Monday, May 9, 2011

Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies

Last week, I happened to catch an interesting tweet from America's Test Kitchen (@TestKitchen). It asked Boston Food Bloggers if they wanted a chance to visit the set of America's Test Kitchen or win a 1-year membership to CooksIllustrated.com. Though I wouldn't be able to make it to a Monday showing of America's Test Kitchen, I would love a 1-year membership to CooksIllustrated.com. Yes, please.

To enter to win, all Boston Food Bloggers have to do is blog about making America's Test Kitchen's Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies. Though I'm technically not a Boston Food Blogger anymore, it seemed easy enough. I do love Chocolate Chip Cookies.

I went on to read that these were not any average Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies. The geniuses over at America's Test Kitchen actually improved upon Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies. How does one improve upon a classic? How do you best the people who invented chocolate chip cookie? Now I had to make these.

Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies (From Cook's Illustrated)
  • 1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (8.75 ozs.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 14 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 3/4 sticks)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar (3 1/2 ozs.)
  • 3/4 cups packed dark brown sugar (5 1/4 ozs.)
  • 1 teaspoon table salt
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 1/4 cups semisweet chocolate chips or chunks
  • 3/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts, toasted (optional)
Directions

So, the recipe tells you to start by opening up your oven and moving one of your racks to the middle position. I always forget to do this when I'm baking and dangerously try to juggle hot racks wearing a couple of oven mitts. But this recipe starts with a friendly reminder. Good tip.

Now you are ready to heat your oven to 375 degrees and line two large baking sheets with parchment paper. Set those aside and get to work on your ingredients.

I'm about to make an embarrassing, but honest, admission. Though I pride myself on being a decent baker, I have never in my life measured out my dry ingredients. I cringe even saying it. I'm more of a dip and sweep girl cause that's how Mom used to roll. Since this recipe is pretty much challenging Toll House's legendary chocolate chip cookie recipe to a battle, I decided to try and follow the recipe as best I could. Here's proof.


Once weighed and measured, whisk together flour and baking soda in medium bowl. Set them aside.

Separate 10 tablespoons of butter and place them in a 10-inch skillet. Then, as if mocking my decision to follow this recipe to a T, the directions say, "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." Sadly, I only own one 10-inch skillet and it's as non-stick as they come.

Back to the recipe. Heat butter over medium-high heat until melted, about two minutes. Continue cooking, swirling pan constantly until butter is dark golden brown and has nutty aroma, about one to three minutes.


After both timing and trying to pay extra attention to how my butter smelled, I was confident that my butter was properly browned.

So, next remove skillet from heat and, using heatproof spatula, transfer browned butter to large heatproof bowl. Stir remaining four tablespoons of butter into hot butter until completely melted.


This is when I started to believe that America's Test Kitchen maybe could improve on Nestle Tollhouse Chocolate Chip Cookies. The butter smelled like sweet caramel and took on a gorgeous brown glow. Yum

Next, add both sugars, salt, and vanilla to bowl with butter and whisk until fully incorporated. Add egg and egg yolk. 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.

This step was pretty interesting. Usually the only thing I let rest in the kitchen is meat. I've never thought of letting my batter rest, but according to America's Test Kitchen, "whisking sugar into the liquid ingredients and then waiting 10 minutes allows more of it to dissolve, setting up better flavor and texture." Plus, it makes the batter look just gorgeous.


Next, using rubber spatula or wooden spoon, stir in flour mixture until just combined, about 1 minute.


Here comes my favorite part.


Stir in chocolate chips and nuts. 

I went with no nuts. Alex is not a fan, and I didn't want to eat 16 cookies all by myself. Also, I must note that I was quite skeptical of this part because there are less chocolate chips in America's Test Kitchen's Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies. Normally, my rule about chocolate chips is the same as my rule about cinnamon. Double it, maybe, even triple it.

But, I'm trying to follow the recipe here so I'll go with only one and a quarter cup and give the dough a final stir to ensure no flour pockets remain. 

Next, divide dough into 16 portions, each about 3 tablespoons, or use #24 cookie scoop. The directions didn't quite say where to go next. Do I roll these into balls? It said to arrange two inches apart on prepared baking sheets, 8 dough balls per sheet. So, even though I normally just grab two teaspoons and drop chunks of dough on to a prepared baking sheet, I followed the recipe for perfect, uniform morsels.


Bake cookies one tray at a time until cookies are golden brown and still puffy, and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft, ten to 14 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking.

My first batch, totally burned at ten minutes, but that is not the recipes fault. My oven runs hot. My second batch came out perfect at eight minutes.

Next, transfer baking sheet to wire rack and try very hard not to drop any of them. Yep, great job, Erin.


Cool cookies completely on a wire cooling rack before serving. Okay, this direction I didn't follow. I love chocolate chip cookies fresh out of the oven.


The end result are that these cookies are delicious.

The cookie part far exceeds the original. You can certainly taste the difference made by the browned butter. There are layers of flavor from toffee to caramel to butterscotch that just can't be beat. That being said, I would totally double the chocolate chips. I know less chips make for a chewier cookie, but more chips leads to a more chocolatey cookie. All and all, I'm not sure who's the winner, but these are totally delicious cookies.


I chose to eat my second one with some vanilla frozen yogurt topped in caramel and chocolate sauce. Pretty indulgent, but hey it was Saturday night. Yum.

3 comments:

  1. They look perfect and beautiful! I could eat one off the screen right now!

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  2. Your brown butter looks perfect! I've seen a lot of versions of these cookies now, and I think some people are afraid of actually browning the butter. Great job!

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  3. I like where your head is at with doubling the chocolate chips - you can't ever have too much chocolate! These look great, I'm about to grab one of the ones I made, and am thinking I'll take your lead and have it with some frozen yogurt too!

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