Chocolate Chip Cookie Redux

Chocolate Chip Cookie Redux

Few American culinary inventions have been experimented on, analyzed, tested, and dissected more than the humble chocolate chip cookie. Myriad variations in recipe, presentation and technique have been exhaustively documented.

As a home cook I tend to be a traditionalist. So I call for a return to the recipe that started it all: the original Toll House Inn recipe for chocolate chip cookies.

Toll House Inn chocolate chip cookies (adapted)

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels

True chippers (chocolate chip cookie connoisseurs) will notice an exclusion. I have left out the 1 cup of chopped nuts. I don't like beans in my chili and I don't like nuts in my chocolate chip cookies. But that's just me.

First step is to cream the butter and sugar.

Tip #1. Consistency of the butter. The recipe calls for softened butter. How do you soften butter? I'll skip the no-nos (for the love of god don't put it in the microwave!), and just give this rule of thumb. Let it sit at room temperature until a finger pressed gently into it leaves an indentation. You can speed up the softening process by cutting the sticks of butter into chunks.

In a stand mixer, add butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla. Mix on medium-high for 5-6 minutes until light and creamy. This is the buttercream.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Redux

In a separate bowl sift together the dry ingredients: flour, baking soda and salt.

Tip #2. Use coarse salt. Most people don't realize one of the most important ingredients in a chocolate chip cookie is salt. Using coarse salt prevents the salt from being completely dissolved in the dough, leaving behind a few crystals that act as little savory land mines that add depth to the flavor and texture. If you want to get really fancy, use fleur de sel.

Lower the mixer speed and gradually add the eggs, followed by the dry ingredients. Add the chocolate morsels last.

Mix until well combined. Don't over-mix. Now for the most important tip of all.

Tip #3. Let the dough rest and cool for up to 36 hours. 36 hours!? Yeah I know it sucks but it's worth the wait (you can do it in as little as 12 hours). And if you want to reserve a few dough balls for immediate baking, hey I won't deduct any points.

Remove the mixing bowl, cover with plastic wrap and put in refrigerator for 12-36 hours. Basically the reason for doing this is to let the ingredients marry and soak each other up.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Redux

Fast forward 12-36 hours. OK, dough ready. Time to bake. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Let's put the dough balls on the baking sheet.

Some people like to use an ice cream scoop to create perfectly round and consistently sized dough balls. I'm not nearly that perfect (just ask my ex-girlfriends) so I just use a spoon to scrape out a spiky blob of cookie dough. The resulting cookies will be funkily shaped, but that's the way I like it. Bake for 9-11 minutes.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Redux

Tip #4. Look for a gradation of doneness. Dark and crunchy around the circumference, lighter and chewier toward the center. Remove from oven and slide off baking sheet immediately, otherwise they'll keep cooking.

Hardcore chippers will say you must wait for the cookies to cool completely to experience the optimal level of texture and flavor. But what do they know?

Chocolate Chip Cookie Redux

You and I know the best time to eat a made-from-scratch chocolate chip cookie is about 2 minutes after they leave the oven when they're still warm and gooey. Add a side of cold milk in a frosty glass and you'll think you were a VIP guest of the original Toll House Inn.

Do you have tips on how to bake the ultimate chocolate chip cookie? Where can you find the best chocolate chip cookie in Houston? Leave a comment and let us know.

---J.C. Reid

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