This time I mean it.
I know I’ve written no fewer than five different columns on the “Earth’s best chocolate chip cookies" and each time, insisted "This time I really mean it!”
But this time I really mean it.
One of the advantages to the pandemic is that I’ve never had so much time to bake. Who cares if Crystal Sugar has to dispatch a special helicopter to make monthly “brown sugar drops” directly to my house? So what if I’ve needed to sew extra elastic into my sweatpants to accommodate my “glutenous”-maximus?
Hey, I love to bake. The ritual of measuring and leveling and stirring calms me. I may not be able to control the chaos outside my house, but as long as I use room-temperature eggs and soft butter and good flour, measured just so, I can (usually) control what comes out of the oven.
The opportunity to shovel in a chewy, fudgy, warmly satisfying cookie, with a glass of ice-cold milk to “cut” the sweetness, doesn’t hurt either.
So here is the greatest chocolate chip cookie I’ve discovered to date. It actually comes from Jacques Torres, the cuddly French chocolatier/"Nailed It" judge who I would liken to a French Pillsbury Doughboy if I didn't suspect most French pastry chefs lose consciousness at the thought of croissants from a can. Jacques once uttered these immortal words: “The best way to store chocolate is in your stomach.”
How can you not love the guy?
If you plan to make them, you must promise yourself several things:
The dough absolutely must be refrigerated for no fewer than 24 hours, so that all the ingredients meld together into a rich, sugary-buttery-salty fusion of perfection. I realize this is difficult, because who wants to wait a whole day when they’re jonesing for chocolate chip cookies? But it’s worth it. (And if you simply can’t wait, use pasteurized eggs so you can at least eat some of the cookie dough.)
You’ll have to fuss a bit by buying two types of flour. Be sure to measure by pouring the flour into your measuring cups, rather than scooping them in the flour — which can result in too much flour. Then level them exactly. (I know. I sound like Miss Mundy, your home ec teacher, but when making a cookie of this magnitude, Miss Mundy knows best.)
After adding in the flour mixture, do not overbeat the dough. It will activate the gluten proteins, resulting in cookies that are more cakelike or even a bit tough.
Remember: It’s good to be a tough cookie, but not to serve tough cookies.
So here we go, adapted ever so slightly from his recipe in The New York Times:
Jacques Torres' Chocolate Chip Cookies
- 2 cups minus 2 tablespoons cake flour (8 1/2 ounces)
- 1 ⅔ cups bread flour (8 1/2 ounces)
- 1 ¼ teaspoons baking soda
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- 1 ½ teaspoons coarse salt
- 1 ¼ cups unsalted butter (2 1/2 sticks)
- 1 ¼ cups light brown sugar
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract
- 1 ¼ pounds bittersweet chocolate disks, at least 60% cacao content (I actually mixed milk chocolate chips with semisweet chunks, and this low-brow version was still irresistible)
- Sea salt
Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl, or stir them together with a wire whisk, if you feel sifting is too 1968. Set aside.
Using a mixer, cream butter and sugars together until very light, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, 1 at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. Reduce speed to low, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds. Drop chocolate pieces in and incorporate them without breaking them. Press plastic wrap against dough and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours. Dough may be used in batches, and can be refrigerated for up to 72 hours.
When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
Scoop six 3 1/2-ounce mounds of dough (somewhere between a golf ball and whiffle ball ) onto baking sheet. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and bake until golden brown but still soft, 16 to 20 minutes.
Leave on pan for a couple of minutes, then transfer to a wire rack or parchment-covered counter to cool. Eat warm, with a big napkin.
Readers can reach Forum News Service columnist and business reporter Tammy Swift at email@example.com.