Happy baking season: The perfect chocolate chip cookie

It’s kind of adorable when cookie recipes say “Cool completely before serving.” Who are they kidding, really? They’re lucky if the dough makes it to the oven before disappearing by the spoonful in the name of “taste testing.” And let’s be honest, a warm cookie oozing chocolate may be one of life’s small perfections. “Cool before serving”–bah, humbug.

It's all worth it

So starts December, month of cookies and baked goods coming at you from every direction. (I know, we’ve barely finished the last bites of turkey and pie. Time flies when you’re having fun eating all the things.)

Simple ingredients
Butter, browned

I’ve said before I’m much more a fan of savory than sweet (pretty obviously so if you look at my recipe archive), but I’ll make an exception on occasion. And an exceptionally good chocolate chip cookie is just one of those occasions.

Add the egg
And we whisk

These cookies also happened to be the first use for the 6.5 pound bag of bittersweet chocolate I brought back from Paris. While you can of course use whatever chocolate you like, I’ve found I like the less-sweet dark chocolate. And while chips are traditional, I also prefer chopping up a big chocolate bar instead. I love how the pieces end up in varying sizes so I get a mix of nice chocolate chunks along with shards that melt into thin chocolate layers throughout the cookie. If you can find these fun little coin shapes, use them, or simply chop up a thick chocolate bar (I like Trader Joe’s Pound Plus bars).

This smells exactly like caramel Flour goes in Don't over-mix

And of course chocolate chip cookies require nuts (preferably walnuts). If you leave them out…well I just don’t know why you’d do such a thing (barring a deathly allergy, in which case you get a pass).

More good stuff It is physically impossible not to sneak a bite at this point Nearly cookies

What I absolutely love about this recipe though is the browned butter. I know, browned butter has become as irritatingly trendy as pumpkin spice or the cronut (a terribly obnoxious word that will keep me from ever eating one, by the way), which is unfortunate as toasty brown butter just so damn good. Honestly after you mix the butter with the sugars, salt, and vanilla, it smells exactly like the best caramel on earth. (I will not admit to pretty much huffing the dough as I was stirring it. Nope.) And then come the aforementioned chocolate and nuts, and why are you still reading? Go. Make cookies. I won’t tell if you eat them before they’re cool.

Best chocolate chip cookies

(I also won’t tell you that it’s super easy to freeze this cookie dough in balls so you can bake one or two cookies at a time, because do you know how good frozen cookie dough is? Just trust me, the cookies will be even less likely to make it to the oven.)

Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies
America’s Test Kitchen does it again. I haven’t altered the proportions and steps below, but I made one adjustment that may have made these even more caramel-y than normal. I actually ran out of brown sugar (…I know, right? Hell must have gotten awfully chilly there for a bit) so I made my own by combining 1 pound of white sugar and 4 ounces of molasses in my food processor until it looked brown sugar-ish. You can do this step if you like and store the rest of the brown sugar in an airtight container.

Also, check your oven temperature with an oven thermometer before you start any big baking sessions this time of year–I just discovered mine runs 20 (!!!) degrees hot.

1 3/4 cups flour (8 3/4 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
14 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 3/4 sticks)\
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cups packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon table salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 1/4 cups bittersweet chocolate chips or chunks
3/4 cup chopped walnuts, toasted
Flaked sea salt (optional)

Place your oven rack in the middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk flour and baking soda together in a small bowl; set aside.

Melt 10 tablespoons butter in a 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat. Continue cooking, stirring often, until the butter is dark golden brown and has nutty aroma. Pour butter into a large heatproof bowl. Whisk remaining 4 tablespoons butter into the hot butter until it’s completely melted.

Add both sugars, salt, and vanilla to the butter and whisk until fully incorporated. Add egg and yolk and whisk until mixture is smooth with no large sugar lumps remaining, about 30 seconds. Let mixture stand 3 minutes, then whisk for 30 seconds. Repeat resting and whisking 2 more times until mixture is thick, smooth, and shiny. Stir in flour mixture until just combined, a few streaks of flour are ok. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts, giving dough final stir to ensure no flour pockets remain.

Divide dough into portions about 2 tablespoons each (slightly larger if you prefer. Arrange 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets, about 11 dough balls per sheet. Top with a few flakes of sea salt if you’re feeling fancy.

Bake 1 tray at a time until cookies are just turning golden brown and the edges have begun to set but centers are puffy and soft, 10 to 14 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking.

Transfer baking sheet to a cooling rack; cool cookies completely until they’re perfectly warm and gooey before serving.

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6 thoughts on “Happy baking season: The perfect chocolate chip cookie

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