Monday, September 22, 2014

The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie

A good chocolate chip cookie can change a person's mood in a second. It is a taste of your childhood, instantly transporting you back to a simpler time in life.

It is easy to make yourself the perfect chocolate chip cookie. There are countless recipes out there, suited to all the varying tastes that are specific to the individual. Nuts or not? Chewy or crispy?

A perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe should be able to meet the needs of all. This recipe, modified from America's Test Kitchen, can be adapted easily to please everybody.

The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie
Makes approximately 24 cookies

1¾ cups unbleached all-purpose flour (8¾ ounces)
½ teaspoon baking soda
14 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
¾ cup (5¼ ounces) dark brown sugar
½ cup (3½ ounces) granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 egg

1 egg yolk
1½ cups semisweet chocolate chips
¾ cup nuts of choice, chopped (optional)
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. 
In a medium bowl, combine the flour and baking soda; set aside.
Heat 10 tbsp. of the butter in a stainless steel pot with a large base (10 or 12 inch is preferred). Continue to cook the butter, swirling the pan constantly until the butter is dark golden brown and has a nutty aroma, about 3 minutes longer. Remove from heat and stir the remaining 4 tbsp. of butter into the hot browned butter until completely melted. 
Add both sugars, salt, and vanilla extract to the butter. Whisk until fully incorporated. Let set until cooled until room temperature. 
Add egg and yolk to the sugar/butter mixture, whisk until smooth. Let the mixture stand for 3 minutes, then whisk for an additional 30 seconds. Repeat the process until the mixture is thick, smooth, and shiny. 
Using a wooden spoon, or rubber spatula, stir in the flour mixture until just combined. 
Make sure that the dough is cool, fold in chocolate chips and nuts if desired.
Follow Directions Below for baking instructions depending on how you want your cookies to turn out.
For Chewy, Golden Brown Cookies: Refrigerate dough for 20-40 minutes, until firm. Work quickly to place dough on tray and place in oven. Refrigerate unused portion until ready to bake. Bake until edges are just set, puffy & still soft in the center, about 10 minutes.

For Chewy, Dark Brown Cookies: Refrigerator dough for 20-40 minutes, until firm. Work quickly to get dough on tray. Refrigerate unused portion until ready to bake. Place tray on lowest rack of oven, bake for approximate 10 minutes. You must watch them carefully because they will go from browned to burnt very quickly. 

For Crisp, Golden/Dark Brown Cookies: Do not refrigerate the dough, place dough on trays. For golden brown cookies, bake for approximately 14 minutes. Until edges are browned and center is set. Bake for 16 minutes for dark brown cookies. 

For Nuts in Some Cookies: Scoop out dough for first tray. Bake as desired. Fold in nuts into remaining dough. Bake as desired.

Scoop the dough into 24 even portions, each about 2 tablespoons, and arrange them about 1 1/2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets.
Bake the cookies 1 tray at a time following directions from above, rotating the baking sheet halfway through baking. Transfer cookies to wire rack and allow cookies to cool completely before serving. Cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.

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