Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Chewy: Chocolate Chip Cookies

I was born and raised a Toll House girl. Plain and simple. No complaints. They are perfectly delectable and an American classic. My mom made them for us just as my grandma made them for her. I have wonderful memories of my Mom and me bellied up to the counter rolling dough balls to place on cookie sheets for baking. If I was really luck, we would forgo the rolling and press all the dough into a baking dish to make pan cookies (my favorite).

With such fond memories and a love for the Toll House recipe, why would I search for another chocolate chip cookie? That is a fair question. All I can say is that as I continue to write this blog, I have become a bit of a crazy person collecting recipes and reading baking posts from other talented bakers. It seems as though there is a bit of a debate in the blogging world as to which recipe produces the best, the supreme, the ultimate chocolate chip cookie.

I decided that I must join in on this quest even if I had to betray my beloved Toll House. And, who better to begin with than Mr. Food Science himself, Alton Brown. He has never let me down before. So, off I went to conquer, "The Chewy".

These cookies are reminiscent of the Toll House variety, but this recipe is unusual in that it calls for bread flour instead of all-purpose and to melt the butter before creaming it with the sugars. I had never heard of this before. What sort of craziness was this? However, after doing some research I discovered that the bread flour allows for the chewy texture of the cookie. Go figure. I am still not sure why he has you melt the butter first, but the cookies were delicious, so I am not gonna argue with his mad science.


Slowly and the flour a little at a time, and mix until just right.

Add your semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used Toll House so I didn't feel like I was a total cookie back-stabber) or even better high quality chocolate chunks..... mmmmm! You want to make sure you get the proper chocolate to cookie dough ratio for each bite. It is a crucial step in my mind.

Alton's recipe tells you to chill the dough for 1 hour. I upped that big time to 12 hours, at least. In my opinion, it allows for the caramel undertones in the dough to deepen, and it prevents it the cookies from spreading while baking. I will actually chill mine for 24 next time I make these.

I also stick the formed dough balls in the freezer for 10 minutes before placing in the oven. Overkill? Maybe, but my cookies were pretty much perfect :)

They were chewy around the edges and soft and tender in the middle with just the right amount of sweetness. The salt to sweet balance was perfect. I heart these cookies!

Sorry, Toll House. You've been bumped by "The Chewy".

Hmmm... do I dare continue on this quest? Is there a cookie out there even better than "The Chewy"?

I will ponder the question and get back to you....

The Chewy  
(Recipe adapted from Alton Brown)  

Yield: About 2 dozen cookies

2 sticks (8 ounces) unsalted butter
2 1/2 cups (12 ounces) bread flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup (2 ounces) granulated sugar
1 1/4 cup (8 ounces) light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
2 tablespoons (1 ounce) whole milk
1 1/2 teaspoons real vanilla extract
2 cups (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips or chunks

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over low heat. Pour the butter into the bowl of your stand mixer and set it aside to cool slightly, about 10 minutes.

Sift together the flour, salt and baking soda.

Add the sugar and brown sugar to the mixing bowl, and beat with the paddle attachment on medium speed for 2 minutes.

Meanwhile, whisk together the whole egg, the egg yolk, milk and vanilla extract in a measuring cup. Reduce the mixer speed to low-medium and slowly add the egg mixture. Mix until thoroughly combined, about 30 seconds.

Set the mixer to low speed, and slowly add the flour to the batter a little at a time.  Stop a couple of times to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Once the flour is worked in, stop the mixer and add the chocolate chips. Stir until the chips are thoroughly combined. Cover the dough with saran wrap and chill for at least 12 hours, if not longer. I chill mine overnight. 

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and place racks in the top third and bottom third of the oven.

Scoop the dough into large tablespoon (1 1/2-ounce) portions and place onto parchment-lined cookie sheets, 6 cookies per sheet. (I placed my cookie sheets in the freezer for 10 minutes before baking.) Bake for 12-15 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through. Remove from the oven, and allow cookies to cool on pan for 5 minutes before removing from pans. Remove cookies from pan and place on cooling rack to cool completely, or pour yourself a glass of cold milk and enjoy warm... YUM!

Note: I baked mine for 13 minutes, rotating the pan after six and a half minutes.

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