Category: Weekly Treat

Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies

June 16, 2010

We food bloggers can be a bossy group.  You see a lot of “You have to try this!” and “This is the best (fill in the blank) recipe out there!  Throw away any other version!”.  We feel strongly about food and when we find something we like, we want to share.  I come by my bossiness naturally.  I am an oldest child and a Leo.  I have almost 40 years experience telling people what to do.

I like to think that I am not overly bossy on my site.  (Please let me know if you feel otherwise.)  I fully appreciate that taste is completely individual and something I love might be something you hate.  We all have different opinions about what is delicious and I respect that you might hate chocolate and french fries (although I will never never understand it).

It is with restraint and respect that I tell you that I have found the last chocolate chip cookie recipe I will ever need.  What I want to do is to type in all caps and tell you that you have found the last chocolate chip cookie recipe you will ever need…but I am holding my inner boss in check.  I respect that you might have a much beloved recipe that you will never part with.  But it is my duty as a food blogger to share my treasure.

I  never really gave much thought to chocolate chip cookies until the New York Times recipe came along several years ago.  Periodically I would see recipes in books and wonder why anyone would stray from the good old Tollhouse recipe.  When all the hubbub died down, I made the NYT recipe and understood that a chocolate cookie is capable of subtlety and there was a difference when you used different kinds of flour, used chocolate disks instead of chips, and let the dough rest at least overnight.  I made them again and again and thought I had found my until-the-end-of-time cookie recipe.

And then, just a few weeks ago, Ashley’s recipe came into my life.  You know Ashley, right?  If you don’t, you should.  This very sweet very young woman is very accomplished and a very very good cook and baker.  She teaches wonderful classes that happen to take place right next door to my house.  I have taken a few and I look forward to taking more.  I am a good cook and baker but I have learned some great things from her.  Like how to make a perfect chocolate chip cookie.

What makes them so special?  Three different kinds of sugar.  A long creaming time.  A lot of chocolate.  A little trick with adding the flour and chocolate pieces to prevent over mixing.  I don’t know.  I asked her what she thought made them so special and she answered, “It’s just all those things together”.  All right whatever, cookie genius.  What I do know is that these cookies turn out perfectly round (every single one of them!), they have loads of chocolate and no nuts (a big plus for me), and they are that perfect combination of crisp exterior and chewy interior.  They also have a sprinkling of sea salt on the top of each one which makes them irresistable.

I also asked Ashley about the let-the-dough-rest theory.  She said her cookies are in fact even better (is that possible?) if you refrigerate the dough for 24 hours.  When I told her that I found refrigerated dough kind of a pain to scoop, she said that she turns the dough out and forms it into a log.  Then she slices and bakes.  Cookie genius indeed.

UPDATE 4-12-11 I have been making loads of these cookies and I think I have found the best way.  Make the dough as directed below.  Then split the dough into quarters.  Roll each quarter into a log about 10 inches long.  Wrap well in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 24 hours.  Then cut the logs into ¼-inch slices and bake.  I can get about 50 smaller cookies when made this way.

One Year Ago:  White Chocolate Almond Chunk Cookies
Two Years Ago:  Feta and Ricotta Cheese Skillet Pie

Ashley’s Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies
Not Without Salt
Makes about 2 dozen

I have made no changes to the original recipe but have clarified a bit, with Ashley’s blessing.  I used bittersweet chocolate for my cookies but semi-sweet would be great too.

2 sticks (8 oz.) unsalted butter, softened
¼ cup granulated sugar
¼ cup Turbinado sugar
1¾ cup light brown sugar, packed
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
3½ cups all-purpose flour
1½ tsp. baking soda
¾ tsp. salt
12 oz. chocolate (use the best quality chocolate you can afford.  With a serrated knife, cut chocolate into roughly ½-inch chunks.)
Sea salt

Preheat the oven to 360ºF.  Set rack in the middle of the oven.

