I don’t know what’s going on, guys. But I have been in one of those zones where I am in Taking On the World Mode. There has to be some kind of groovy, planetary thing that’s propelling this insanity, because I’m suddenly all about Next Level Stuff over here. Like taking the leap to “big’gerl underwearz” (for Little C, not me, pervs!) the same week as finding out that I’m taking on some new projects that simultaneously thrill and terrify me (I will tell more as soon as I’m sure I won’t get sued for it, I promise!). This is all on top of getting super close to Go Time for the fabulous San Francisco Food Bloggers’ Bake Sale. Also, Royal Wedding fever? I’ve totally come down with it. True.
So last week, right about the same time that the words “potty” and “big girl panties” started being used in high-pitched questions way too often in our household, my beloved brother-in-law came for a short visit. The brother-in-law who, along with my sister, will be chiefly responsible for my child thinking her own parents are seriously, helplessly uncool. He was on his way through town to play a few shows here in San Francisco, and I couldn’t send him back on the road without cookies and candy, naturally. You know how that whole thing goes.
The plan was just to go with good old chocolate chip cookies–no fancy cookie pants, just traditional, chocolate-chipped love. I had all the ingredients in the house, things were looking easy peasy. Until I tapped into those Next-Level Urges I was telling you about earlier. They’re insatiable, I’m telling you. I know, I don’t know EITHER. But I suddenly decided a regular chocolate chip cookie was totally Current Level and therefore simply would not do.
This is how it all goes go down. Hack up a bunch of chocolate chips (if you’ve got a few odds and ends of bars and almost-empty bags of chips in your cupboards, even better), breaking some up just a little, creating lots of little shards out of the rest. You’re going for a sort of chocolate tweed here, with the occasional hunk.
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
Scant 1/2 teaspoon almond extract
2 large eggs, at room temperature
1 1/2 to 2 cups bittersweet chocolate chips (or a combination of different kinds of chips), roughly chopped into hunks and shards (see note)
Place the butter in a medium saucepan over medium high heat. Melt and cook the butter over until it is browned and smells nutty, swirling the pan occasionally, about 6 minutes. Listen closely–as soon as the butter stops sizzling and popping, you are seconds away from perfectly browned butter. Pour the browned butter into a small metal pan. Freeze until the butter is completely solid, about 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the freezer and let it sit at room temperature for about 10-15 minutes.
In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda and salt.
Place the sugars and extracts in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Scrape the browned butter out of the pan in hunks and place them in the mixer bowl. Beat the butter, sugars and extracts together until smooth, light and fluffy, about 3 to 4 minutes (depending on how cold the butter is when you put it in the bowl, it may take a minute or two longer). Scrape down the bowl and beat in the eggs one at a time. Reduce the mixer speed to low and gradually stir in the flour. Stir in the chocolate bits by hand. Cover the bowl tightly with plastic wrap and chill for at least an hour, or up to 2 days.
When you’re ready to bake, position the oven racks to the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat it to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats. Scoop the dough into 1-tablespoon-sized balls and place them on the baking sheets, 12 to a sheet. Bake until golden brown, about 13 to 15 minutes, rotating the sheets top to bottom and front to back halfway through baking. Let the cookies cool for a minute before transferring them to wire racks to cool completely. Repeat with the remaining dough. Store in an airtight container at room temperature.
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