To Conquer the Cookie

Growing up, my mother always seemed to bake the most perfect chocolate chip cookies.  I used to think her success was genetic, as my grandmother’s chocolate chip cookies were nothing short of life-changing.  Oh, how wrong I was when I tried to follow in their culinary footsteps.  I absolutely could not bake a decent chocolate chip cookie.

For quite some time, I avoided said cookie at all costs.  I knew inevitably they would be terrible.  They would either spread over the entire surface of the baking sheet or they would cool on the counter into chocolate chip hockey pucks.  Neither option was desirable, to say the least.

No amount of milk could save my cookies.

Then one day, as I was flipping through an old issue of Cook’s Illustrated magazine (the best magazine ever, basically) I came across a recipe entitled “Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies.”  I thought to myself, “Sara, don’t even bother.  You’ll screw it up and they will be far from perfect.  Just put the magazine down and walk away.”

Normally, I try to listen to my own advice, but this time, I pushed my hesitation and doubt aside and dove right into the recipe.  What could possibly go wrong?

Absolutely nothing.  NOTHING went wrong.  They, in fact, were perfect.  And here’s why:

According to Cook’s Illustrated, the use of brown butter, more brown sugar, and an extra egg yolk were what my cookies were missing all along!  And boy, were they right.

Now, get in that kitchen and bake some cookies!

Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies
Loosely adapted from Cook’s Illustrated

Makes 16 cookies

Ingredients:

1 3/4 cups (8 3/4 ounces) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
14 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 3/4 sticks)
1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
3/4 cup (5 1/4 ounces) packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

Method:

Adjust oven rack to middle position and preheat oven to 375ºF.  Line 2 large (18- by 12-inch) baking sheets with parchment paper.  Whisk flour and baking soda together in medium bowl; set aside.

Heat 10 tablespoons butter in 10-inch skillet (not non-stick) over medium-high heat until melted, about 2 minutes.  Continue cooking, swirling pan constantly until butter is dark golden brown and has a nutty aroma, 1 to 3 minutes.  Be very careful not to let it burn and get black.  Keep your eye on it!

Remove pan from heat and, using a heatproof spatula, transfer browned butter to the bowl of your stand mixer.  If you don’t have a stand mixer, just transfer browned butter to large, heatproof bowl.  Stir in remaining 4 tablespoons butter into hot butter until completely melted.

Add both sugars, salt, and vanilla to bowl with butter and whisk until fully incorporated.  Add egg and yolk and whisk until mixture is smooth with no sugar lumps remaining, about 30 seconds.

Let mixture stand 3 minutes, then whisk for 30 seconds.  Repeat process of resting and whisking 2 more times until mixture is thick, smooth, and shiny.  Using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, stir in flour mixture until just combined, about 1 minute.  Stir in chocolate chips, giving dough a final stir to ensure no flour pockets remain.

Divide dough into 16 portions, each about 3 tablespoons (or use #24 cookie/ice cream scoop).  Arrange 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets, 8 dough balls per sheet.

Bake cookies 1 tray at a time until cookies are golden brown and still puffy, and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft, about 12 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking.

Transfer baking sheet to wire rack; cool cookies completely before serving.

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