Thursday, June 27, 2013

The BEST Chocolate Chip Cookies EVER

It's been awhile hasn't it? Sorry. Life...laziness get's in the way a lot.

I have been busy, don't you worry. Let's see. I've been getting things organized for next school year's dance team and color guard, I'm still teaching preschool yoga and dance classes, Nissa and I have been baking our butts off--we had three graduation orders for the same day, 240 cookies and 120 cake pops--I got a new job at Michael's, aaaaannnd I think that's it! Busy busy right?

Well I have sweet post for you today! The title does not lie. These are the greatest cookies I've ever made/tasted. I've been making them for about a year now, and I have FINALLY gotten them to perfection.

The recipe is actually from the great Jacque Torres (don't know him? Look him up. Greatness). The recipe is a bit complex but totally worth it. It also makes a TON of cookies. If you use a small disher it makes about 100 cookies. Now I know what you're thinking. What in God's name am I going to do with 100 of the BEST chocolate chip cookies EVER? Well I'll tell you. You're going to eat them, and you're going to enjoy every damn minute of it. Are we all in agreement? Okay, moving on.

The recipe calls for things like cake flour and bread flour and special kinds of chocolate, and you can totally substitute all purpose flour and Nestle chocolate chips, but it will not be the same cookie. You kind of have to prepare your day knowing that these cookies take time if you want them done well. I'm this way with all recipes. If I feel like I'm going to be rushed to make something, I won't make it. It always turns out poorly. Patience is something you should have a lot of when baking.

So here we go!

As Ree Drummond, my favorite Food Network cook/blogger, says: here's our cast of characters!

2 cups minus 2 tablespoons cake flour

1 2/3 cups bread flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt

2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter, room temperature--take the time to do this, it needs to be soft

1 1/4 cups light brown sugar, packed

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

2 large eggs, room temperature

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 1/3 pounds chocolate--I use Baker's, Guittard, and Ghirardelli
Sea salt for sprinkling

One of the great things about this recipe is that you can find all of these ingredients at Walmart. Cake flour was something I thought I'd have to order online or something, but it's totally at Walmart! All of the chocolate is there too. If you can afford to shell out a little extra for the Guittard and Ghirardelli do it. Like I'll keep saying, it's totally worth it.

Okay, first step is to sift all of the dry ingredients into a large bowl and set aside.

Next we cream the butter and both sugars together. This is where I think a lot of people skimp in their cookie making; I know I did. A lot of baking recipes will state that you should cream the butter and sugar together until light and fluffy. This stage should take 3-5 minutes. I don't think I ever beat my butter and sugar together that long, but it is crucial that you do. Creaming creates air bubbles so the cookies will be lighter and rise more evenly.

This is where most people would stop in the creaming process:

I would totally say this is light and fluffy, but you'll see the difference between this and properly creamed butter and sugar in a minute. You can't exactly over mix in this step. The butter could separate, but you'd reeeeaaaaallllly have to beat it. The only stage in baking where you can over mix is when you add the flour, but we'll get to that later. Here's what properly creamed butter and sugar looks like:

The mixture will have grown in size a bit, and if you stir it, you won't feel as much grittiness from the sugar.

Once you've creamed the butter and sugars add the eggs one at a time. After each egg is beaten in, scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Then add the vanilla. Mix that all together until everything is evenly incorporated.

Creamy, light, and fluffy. Onward!

Here's where I got a little anal about the recipe. All you have to do is gradually add the dry ingredients and mix until it's JUST incorporated. However, I wanted to NAIL this recipe. So I sifted the dry ingredients AGAIN into the creamed mixture instead of just dumping it in.

By no means is this step necessary. I just wanted to get a really smooth dough.

Here's where I said you could potentially over mix your dough. Mix the dry ingredients into the wet until you almost can't see the flour. I stop mixing by machine (hand held or stand) when I can just see ribbons of flour in the dough, then I mix the rest by hand.

It's a little hard to see, but flour is still dusting the dough.

