America’s Test Kitchen recently held a blogging contest I intended to participate in. But moving trumped blogging. So while I remembered to make the cookies, I completely forgot to blog about them. But I figured prize or not, I’d go ahead and follow through.
“C is for cookie, thats good enough for me!”
The first thing I noticed when I read over the recipe was 14 tablespoons of butter with a yield of only 16 cookies. That’s almost a tablespoon per cookie, folks. These can’t be bad. The second thing I noticed was browning butter, which I’ve never done. Plus, I’m not much of a baker, so this was bound to be an epic disaster. And why not let my inaugural baking attempt in my new house be epically disasterous? I almost burned my first house down while playing with my fireplace. It was a tradition! At least this time I’d be in the hearth of happiness: my kitchen.
The first thing I did was prep all of my ingredients. I generally do this before making a new dish. But was really diligent this time due to the aforementioned browned butter. Yes, I’m intimidated easily.
Starting in the lower left hand corner and working clockwise we have butter, flour, sugar, brown sugar, egg and egg yolk, baking soda, vanilla and walnuts. And in the center, the star of the show, chocolate chips.
In the words of The Chairman, “Allez cuisine!”
And where do we start, other than with the ingredient that pulls this dish together: butter.
First, cube the butter. Looks pretty, right? I wonder if butter is the reason I want to paint my kitchen yellow? But we mustn’t dwell. Not today. Not on Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie Day!
Then the easy part: Melting. Over medium-high heat.
And finally we’re here. Browning butter. Panic ensues. I don’t have enough butter to recover if I burn. And I don’t want to under-brown, because what’s the point of all the panic if I don’t brown the butter? Oh the plight of the perfectionist. Welcome to my world, friends. What I really needed was a glass of wine. Which I also didn’t have. Glasses or wine. The glasses were packed. The wine was being held hostage at the liquor store, they demanded money.
The butter started popping and making that sound things make when they start to burn. Trust me, I know this sound. I’m not sure if this is expected, but I turned the heat down. This made the browning process take much longer than the prescribed 1-3 minutes. But it did get brown. I finally pulled it when I couldn’t take it anymore.
I gave the butter a quick stir after pouring it into this non-heat proof bowl. Hey, I didn’t have a lot to work with considering everything I owned was packed. The bowl didn’t melt. You can exhale. Then you stir in the brown and white sugars, vanilla and salt. Mix well.
Then Panic: Part Deux sets in. I worry that the hot butter will cook my eggs. Should I be worried about this? I have NO idea. I normally am not astute enough to consider such things. I finally suck it up and stir in my egg and yolk (which I beat together prior to stirring into the caramel mix). And the caramely result was divine looking. I kid you not. Do you not want to get a spoon, scrap the cookie idea, and eat this plain? Because I wanted to. And I shamelessly admit I took a couple of licks. Salmonella be damned!
This is the time-consuming part of the recipe. You stir the caramel mixture for thirty seconds, then let it set for three minutes. Times three. On a normal day I’d probably get bored. But in this case, it gave me the perfect opportunity to find my cookie sheets and cooling rack.
When all of this is done you stir in your flour and baking soda mixture (which you were supposed to whisk together in the beginning, but that’s boring, so I don’t have a picture).
This picture of mixing the caramel with the flour/soda isn’t boring, however. Yum. Someone get some ice cream, let’s make homemade cookie dough ice cream. As you can see, these cookies are delicious at every turn. Another good sign, but I’m starting to grow concerned there won’t be enough for sixteen cookies.
Then stir in the nuts and chocolate chips. I only had diced walnuts. Looking back, I’d follow recommendations of the recipe and use bigger chunks of walnuts (or pecans), but it’s all I had.
OK, seriously, who’s in charge of getting the ice cream? It’s a matter of national security.
Cookie Monster would be proud. They came out of the oven more puffy than I anticipated they would. But before I could even take a picture, they’d flattened down some.
You pull them from the oven just as they start to brown around the edges. Yes, they should look under-done. But you leave them on the pan (and sit the pan on the cooling rack) so they can finish cooking and setup. I was concerned this would result in under-done cooled cookies.
But I was wrong. Perfection! These pictures don’t do the size of the cookies justice. But the Test Kitchen research says the bigger cookies gave a better crunchy to chewy ratio. And who am I to argue with experts?
If you’re looking to impress guests with cookies, these are the way to go. And while I did freak out at various steps along the way, the cookies were actually easy to make, made my house smell like a bakery, and were a crowd pleaser.
Here’s the full recipe. But I suggest you visit their site which gives a lot more background information on how they arrived at the recipe, and view a video on browning butter. I found it all very fascinating!
Now seriously with that ice cream.
Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes 16 cookies
Avoid using a nonstick skillet to brown the butter; the dark color of the nonstick coating makes it difficult to gauge when the butter is browned. Use fresh, moist brown sugar instead of hardened brown sugar, which will make the cookies dry. This recipe works with light brown sugar, but the cookies will be less full-flavored. For our winning brand of chocolate chips, see related tasting.
- 1 3/4 unbleached all-purpose flour (8 3/4 ounces)
- 1/2teaspoon baking soda
- 14 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 3/4 sticks)
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar (3 1/2 ounces)
- 3/4 cups packed dark brown sugar (5 1/4 ounces) (see note)
- 1 teaspoon table salt
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 large egg
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 1/4 cups semisweet chocolate chips or chunks (see note)
- 3/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts, toasted (optional)
- Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 large (18- by 12-inch) baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk flour and baking soda together in medium bowl; set aside.
- Heat 10 tablespoons butter in 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat until melted, about 2 minutes. Continue cooking, swirling pan constantly until butter is dark golden brown and has nutty aroma, 1 to 3 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and, using heatproof spatula, transfer browned butter to large heatproof bowl. Stir remaining 4 tablespoons butter into hot butter until completely melted.
- Add both sugars, salt, and vanilla to bowl with butter and whisk until fully incorporated. Add egg and yolk and whisk until mixture is smooth with no sugar lumps remaining, about 30 seconds. Let mixture stand 3 minutes, then whisk for 30 seconds. Repeat process of resting and whisking 2 more times until mixture is thick, smooth, and shiny. Using rubber spatula or wooden spoon, stir in flour mixture until just combined, about 1 minute. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts (if using), giving dough final stir to ensure no flour pockets remain.
- 4. Divide dough into 16 portions, each about 3 tablespoons (or use #24 cookie scoop). Arrange 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets, 8 dough balls per sheet. (Smaller baking sheets can be used, but will require 3 batches.)
- Bake cookies 1 tray at a time until cookies are golden brown and still puffy, and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft, 10 to 14 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking. Transfer baking sheet to wire rack; cool cookies completely before serving.