Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies

There is a chocolate chip cookie recipe from Cooks Illustrated that I've wanted to make for ages.  Since today was a snow day, I decided to indulge myself.  So, after shoveling for an hour or so and then cleaning the kitchen, it was cookie time.

The reason I hadn't ever made this specific recipe before is because you have to brown the butter and I am afraid of browning butter.  I've done it a few times, for the caramel ice cream cake and brown sugar cookies  and every time I feel like I am doing something wrong.  For the ice cream cake, I am pretty sure I burnt the butter, the cookies, I think I didn't brown it enough. It was enough to keep me away from anything involving browning and butter, but I put my fear aside today and went for it.

To be honest, I have no idea if I did it right, the butter didn't really seem brown, but the cookies came out incredibly.  They are big and gooey and filled with chocolate and have that toffee-ish flavor, just like the recipe said they would.  I did a few things differently (because it wouldn't be me if I hadn't).  I didn't have dark brown sugar, so I used light brown and molasses (ratio 1 cup light brown sugar:1 tablespoon molasses - thank you to my wonderful brother and sister-in-law for the substitutions bible).    I always like the flavor a little better when I use molasses instead of brown sugar because it tastes a little more smokey.  And adding the chocolate chips worked out very well.  I also added another half cup of chocolate chips because I wasn't adding nuts.  I ended up with 18 cookies instead of 16 because my cookie sheets were smaller, so I did three batches.

In conclusion, these cookies were intimidating to make, but if the rest of them are anything like the one I ate 12 seconds after it came out of the oven, they were totally worth the trouble.  Now I need to get them out of the house so I can continue to be able to button my pants.

Recipe below the pictures.


Makes 16 cookies.   Published May 1, 2009.   From Cook's Illustrated.
Avoid using a nonstick skillet to brown the butter; the dark color of the nonstick coating makes it difficult to gauge when the butter is browned. Use fresh, moist brown sugar instead of hardened brown sugar, which will make the cookies dry. This recipe works with light brown sugar, but the cookies will be less full-flavored. For our winning brand of chocolate chips, see related tasting.


1 3/4cups unbleached all-purpose flour (8 3/4 ounces)
1/2teaspoon baking soda
14tablespoons unsalted butter (1 3/4 sticks)
1/2cup granulated sugar (3 1/2 ounces)
3/4cups packed dark brown sugar (5 1/4 ounces) (see note)
1teaspoon table salt
2teaspoons vanilla extract
1large egg
1large egg yolk
1 1/4cups semisweet chocolate chips or chunks (see note)
3/4cup chopped pecans or walnuts, toasted (optional)


  1. 1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 large (18- by 12-inch) baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk flour and baking soda together in medium bowl; set aside.
  2. 2. Heat 10 tablespoons butter in 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat until melted, about 2 minutes. Continue cooking, swirling pan constantly until butter is dark golden brown and has nutty aroma, 1 to 3 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and, using heatproof spatula, transfer browned butter to large heatproof bowl. Stir remaining 4 tablespoons butter into hot butter until completely melted.
  3. 3. 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 rubber spatula or wooden spoon, stir in flour mixture until just combined, about 1 minute. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts (if using), giving dough final stir to ensure no flour pockets remain.
  4. 4. Divide dough into 16 portions, each about 3 tablespoons (or use #24 cookie scoop). Arrange 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets, 8 dough balls per sheet. (Smaller baking sheets can be used, but will require 3 batches.)
  5. 5. 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, 10 to 14 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking. Transfer baking sheet to wire rack; cool cookies completely before serving.

The Coconut Chicken Skewers

It's been a little bit since I last posted, and it's not that I haven't been cooking, it's just that I having been documenting as well as I should have.   For example, I made chocolate mint brownies and peanut butter M&M cookies for New Year's Eve, but I didn't take any pictures of them.  And I made Vanilla Cupcakes with Chai Frosting for a coworker's birthday, but I didn't take any pictures of those either.  I also recently made Pumpkin Gnocchi from scratch, with Arugula Pistachio Pesto, and didn't take any pictures of that.  There's some of that left in the freezer though, so there's still a potential for pictures there.

Something I did take pictures of recently though, were the Coconut Chicken Skewers.  I had these at a restaurant a few weekends ago while watching the Pats beat the Dolphins.  They were called Tropical Skewers and described as, "chicken tenders coated with shredded coconut and panko breadcrumbs, fried to a golden brown and served with a pineapple curry sauce and fruit salsa."  They were incredible.  Being that they were incredible, I, of course, had to attempt to recreate them on my own.  And of course, since I was making them at home, I had to make the healthy version.  Because I have issues.  We've discussed this.

I  breaded the chicken tenders in panko and coconut and baked them in the oven for a while.  I also made a salsa from red pepper, pineapple, jalapeno, mandarin oranges and coconut, as well as a hot sauce from rooster sauce and something else, maybe orange juice (my birthday's in a few weeks, obviously the mind's going).

It all was very tasty, and the colors were pretty for this time of year.  But they weren't anywhere nearly as good as the ones at the restaurant.  I am not really all that surprised; it's hard to recreated dried goodness with oven baked-ness, but it was worth a shot.  I would definitely make them again.