When flour is added to wet ingredients, gluten is created. This is what gives baked goods their structure. If gluten is over mixed it becomes tough. No one likes a tough cookie. ;-]

Next it's time for the chocolate!!!!!! Here's the types and amounts I use:

5oz of Baker's Semi-Sweet baking squares
One 10oz bag of Ghirardelli 60% cacao chips
Half a 11.5oz bag of Guittard milk chocolate chips

Chop all of these up and throw them in the batter!

The 60% cacao chips are a little big for my liking. I thought they were smaller so I just dumped the bag in, oops. I'd chop them smaller next time, but bigger chunks never hurt a cookie at least.

Mix the chips in gently by hand. In a Kitchenaid bowl this got a little tough on the wrist, but I have tendinitis so I have a bit of a handicap when mixing. Anywho, you can transfer the dough to a larger bowl if you need to. Make sure it's all evenly incorporated! You want chips in every bite!

Speaking of chips!!! I totally fooled you! You thought this was just going to be a normal chocolate chip recipe didn't you! Well I have a surprise for you!

We're going to try a new addition to the BEST chocolate chip cookies EVER.

I LOVE sweet and salty. If you aren't a fan, then scroll down until you see the Tower of Pisa :-]

Kettle chips are by far my favorite kind of chip. So thick, so crunchy, so salty, SO GOOD! These potato chips are really dangerous. My mom and I actually don't allow ourselves to buy them because we can eat the whole bag in one sitting. I thought that buying them would be okay this time because I wouldn't eat them all in one sitting. In this instance, half of the bag was...going in...a cookie...anyway...

I split my batter in half...ish..and mixed in crushed up potato chips until it looked like I had enough. Next time I'll definitely add more, and I think I'll put whole chips in and let the mixing process crush them. The finished product didn't have as much saltiness as I would have like.

A shameless plug of my trip to Italy :-]

For those of you who would only like sweet cookies, welcome back!

After mixing in our chips, chocolate or otherwise, it's time to wrap the dough and refrigerate. This step really is necessary. It allows the gluten in the dough to relax a bit. We don't want that gluten to get overworked! No tough cookies!!!

I let my dough sit in the fridge for about an hour. If it gets too cold it's really difficult to scoop it.

It's time for my favorite tool! The disher! I used a #50 for these cookies, but use whatever size you'd like. Like I said, with a tiny disher you'll get about 100 cookies. With the #50 I got 78.

I had no idea where the number was until now.

Scoop out the dough onto a cookie sheet but don't press them down. Let them stay in little mounds. You can sprinkle the cookies with a little sea salt if you'd like, but that can definitely be omitted.

Bake at 350 for 10 minutes! If you've made your cookies larger, then just add a few more minutes of baking.

Delicious! Loaded with chocolate (and potato chips!), ooey and gooey, what more could you ask for in the BEST chocolate chip cookie EVER? Not much. Enjoy responsibly!

The BEST Chocolate Chip Cookies EVER
2 cups minus 2 tablespoons cake flour

1 2/3 cups bread flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt

2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter, room temperature

1 1/4 cups light brown sugar, packed

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

2 large eggs, room temperature

2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1 1/3 pounds chocolate

sea salt or fleur de sel, for sprinkling

1. Sift together the cake flour, bread flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a medium sized bowl and set aside.

2. In the bowl of your mixer, cream together your butter and sugars until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. Add in the eggs, one at a time, until combined, scraping down the bowl as needed. Add in the vanilla and mix.

3.Gradually add in the dry ingredients, until just moistened. Fold in your chocolate until evenly added throughout the dough. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about an hour.

4. When you are ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350. Scoop the dough onto a baking sheet. Do not press the dough down – let it stay the way it is. Sprinkle the cookies lightly with a bit of fleur de sel or sea salt. Bake 10-12 minutes for smaller cookies (mine took about 11 minutes), or 18-20 minutes for larger cookies.

5. Allow the cookies to cool slightly on your baking sheet, then move them to another surface to cool completely. You can enjoy these warm, room temperature, or cold. Store in an air-tight container at room temperature for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to 2 months.

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