With my recent purchase of my now beloved Tramontina cookware, an issue of Cook's Illustrated, which extolled the virtues of said cookware, was tucked inside the box. I love the magazine, for its pleasingly retro, low-tech, no ad feel. Also, there's a beautifully illustrated back page of seasonal varieties of fruit and vegetables. The magazine does a complete investigative journey into each recipe, with testing, tasting, and scientific explanations. These sorts of things give me a fantastic high-school-chemistry sort of tingle. I'm an avid reader of Harold McGee's column in the NY Times and remember fondly one of the first recipes I ever made, Oobleck.
This particular recipe, in the May & June 2009 issue, aims to perfect the chocolate chip cookie recipe. I have always been a fan of the classic Tollhouse cookie, but hey -- any excuse to make a batch. Plus, this one looked like fun.
Cook's Illustrated involves browning the butter to decrease its moisture content and increase the chewiness of the cookies (this is not a crispy cookie recipe). The browned butter also creates a rich and nutty flavor.
The other different technique is letting the dough rest. Some may recall Jaccques Torres's article about letting his cookie dough rest for 24 hours. This version involves a combination of resting and stirring that claims to achieve the same rich flavor objective. In any event, I can't plan my cookie consumption that far in advance, so a rest of 10 minutes is about the maximum I can handle.
Ultimately, this was actually very easy to put together and did indeed produce moist, chewy cookies with a little crispiness around the edges, and a buttery, toffee flavor around the chocolate chips.
Cook's Illustrated Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 3/4 C. all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
14 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1/2 C. granulated sugar
1 3/4 C. dark brown sugar
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 egg yolk
1 1/4 C. semi-sweet chocolate chips
3/4 C. chopped walnuts
Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Mix flour and baking soda together in a small bowl.
Melt 10 tablespoons of the butter in a 10 inch skillet over medium heat until melted. Then, swirling pan constantly, continue cooking for another 1-3 minutes until butter is dark golden brown and smells nutty. Remove from heat and pour into a heat-proof bowl, then add the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter and stir until melted.
Add both sugars, salt and vanilla to the butter and whisk until combined. Add eggs and whisk until smooth. Let mixture stand 3 minutes, then mix for 30 seconds. Repeat twice more.
Stir in flour mixture until just combined. Add chocolate chips and nuts.
Drop about 2-3 tablespoons of dough onto the cookie sheet. Bake in batches for about 10 minutes, until the cookies are golden brown and puffy in the center, and starting to crisp around the edges.
Makes 16-20 cookies.