Secret ingredient: Best Chocolate Chip Cookies in the World February 14, 2014
I never really “got” chocolate chip cookies until I tasted the cookies my husband made.
Don’t get me wrong: I ate a chocolate chip cookie now and then, but there were probably a dozen or more other cookies I would prefer over chocolate chip if given a choice. Molasses cookies, gingerbread, snickerdoodles, almond lace, shortbread, peanut butter, and especially Martha Stewart’s coconut biscuits–YUM!
But chocolate chip? Eh. I often turned them down. No thanks. Not my thing. I didn’t understand why people went so gaga over chocolate chip cookies. There were so many other delicious cookies out there that I wondered if chocolate chip cookie lovers just hadn’t experienced many homemade cookies growing up. Homemade chocolate chip cookies are certainly an improvement over Chips Ahoy!
Then my husband, no doubt longing for the chocolate chip cookies that I seldom made, lighted on a recipe he wanted to try. It didn’t really look that different from the ones I used (at first the Tollhouse recipe, then the Cook’s Illustrated Perfect Cookie recipe). The recipe he found used real butter. So did the recipes I used. It goes without saying that we always use good, fresh eggs from our own hens. His recipe used quality dark chocolate, which is what I used. (Even in the Nestle Tollhouse recipe, I had never used Nestle morsels). His new recipe also called for making the dough ahead and letting it chill at least 36 hours. I did the same thing, since I knew a full hydration made a huge difference in the quality of the finished cookie.
But two things that made the recipe he found unusual. The was first a salted top (great idea!)
Second, his recipe used a mixture of cake and bread flour.
“I don’t know,” I told him, when I saw this innovation. I wondered what the final protein balance would be. It seemed like too much gluten from the bread flour might give the cookies a tough texture. Or too little from the cake flour might make them crumbly. But I was interested in the result. Even so, I didn’t think it would make that much difference, honestly. I didn’t think it would make me like chocolate chip cookies.
But he made them. I tasted them. Sweet suffering babies, I tasted them.
They are, hands down, the best chocolate chip cookies in the world. They’re slightly crispy at the edges, and soft but chewy in the middle. The salted tops really brought out the sweetness of the cookie in a way that wasn’t cloying. They were tender. I wanted them in my mouth. They were addicting. Lawsie. I was a convert.
That’s not where the story stops, though. Here’s where it gets interesting: While we were signing our new book, the My Pet Chicken Handbook, I was telling Traci, MPC’s Chief Eggsecutive Officer, about my husband’s cookies. I explained about the HUGE difference the mixture of bread and cake flour seemed to make in my perception of chocolate chip cookies. The very next day, I had the opportunity to chat with Dave Poorbaugh, producer of Daisy Organic Flours. When he explained that Daisy Organic All-Purpose Flour is made from a mixture of their bread and pastry flours (both hard and soft wheats), I was intrigued. In fact, the first thing I thought of was my husband’s cookies. Would they be better with Daisy Flour? Would the proportion of bread to pastry be similar?
Dave explained that because of the careful way they source their wheat–even beginning a program of heritage wheats for their organic flour–you can still taste the fields in every bag. I knew from beer brewing what a difference grain variety, growing conditions (including regional soils) and processing makes in the taste of grain, so after talking to Dave—he was so knowledgeable—I couldn’t wait to get some Daisy Flour into our kitchen and try some out. (How geeky am I?!)
I’m not entirely sure how my husband’s cookies could have improved, but they did. But what we found in the cookies was that Daisy flour intensified the taste of the butter. They were butter-licious. They were out-butter-standing. They were butter-lectable.
My husband made a batch of these gems for a local event, called “Chocolate on the Square.”
At the event, I had the pleasure from afar of watching one lady pick up a chocolate chip cookie while she was chatting with a friend. After a while, she absently took a bite. The expression on her face changed to incredulity, and her “Mmmmmm!” exclamation was almost frantic. I could hear her excitement from halfway across the room. “You have to try these!” she interrupted her friend. It’s probably good she did. The cookies didn’t last long, and her friend would have missed out!
I married my best friend on Valentine’s Day, 10 years ago today. To my darling husband, thanks for setting me straight on chocolate chip cookies. I was totally wrong.
For our readers, here’s my husband’s new recipe, using Daisy Flour (based on this one, which uses a combination of flours).
Best Chocolate Chip Cookies in the World
- 17 ounces Daisy All Purpose Flour (No other flour will do. If you can get Daisy, use a combination of flours as specified at the link above)
- 1 ¼ tsp. baking soda
- 1 ½ tsp. baking powder
- 1 ¼ tsp. fine sea salt
- 2 ½ sticks unsalted butter, softened
- 10 ounces packed light brown sugar
- 8 ounces granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs (for small or extra small bantam eggs, use 3)
- 1 tsp. Penzey’s Double Vanilla Extract
- 1 ¼ pounds high quality dark chocolate chips
- Coarse salt for tops
Before you begin, go to the grocery store, and buy ingredients for your next batch. Seriously, you will be sorry if you don’t do this now. Don’t say I didn’t warn you.
When you get back home, allow your butter to rise to room temperature. (If you refrigerate your backyard eggs, allow them to rise to room temperature, too.) Whisk dry ingredients together: flour, baking soda, baking powder, and salt. Set aside. Cream butter and sugars in an electric mixer until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well to incorporate after each addition. Add vanilla and reduce the mixer speed to low. Add dry ingredients gradually and mix until just combined. Don’t overbeat. Finally, fold in chocolate chips.
Wrap dough and refrigerate for 36 hours.
Preheated oven to 350°F while you’re allowing your dough to soften on the counter 30 minutes to an hour. When everything is ready, use an ice cream scoop to make large cookies on a parchment-lined baking sheet. The scoops should be slightly smaller than golf balls. Allow for plenty of room to spread. Sprinkle the tops with coarse salt.
Bake until golden brown, 10 to 12 minutes–don’t overbake! They may look underdone when you take them out, but they’re done when you just begin to see color on the edge. Let the cookies cool for 6 minutes on the cookie sheet, then finish cooling on a rack.
Happy Valentine’s Day!