their cookie photos. Perhaps you could have asked Dan to link to your website. Now you just look bitter.

Anonymous said...
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Anonymous said...

I think the nice part of chocolate chip cookies is that you might prepare in so many different ways without repeating any of them. Hahaha, We should make a whole post about different recipes of the same plate.
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