I have a confession to make. I do not bake. I am not good at it . . . yet. My sister, on the other hand, is an excellent baker. Some might say it’s her degree in chemistry. Others might say that it is a matter of temperament: an unflappable patience with the oven, the discipline to follow recipes, and a certain intuitiveness about the magic that governs eggs and butter, flour and sugar.
The chocolate chip cookie is an old nemesis of mine. And I have never been able to master it completely. Just when I thought I was beyond temptation, the chocolate chip cookie called again, and I found a recipe that claimed delicious and chewy cookies with hints of toffee and caramel preceding the chocolate, so melt-in-your-mouth appealing that the cookies were irresistible. I watched my sister make them, thinking “how hard can this be?” I just need to follow the recipe. And how can I be intimidated by the ever popular, ever beloved chocolate chip cookie? I forged ahead: browning butter for a deep toffee taste, using the correct brown sugar to white sugar ratio for intense caramel flavor, and whipping eggs until a silky texture was achieved. I measured with precision, and everything went according to plan, until I decided to refrigerate the dough (just for a couple of hours, what could possibly go wrong?) and run an errand.
Doing so changed the structure of something . . . and the cookies did not spread as promised. It figured. They were still yummy but the domelike shape didn’t yield the right crispy/chewy combination. But success was within reach. At least I didn’t make hockey puck cookies that might be used in slingshots. The recipe was fairly easy and didn’t require any fancy gadgets. And I am no longer daunted.
The photos below are from the batch baked by my sister, of course. Credit must be given where credit is due. The recipe is from Cook’s Illustrated magazine, May/June 2009, titled “Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies.” The recipe calls for the dough to be split into 16 portions, which yields enormous cookies. She made standard size cookies and the texture was equally good. And yes, they were pretty close to perfect.
Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies
Recipe available at link below:
The Cook’s Illustrated recipe is full of slight tweaks and modifications. Browning the butter is key as is increasing the amount of brown sugar in the recipe. We changed the final proportion size to make a smaller cookie. Cookie dough balls pictured above are approximately the size of golf balls. Baking the cookies on parchment paper made the clean-up process very easy.
Here they are! So good. Crispy edges, chewy interior, and gooey chocolate.