A few weeks ago, I received a review copy of Maida Heatter’s Cookies from the good folks at Andrew McMeel Publishing. The soft-covered tome contained an extensive collection of unique and homey recipes curated by Ms. Heatter, “the Julia Child of desserts.” Reading through hundreds of pages of delectable creations, I unsurprisingly developed an intense hankering for freshly baked chocolate chip cookies. I can be so very predictable sometimes.
Ironically, the cookie bible did not contain a single straightforward chocolate chip cookie recipe. I could’ve baked “Extra-Bittersweet Chocolate Chunk Monster Cookies” or “Key West Chocolate Treasures,” but I desired something simple and soulful, and no fancy substitute would do.
To cure my very specific cookie craving, I turned to an article published in the New York Times in 2008 about the quest for the “perfect” chocolate chip cookie. The promise of perfection motivated me to go through the trouble of procuring bread flour, bittersweet chocolate disks, and French sea salt. Not to mention, the dough needed to rest in the fridge for 36 hours. Though not technically difficult, it was easily the most high-maintenance cookie I’d ever attempted.
After everything was sifted, creamed, mixed, portioned and baked, I was left with a dozen and a half really amazing cookies. As promised, the exterior was golden and crisp, while the interior was slightly gooey and stratified with chocolate. The flakes of salt atop each cookie kept the sweetness in check and added depth of flavor. It was the most perfect chocolate chip cookie I’d ever eaten.
- 2 cups minus 2 tablespoons (8 1/2 ounces) cake flour
- 1 2/3 cups (8 1/2 ounces) bread flour
- 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
- 2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter
- 1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) light brown sugar
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (8 ounces) granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract
- 1 1/4 pounds bittersweet chocolate disks or fèves, at least 60 percent cacao content
- Sea salt
Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Set aside.
Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars together until very light, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. Reduce speed to low, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds.
Drop chocolate pieces in and incorporate them without breaking them. Press plastic wrap against dough and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours. Dough may be used in batches, and can be refrigerated for up to 72 hours.
When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Set aside.
Using a kitchen scale, scoop 6 3.5-ounce mounds of dough onto baking sheet. Make sure to turn horizontally any chocolate pieces that are poking up; it will make for a more attractive cookie. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and bake until golden brown but still soft, 18 to 20 minutes.
Transfer sheet to a wire rack for 10 minutes, then slip cookies onto another rack to cool a bit more. Repeat with remaining dough, or reserve dough, refrigerated, for baking remaining batches the next day. Eat warm, with a big napkin.
Makes 1 1/2 dozen 5-inch cookies.