So let’s begin with the elephant in the room:
Does the Internet really need another chocolate chip cookie recipe?
Upon realizing that I’ve never really shared with you my go-to chocolate chip cookie formula–the base recipe from which I’m forever riffing–could I sleep another night without telling you about it (not that I’ve experienced an actual full night’s sleep since last February, butheywhateverthanksbabyboy)?
Over this past weekend, I Instagrammed a photo of my latest batch of chocolate chip cookies, this time marveling about the effect of just one simple change to my usual recipe. Instead of using regular old unsalted butter, I was feeling particularly saucy (and unnaturally excited) about having some Plugra in the fridge that I’d scored on sale (on my own dime, totally just because I felt like it, not because they’re paying me to tell you this, I swear), and threw it into the mixer bowl instead. And hoo, boy. It really made such a remarkable difference. Such a hearty chew, such depth of buttery flavor. Fantastic.
Now, if you’re not familiar with Plugra or other European-style butters, the great thing about them is that they actually have more fat and less water than other brands of butter (this of course equals more richness and just more of everything that’s awesome about butter in the first place). So really, you’re getting more butter for your buck when you go Euro for this ingredient. I’ve chosen it over standard issue butters plenty of times for special occasions, especially for frostings for celebration cakes, but typically I stick to the regular unsalted stuff for everyday cookies and treats and really, it works just fine. But maybe consider going for the classy butter the next time you make a recipe from your personal arsenal that you’ve made and loved 100 times, and see if you find a notable difference, too?
Kind of like switching to dark brown sugar from light brown, or springing for premium vanilla extract (or making your own), subbing in European-style butter is a super easy upgrade that makes a world of difference in the crave-worthy factor of desserts, without throwing the recipe off. As we’re hurtling towards high baking season, this tip is a good one to keep filed away in your brain folder. And I’d say this chocolate chip cookie recipe is a good place to start.
My Go-To Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe
Makes about 3 dozen 2 1/2-inch cookies
In the interest of full disclosure and helping you make the kind of chocolate chip cookie that will have people emailing you all desperate for the recipe, I’m going to list the specific ingredients that I reach for when I really want to blow minds and take names, and link to a few ingredients/tips in the recipe below. But know that regular supermarket brands or generics will of course work just fine.
Note that I beat the vanilla extract in at the beginning, with the butter and sugars–I find that beating the flavoring in with the fat in the recipe helps the vanilla to really permeate the batter, bloom while baking, and because the fat sort of helps to encapsulate the flavor, it tends to bake off less in the oven.
I usually make a full batch of dough, bake one or two sheets’ worth, and then scoop out the rest of the dough onto a baking sheet, freeze the dough balls until firm and then throw them into a large ziptop bag. Bake the cookies from their frozen state just a couple minutes longer than usual.
If you’re a crisp-edged cookie person, lean towards the longer baking time and an evenly golden look to the cookies. If you like a softer/chewier cookie, pull them earlier, when they’re still very soft and somewhat pale towards the centers. However, I find that the European-style butter makes these cookies fabulously tender no matter what end of the baking time spectrum you aim for, so if you like crisp cookies, then just go for the regular butter. Also, European-style butter tends to leave these cookies just a touch pale (though not unappetizingly so–just something to keep in mind when you’re checking for doneness).
3 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (I use King Arthur)
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt (fine sea salt, not kosher–get more info on salt in baking here)
1 cup (8 ounces European-style, or 2 sticks regular) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract (the good stuff, like Nielsen-Massey, Beanilla, or potent homemade vanilla extract)
2 large eggs
2 cups (at least) bittersweet chocolate chips (60 to 70% cacao–of course you can use milk or semisweet chips, or swap in some peanut butter or butterscotch chips, too)
Position oven racks to the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat it to 350 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
Into a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt.
In the bowl of an electric mixer on medium speed, beat together the butter, dark brown sugar, granulated sugar, and vanilla extract until light in color and fluffy like buttercream frosting, about 3 minutes. Reduce the speed to medium-low and beat in the eggs one at a time. Scrape down the bowl and beat one minute more to blend well. Reduce the speed to low and stir in the dry ingredients. When just a couple traces of flour remain, stir in the chocolate chips (or other chips) on low speed.
Using a small ice cream scoop with a 2-tablespoon capacity (or two spoons), portion the dough out onto the 2 baking sheets (I usually do 8-10 cookies per sheet to leave enough room for spreading since the cookies are on the bigger side). Bake until the cookies are golden brown at the edges and slightly soft in the centers, 13 to 15 minutes (see note for tips on baking times and finished texture of the cookies). Let the cookies cool on the baking sheets (just a few minutes before transferring to a cooling rack if you like crisp edges, or let them cool completely on the sheets for softer/chewier cookies). Repeat the scooping and baking process with the remaining dough. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.
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