Cream the butter and the sugars on medium-high speed until light, 4-5 minutes.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl a couple of times during this process.  Continue mixing while adding the eggs one at a time.  Make sure each egg is incorporated before adding the next.  Add the vanilla.  Scrape down the bowl with a spatula.  Combine the flour, soda and salt in another bowl.  Mix with a whisk.  With the machine on low, slowly add almost all the flour.  Reserve just a bit of the mixture.  Remove the bowl from the mixer and add the last bit of flour along with the chocolate.  Stir with a spatula until just combined.

Using a large ice cream scoop, scoop out mounds of dough making sure there is about 2 inches between each cookie.  Do not crowd them and there is no need to press the dough down.  Sprinkle each mound with a bit of sea salt.

Bake sheets, one at time, until the cookies are lightly golden on the edges and a bit gooey in the center, about 12 minutes.  Do not overbake!  Remove sheet from oven and allow to sit undisturbed for two minutes.  Then carefully transfer cookies to a cooling rack.  Repeat with the remaining sheets.

(DT: I have a convection feature on my oven and was able to successfully bake three sheets at a time.  If you do not have convection, I would highly recommend just doing one sheet at a time.)

Cowgirl Cookies

November 5, 2008

If you are a frequent reader of food blogs, you will often see sentences along the lines of this…

“You have got to make this.”
“Stop what you are doing and make this.”

“It is imperative that you make this.”

“This is the best (fill in the blank) you will ever eat, so make this.”

I have to admit, the rebel in me immediately decides, no I’m not going to make this. Maybe I would have if you hadn’t insisted, but now that you did I won’t. So there.

Keeping the above sentiment in mind, I am going to try and not use any of the example sentences on my blog…after today. These cookies? I would very strongly suggest that you make them very soon. I realize they don’t look like much and truly the ingredients aren’t all that sexy, but somehow through the magic of baking, they turn out to be the most perfect mouthful of deliciousness. Oats, cashews, and butterscotch chips – certainly not what I would pick in my ideal cookie (there would be lots of chocolate in that one), but every single person I have made these for goes crazy over them.

I don’t know how these Cowgirl Cookies got their name, but they are from the most delightful cookbook. I have waxed poetic about Holly B’s Bakery before here and I just have to say again what a magical place that bakery is. It is tiny and perfect. You walk in and will, without a doubt, want to try everything. Not just try but “eat it all up like cookie monster”, as my older son is currently fond of saying. I have owned her cookbook for years and treasure it as much for the stories about her family and life on Lopez Island as I do for the amazing recipes.

On the ferry to Lopez last summer, I realized that we were parked right next to Holly as I was trying to wrestle my baby out of his car seat. She gazed at me with that wistful look of a mom of boys whose boys are grown.
“Your boys are beautiful,” she said, “I have three of my own.”

“Oh, I know,” I said. “I have read and re-read your cookbook from cover to cover.”

She seemed really happy about that.

Cowgirl Cookies
Adapted from
With Love and Butter
Makes approximately 4 dozen cookies

This recipe calls for raw cashews which are unsalted and unroasted. They can be a little hard to find (Whole Foods and natural food stores carry them). Because I didn’t have them this time, I just used the roasted, salted ones I had on hand and didn’t add any additional salt. I also chopped them into small pieces rather than leaving them in half.

1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup brown sugar, firmly packed

cup granulated sugar
2 eggs

1 tsp. vanilla extract

2 cups flour

tsp. baking soda
tsp. baking powder
tsp. salt
1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1/2 cups butterscotch chips
1 cup raw cashew halves

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees with the rack in the center position.

Cream the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar together with an electric mixer. Add the eggs and vanilla, mix, then add the flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Combine thoroughly. Stir in the oats, butterscotch chips, and cashews by hand.

Using a small ice cream scoop or a tablespoon, drop the dough onto the cookie sheets, 1 inch apart. Flatten each cookie slightly with your thumb. Bake 5 minutes, rotate the pan, and continue baking 4-5 minutes. The cookies are done when caramel-brown around the edges. Cool on a wire rack and store in an airtight container.

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