Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies

perfect chocolate chip cookies
It should come as no surprise that these cookies are featured in my first blog post. These are the cookies that I have been making for years, regularly and often, sometimes for myself and sometimes to fill requests from friends and family members. This is a recipe that I swear by. Sometimes I even keep a little extra cookie dough in the freezer, for those chocolate-chip-cookie-craving emergencies.

This recipe is from Cook’s Illustrated, and the title is theirs: “Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies.” And, if you ask me, they are.

Browned butter brings depth of flavor to these cookies. The aroma alone is incredible. The dough is sweet, but balanced by a touch of salt and high-quality semisweet chocolate chips. And while the recipe may have a few more steps than the typical cookie, the ingredients are ones you’ll probably have at home, and the few extra minutes of work are worth it.

Last weekend, the Bay Area was hit with some pouring rain. Rain was much-needed after months of drought, but after a few days of drizzle, the gloom set in. This was the view from my kitchen window:
rainy northern california weather

To make the most of the weather, I went on a rainy-day walk. These cookies made the perfect snack after. I mailed a few to my little sister for Valentine’s Day, and she loved them, too.

The recipe looks complicated, and can be a little confusing the first time you make it. The butter must be browned, the eggs whisked in not once, but thrice. You might miss a step. You might let your butter burn a little. Don’t worry about it. Push on. The cookies will probably be delicious anyway. And by the second batch, you’ll be a pro.

These cookies begin with the browning of ten tablespoons of butter. You drop the butter into a pan, let it melt, and swirl it around for a couple of minutes until it turns golden and develops an intoxicating nutty aroma. Then you transfer it to a bowl and drop in another knob of butter— four tablespoons this time.
If you’ve done it right, it should look like this:
browned butter
See the brown bits under the foam? That’s what your looking for. You know your butter is browned when you see that color at the bottom of the pan. Don’t wait for the foam at the top of the pan to brown, because when that happens, the delicious milk solids at the bottom will have burned.
Adding cold butter to the already hot, brown stuff may cause it to bubble like crazy. I’ll often drop the rest of my butter directly into the pan, and then this happens. Foaming everywhere. It’s kind of fun to watch.
brown sugar, white sugar, vanilla.
Then you’ll whisk together your sugars, salt, and vanilla with the browned butter. Add the egg and egg yolk. Whisk. Rest. Whisk. Rest. Whisk. Rest. Whisk one last time.
Your syrupy, toffee-colored mixture will turn into this:
My kitchen was a little cold, so the butter hardened. Your mixture might be a little more syrupy.
Add flour, baking soda, and chocolate chips. I like Guittard, but any regular old chocolate chip will do.
cookie dough
Roll your dough into tablespoon-sized balls. Cook’s Illustrated recommends a larger cookie for crispy edges and a chewy center. I hardly ever bake them that big– it seems so decadent to me. I find that a more modestly-sized cookie still has great texture, but makes for easier baking, eating, and sharing.
cookie dough balls on baking sheet
Pop the cookies into the oven. Check on them at eight minutes, then every couple of minutes after that. You want your cookies to come out of the oven golden.
freshly baked cookies
And when you’re done, you’ll have a very messy work surface. But also some very delicious cookies.
cookies... and a mess.
Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies
From Cook’s Illustrated & America’s Test Kitchen
makes 16 large cookies, or 3-4 dozen smaller cookies
1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
14 tablespoons (1 3/4 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 1/2 cups bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Whisk together flour and baking soda in a medium-sized bowl. Set aside.
  2. Heat 10 tablespoons of butter in a 10-inch stainless steel skillet over medium heat until melted, about 2 minutes. Swirl the pan over heat, until the butter at the bottom of the pan is dark brown and has a nutty aroma, about 1-3  minutes. Remove skillet from heat. Transfer the browned butter to a large heatproof bowl and add the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter. Stir until completely melted.
  3. Add both sugars, salt, and vanilla to the bowl with the butter. Whisk until fully incorporated. Add the egg and egg yolk. Whisk until the mixture is smooth with no lumps, about 30 seconds. Let the mixture stand for 3 minutes, then whisk for 30 seconds. Repeat the process of resting and whisking two more times. The mixture will be smooth, thick and shiny. Use a rubber spatula or wooden spoon to stir in the flour mixture until just combined. Fold in the chocolate chips.
  4. Roll cookie dough into balls. Cook’s Illustrated recommends large, 3 tablespoon (#24 cookie scoop) balls for giant cookies with crispy edges and tender middles. Use smaller 1-2 tablespoon balls for small cookies. Place them on the prepared baking sheet 2 inches apart.
  5. Bake cookies 1 tray at a time, in center of oven. Bake 10-14 minutes, until cookies are golden but still puffy, and edges have begun to set but centers are soft. Baking time will vary with size of cookie. Allow to cool before serving.

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