Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies

I have a confession to make.

I'm not a big fan of chocolate chip cookies.  Actually, chocolate in general.  Most of the time, it's too sweet and I can only handle so much sweet at a time.  Ideally I like my sweet to be balanced with something else, which may be why I like Reese's Pieces so much.  Or I'm just weird.

I do love baking any kind of cookie out there though, and I do have a go-to chocolate chip recipe - Martha Stewart's Soft and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies from her Cookie book.  A deliciously simple recipe that stayed soft and perfect for days after.  I didn't think any recipe could top that one.

Well America's Test Kitchen just had to go and up the ante, didn't they.  Last season they featured an improved chocolate chip cookie recipe that took the flavor up a notch from their previous cookie recipe - browned butter.

Browned butter cookies, cooling on a rack.

Browning butter infuses more flavor into the cookie, giving it a nutty, almost toffee like flavor.  Mmm flavor.  But the first time I browned the butter, I kept it on the stove too long, trying to get the butter as deep brown as possible, and I burned the butter.  Woe is me.  The second time around, I was extremely vigilant about the browning, and took it off the stove earlier.  Also, please use a 10 inch skillet.  I couldn't find a 10 inch skillet (or I was too lazy to clean one) in my stainless steel pan collection, so I used an 8 inch skillet.  It took longer to brown the butter.

You must use a stainless steel or other light colored pan to brown the butter.  Nonstick pans tend to be dark, so you won't see the butter browning, but you definitely will smell it... when it's burned.

Also, do NOT skip the rest/whisk part of the recipe!  It really thickens up the butter/sugar/egg mixture, and it is so unique compared to any other cookie recipe I've ever baked.

Gorgeous cookies.

The verdict?  Mr. Unoriginal Chef liked the different taste, but he couldn't give me an answer as to which one was better.  My testers at work couldn't give me a definitive answer other than "OMNOMNOM COOKIE." I liked the flavor, liked how the cookie remained soft the next day, and liked that I worked with melted butter instead of creaming butter (one less appliance to clean!)  It's really a toss up between which recipe I would use as my go-to recipe, but this one is definitely a contender.

Find out for yourself.

Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies from America's Test Kitchen, Season 10.

  • 1 3/4 cup unbleached all purpose flour 
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 14 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 3/4 sticks)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cups dark brown sugar, packed
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups semisweet chocolate chips or chunks (10 ounces in a 12 ounce bag, roughly)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 3/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts, toasted. (optional) 

1.  Preheat your oven to 375 degrees.  Make sure the rack is in the middle.  Line a baking sheet with parchment.

2.  Whisk together baking soda and flour, set aside.

3.  Heat 10 tablespoons of butter in a 10 inch skillet over medium heat until melted, about 2 minutes.  Continue cooking, swirling the pan constantly until butter is dark golden brown and has a nutty aroma, about 1 to 3 minutes.  It will burn VERY quickly, so watch closely!

4.  Remove skillet from heat and transfer butter to a heatproof bowl.  (My Pyrex bowl worked fine.)  Stir the remaining four tablespoons of butter into the hot butter and stir until melted.

5.  Add brown and granulated sugar, salt and vanilla to the butter.  (I highly advise measuring out the sugar before hand if possible.)  Whisk until fully incorporated.

6.  Add egg and egg yolk to the mixture.  Whisk mixture until smooth and no sugar lumps remain, about 30 seconds.  Let the mixture stand for three minutes, then whisk for 30 seconds.  Repeat the stand and whisk procedure twice.  The mixture will be thick, smooth, and shiny.

7.  Add the flour to the mixture and stir to combine, about one minute.  Stir in chocolate chips and nuts, if using and stir to incorporate and make sure there are no flour pockets (check the bottom!)

8.  ATK recommends making 3 tablespoon sized cookies, or use a #24 cookie scoop.  I used a tablespoon to scoop and formed it with my fingers.

9.  Bake cookies one tray at a time for 9-10 minutes (smaller cookies) or 10 to 14 minutes (larger cookies.)  Halfway through, rotate the cookie sheet.  Cookies are done when they are golden brown and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft.

10.  Transfer baking sheet to a wire rack to cool, then transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool.  (I had to do this, I needed the baking sheet to make another batch!)

Cookies cooling on the sheet... reflecting on their existence in another pot.

ATK's recipe says to cool completely before serving, but I love warm, out of the oven cookies.  I may have yoinked a cookie off this sheet after it cooled to the touch.

1 comment:

  1. I generally like ATK recipes. I'll have to try this one out!