Sometimes I like to think of myself as on a quest, mostly because it’s fantastic imagery. I picture myself with a band of merry men (or women, as it were), riding horseback through the countryside. There’s a minstrel and shit. And we’re looking for the holy grail or the fountain of youth or the lost ruins of whatever, which in this case is the perfect chocolate chip cookie.
And through it all–heat, snow, rain, heartbreak, breakdowns, transcendence, monotony, fatigue, tragedy, injury, joyousness, ennui–we keep searching. We never give up. It’s a higher calling. We’re on a mission from god(s).
Maybe it’s also because I like the idea of my life having some sort of meaning. In this case, the role of “meaning” is to be played by “chocolate chip cookies.” But you get the idea. It’s comforting sometimes, to pretend that we were put on this earth to do something. And maybe that something is completely ridiculous, like finding the best recipe of all the chocolate chip recipes on the planet. Maybe you, reader, maybe you’re meant to discover a specific rock on a specific beach that looks like a walrus. Maybe you’re meant to meet a man in Nashville with acorn cufflinks who will tell you something that makes you understand everything. Maybe you’re meant to discover that a specific constellation looks like your grandfather’s nose and eyeglasses. Maybe you’re meant to find a note on the ground that causes you to uproot your life and become an apple farmer. Maybe you’re meant to sing at an open mic night and, through your voice and lyrics, cause someone else to decide to get the love of their life back. I don’t know, dudes. I don’t even pretend to know.
What I do know is that I’m not ready to give up the quest. And that goes double for chocolate chip cookies. Are these the perfect ones? I don’t know. They are really very incredible cookies. But are these the ONES? Is this IT? I guess I’ll have to make them all to find out. That, my friends. That is ok by me.
Chocolate Chip Cookies
adapted from Jaques Torres in the NYT
2 cups minus 2 tablespoons (8 1/2 oz) cake flour
1 2/3 cups (8 1/2 oz) 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 (confession: i only used 2 sticks. and i think these cookies were exceedingly buttery with just 2 sticks. if you want to go 2 1/2, go wild. but i’m not sure it’s necessary)
1 1/4 cups (10 oz) light brown sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (8 oz) 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 (i used milk chocolate chips–they were specifically requested by my coworker, whose birthday it was, for whom these cookies were made)
1. Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Set aside.
2. 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 try to 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.]
3. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Set aside.
4. Scoop 6 3 1/2-ounce mounds of dough (the size of generous golf balls) onto baking sheet, making sure to turn horizontally anychocolate 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.