Monday, July 13, 2015

Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies

I've never met anyone who doesn't like cookies in some shape or form. Whether they are basic chocolate chips, rich and nutty peanut butter cookies, spiced snickerdoodles, sweet and jammy thumbprints, or crumbly and buttery shortbread, there are varieties of cookies to fit any cookie craving.

My usual go-to cookie recipe which hits all my cravings is this Cranberry Chocolate Chip Oatmeal creation. It has the best of many worlds, from the plethora of chocolate chips, the tart and chewy dried cranberries, and the hearty oats. They are a cinch to make and popular among kids and adults.

Recently, I was in the mood to whip up some cookies, and was about to go for my tried and true recipe, but decided to make Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies instead. I rarely make plain chocolate chip cookies, usually opting for my more intense oatmeal and cranberry number, but chocolate chip was the cookie of the day!

My favorite texture for chocolate chip cookies is crisp around the edges and chewy and gooey in the center. The favorite chocolate chip cookies are the ones from Clementine in Los Angeles. There's something about their ginormous, thin, perfect chocolate chip cookies that have stuck with me for years and years. I associate their cookies with pure happiness.

There are millions of chocolate chip cookie recipes that span the globe. Even in my Martha Stewart Cookies cookbook there are several, from chewy to nutty to cakey to crunchy, you can make chocolate chip cookies any texture you desire!

I did a bit of research, and decided to try Christina Tosi's (of Momofuku Milk Bar in NYC) recipe, but added a bit of coarse sea salt on top to finish them off. Her recipe is incredibly easy to make and begins with melted butter and two sugars. You make the entire dough by hand (no mixer required) and since it utilizes melted butter, it's very easy to mix together.

Using a lot of butter and less egg and flour results in that thin-looking cookie I was hoping to obtain, inspired by Clementine. An entire bag of chocolate chips goes into these, and when scooping them with my 2 1/2 ounce Oxo ice cream scoop (typically reserved for making muffins, cupcakes, and giant cookies--not ice cream) in slightly heaping portions (the recipe states 2 3/4 ounce portions) I actually yielded 12 very large cookies instead of the 1 1/2 dozen it specified.

In the future, I could scale down the portions just a bit and still get very generous sized cookies that cook in the time specified in the recipe. Mine need a few extra minutes to bake since apparently they turned out bigger than the recipe was aiming to yield.

Either way, these cookies are exceptional! I will hands down make them again, and honestly I can't see myself making any other chocolate chip cookie recipe (not including my beloved Cranberry Chocolate Chips) ever again. These match the size, flatness, and texture of what I was hoping to obtain, and they are bursting with chocolate chips!

The day they're made is always the best, because even once they cool a bit the chips are still molten and gooey. They can last several days in an airtight container, and the texture on the days following their inception will still be perfectly chewy (the milk powder plays a part in that) with a bit of crunch at the edges, and soft (but no longer gooey) chocolate chips. In other words, it's the perfect chocolate chip cookie.

Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes about 1 1/2 dozen
(Adapted from Milk Bar Life)

1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and just warm to the touch
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons nonfat milk powder
1 1/4 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 (12 ounce) bag semisweet chocolate chips
Coarse sea salt (I used Guerande gray sea salt)

Heat the oven to 375 degrees F.

With a wooden spoon or sturdy spatula, mix together the butter and both sugars in a large bowl, until homogenous, about 1 minute. Add the egg and vanilla and stir until combined, about 1 minute.

Mix in the flour, milk powder, salt, baking powder, and baking soda until just combined, about 30 seconds. Add the chocolate chips and mix until evenly distributed, about 30 seconds. (If your dough is exceptionally wet, it's a factor of too-hot melted butter. Throw it in the fridge for a few minutes to firm up before baking.)

Portion 2 3/4 ounce scoops of dough about 2 to 3 inches apart onto a parchment paper-lined baking tray. Sprinkle the tops with coarse sea salt. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, until golden brown. Cool completely on the pan.

*Note* I actually yielded exactly 1 dozen giant cookies from this recipe using a slightly heaping 2 1/2 ounce Oxo ice cream/cookie scoop (essentially 2 3/4 ounces). Each baking sheet (which I baked one after the other--not simultaneously--on the middle rack of the oven) baked for about 14 to 15 minutes since they apparently turned out bigger than the original recipe intended. I'm sure if you actually yield 1 1/2 dozen slightly smaller cookies, they should bake in the time specified above.

*Update 7/25/15* I recently made these cookies again, but used a smaller cookie scoop (1 1/2 tablespoon capacity made by Oxo--#40 size) and yielded about 30 smaller cookies. When baking two sheets simultaneously in the oven, they required about 12 to 13 minutes, rotating from top to bottom and front to back. Later, the lone third cookie sheet on the middle rack only required about 9 minutes. These cookies were obviously smaller, but still retain the excellent chewy quality of the larger version. Honestly, make them either size and you won't be disappointed!


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