Although I made these a few weeks ago now, I decided to post this today because I think it is the type of day where a good chocolate chip cookie is in order. Today I feel sad, lonely, and tired. Today is the kind of day where I just want to curl up with a blanket on a comfy couch, and not really talk about much. Today I took my boyfriend to the airport to fly back to Norway. Now lets be real here, I want you to eat this cookie, and love this cookie (because I did), so do not fear: I will not bemoan you with my feelings of depression or the fleeting, strange sensation that I get when I remember he isn't in the apartment anymore... No, no. But suffice it to say, that today is definitely a chocolate-cookie-kind-of-day.
Because a good chocolate cookie is warm and comforting; really, it is like the food incarnation of a big tight hug, where you never want to let go.
I know you are waiting for me to say that this is my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe, and that I have been making it since childhood. Because everyone has a go-to chocolate chip cookie recipe, right? Well, I certainly remember making loads of cookies, and I think we used the Toll House Recipe. To be honest though, I have my fondest memories of heading down to the freezer in our basement, and sneaking prepared cookie-dough that we had gotten from the store. There was a big tub of it in the freezer, which was perfect for sly snacking.
(If you ask my mom, she will tell you a story about when I came up from the basement one morning - yes I was eating cookie dough in the morning - and she accused me of having my hand in the cookie "jar." Of course, I denied it up and down like a good little girl. I thought I had gotten away with the crime until she pointed out a piece of dough that had gone awry and affixed itself to the front of my shirt. Ah, caught red-handed, moms notice everything!)
The short of the story is that I don't have one of those amazing chocolate chip cookie recipes in my arsenal. So I planned to go in search of one! I will probably try out several different recipes, and post the results of my trials and tweakings here.
The first one I decided to try was from Jacques Torres, the renowned pastry chef and chocolatier. He serves a version of these cookies at his store/factory, Jacques Torres Chocololate, where his customers can get a 5-6 inch cookie that has been heated up on a warming tray before being served. That means you can get a cookie that is gooey and warm every single minute of the day. Sound like heaven?
I found the recipe for his cookies in a New York Times article from 2008. The authors of this article were also in search of the perfect chocolate cookie and so they interviewed prominent bakers and chefs, Jacques Torres included. One major secret that all the bakers agreed upon was that the dough should rest for at least 24-36 hours before baking. Now I know, that means you must be patient in order to get these delicious morsels, and I will freely admit that patience is not one of my virtues. But letting the dough rest overnight allows the dry ingredients to soak up the eggs, yielding a dough with a better consistency that bakes to a more chewy cookie. Trust me this is the truth.
In the article Torres also points out that the size of the cookie is integral to achieving the perfect ratio of outer crunch to inner gooey warmth. His cookies were a little too large for my taste (I think I only want a 5 inch cookie if I can get it from his store), so I adjusted the recipe by changing the baking time and dough ball size to get a slightly smaller cookie.
You can see the difference below: Suggested baking time, with less dough gave a cookie that was too dry and not moist enough in the center for my liking (cookie on the left). After I made a few batches with adjustments, I found my perfect cookie (cookie on the right). LOVE the way the chocolate morsels are so fluid when they are warm.
I know I haven't tried any other recipes yet, but these cookies were damn good. Excellent if I might humbly say so. They were thick, chewy, gooey and definitely best warm. They kept well for a few days in an airtight container so you can enjoy them day after day. I also sprinkled some fleur de sel on top of each cookie and I think that made them extra special.
Since I made these cookies awhile ago, I need a fix for a cookie today. Lucky for me, my good friend Leslie gave me one of those gifts where all the ingredients for chocolate chip cookies come in a cute jar, you know those kind? Well, even luckier for me, I mixed up the dough awhile ago, enjoyed some awesome cookies, and put enough dough in the freezer for just such a day as today.
So although I don't know the secret recipe for her cookies, I can say they are comforting me today. I know a cookie isn't a substitute for a missing boyfriend, but today that is as good as it gets.
I am curled up on the couch, and waiting for my big, warm hug to come out of the oven.
Jacques Torres Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from NY Times, 2008
***UPDATE 01/29/11: See my original comments below about strange measurements? Yeah I felt that was ridiculous, so I re-tested and re-vamped the recipe to make all the measurements more 'round.' It is slightly different from the original Jacques Torres recipe, but it is undoubtedly easier to make (and just as delicious). And lets be honest, anything that makes baking chocolate chip cookies easier is a good thing. (See my 'recipe update' post for more details.)***
Please forgive my strange measurements. I halved his original recipe since I was planning to make smaller cookies. If you want, go the link and use the original recipe but follow my instructions for baking. And really, I can't stress enough that the resting time is critical for the best cookies!
1 cup cake flour, OR add 2 tbsp cornstarch to the bottom of a 1-cup measuring cup, then fill to the top with all-purpose flour
3/4 cup bread flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
3/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1 1/4 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
10 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used Ghirardelli)
fleur de sel
Mix first five ingredients in a medium bowl and set aside. In a mixer, cream butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar and vanilla together until creamy, about 5 minutes. Add egg and mix, then add dry ingredients and mix on low speed just until everything is well incorporated. Add chocolate chips and mix by hand to distribute. Form the dough into a compact ball in the bowl, and press plastic wrap directly against the dough. Refrigerate dough for at least 24 hours, up to 48 hours.
To bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Scoop out dough and form into balls that are approximately 1 3/4-2 inches in diameter. This is the size I found to be ideal. Place on prepared baking sheet about 3 inches apart. Sprinkle each with a pinch of fleur de sel, and bake until golden brown; about 15-17 minutes, depending on how soft you want the center of your cookies. Cool baking sheet on a wire rack, then transfer cookies to the rack to cool completely. (Or eat them right away!) This recipe will make about 18-20 cookies that are 3-3 1/2 inch in diameter.