Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Anticipating Santa: Chocolate Chip Cookies

Tis the season: for cookies!
Chocolate chip cookies, even from a store bought tube of dough, are delicious. They're welcome at any party, and they're a reminder of good memories from home. Or reminders of Santa Claus. Or reminders of basically anything wintery, warm, and reminiscent of wonderful smells that can and have wafted from one's oven. I went on a little cookie bend the other day, searching out the best recipe for chocolate chip cookies. And boy oh boy did epicurious deliver on this one.
Consistency perfection
This recipe from Gourmet (RIP) is the best recipe for chocolate chip cookies that I've ever made and subsequently consumed in a big way. It was pretty darn easy to prepare, all thanks to my measure before hand system. If you measure out all your ingredients, separated in steps before hand (ex. put all of your sifted dry ingredients together in one bowl before you add anything else) making anything gets about 50% easier. Organization and preparation is so key. Plus, it makes everything less devoid of frantic "where the hell is the baking soda because the eggs are whipping too long"moments. So, sift together your dry ingredients, follow the instructions to beat together your wet, and then combine on slow speed, adding your precious chocolate chip morsels at the very end. I know you're not supposed to eat raw cookie dough, but if you trust your eggs, I promise you it's a very tasty, slightly salty batter.
Ready to bake
A few minutes later, on individual baking sheets with parchment-lined paper, the cookie dough was spooned in large lumps, a little less than 1/4 cup each and separated by approximately three inches of space. (Take care to separate them quite a bit because they will spread and flatten out more than the small, preformed cookie dough cylinders that you buy from the store.) The recipe also instructed to flatten each mound with the palm of ones hand so that it's about an inch thick, and maybe two to three inches in diameter. You know that they're going to be big cookies. And in this case, go big, you've got January through May to look hot in a bikini again. Plus, people tend to feel more loved with big honkin' cookies... just sayin'. 
Chocolate chip cookie glory
Thirteen minutes into the oven and each cookie had spread out, revealing crispy golden brown edges, and a soft, chewy center. They're lovely and large, picture perfect cookies. But none of this compares to the initial and flowing aroma escaping the oven, baked brown sugar goodness, and then the incredible sweet flavor that emerges from the first warm, soft bite. These cookies are soft, buttery and chewy. They're somewhat molasses tangy as a result of the abundant use of brown sugar, and also have that lovely occasional kick of salt, appeasing my need for salty-sweet treats. Don't forget those chocolate chips... still melty in the middle. 
I baked over two dozen cookies, and truth be told, there's not a single one left sitting on the counter. This recipe is a winner, and I implore you to give it a try.


3 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
3 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
2 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips (16 ounces)

Recipe from Epicurious:

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 375°F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment or wax paper.
Whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt in a small bowl.
Beat together butter and sugars in a large bowl with an electric mixer at high speed until pale and fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes. Lightly beat 1 egg with a fork in a small bowl and add 1 3/4 tablespoons of it plus 2 remaining whole eggs to butter mixture, beating with mixer until creamy, about 1 minute. Beat in vanilla. Reduce speed to low and mix in flour mixture until just blended, then stir in chips.
Scoop 1/4 cup batter for each cookie, arranging mounds 3 inches apart, on 2 baking sheets. Flatten mounds into 3-inch rounds using moistened palm of your hand. Form remaining cookies on additional sheets of parchment.
Bake, 1 sheet at a time, until golden, 13 to 15 minutes. Transfer cookies to a rack to cool and continue making cookies in same manner using cooled baking sheets.

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