Saturday, December 22, 2012

Sweet Holiday Happiness: The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies!

I know, I know... it has been far too long since I have posted, but I do have a great excuse! The Handsome Spaniard is in town for Christmas and we have been busy celebrating and I have been busy preparing everything!!! Anyways, amongst all of this happiness, I have definitely had some delicious meals lined up. Today, however, I will share a sweet treat with you...the best chocolate chip cookies in existence.

Now, I will warn you that this is purely chocolate chip, nothing else special to add texture or complex flavors. Yes, it is weird coming from my kitchen, but again, I am not a natural baker :) That is usually left up to my dear roommate. My goal though is to build up a base of staple baking recipes so that I can hold my own in the kitchen, no matter what's thrown at me. I also have a brownie recipe that kicks ass, but I'll have to bring that up another day!

These cookies were a dream! I made them as big as my outstretched hand, because let's be honest, cookies shouldn't be the size of half dollars--that's just wrong. They were soft in the center with a slight crunch, and they could be reheated to softness even after a few days. Perfect with tea, a nice breakfast (for the soul not your health), a good ending to lunch, the possibilities for cookies are endless--I'm sure I don't have to tell you that!

While on the search for this recipe, I went to my normal go-to references like Epicurious, Bon Appetit, Gourmet, various food blogs, and of course my recipe book collection, but I found that a basic chocolate chip cookie recipe was not really part of my arsenal of great recipes. Then I was taking a listen to Lynne Rossetto Kaspar on the Splendid Table and I thought that she must have a published recipe on the best chocolate chip cookies ever...and sure enough, there they were.

There are times when a warm chocolate chip cookie out of the oven is just what you need to make a rainy day happy, a rough day at work a little more tolerable, and to keep that chocolate craving from taking over your life! Cozy up with your mixer and preheat that's time for some cookies!

Best Chocolate Chip Cookies
2 cups minus 2 tablespoons (8-1/2 ounces) cake flour
1-2/3 cups (8-1/2 ounces) bread flour
1-1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 Sea salt
2-1/2 sticks (1-1/4 cups) unsalted butter, softened
1-1/4 cups (10 ounces) light brown sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (8 ounces) granulated sugar
large eggs
2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract
1-1/4 pounds dark chocolate chips
Vanilla Sugar
Dark Chocolate Sugar
Orange Fleur de Sel

Okay, so as far as I can deduce, baking is as simple as measuring accurately, mixing up your dry ingredients and your wet ingredients and then incorporating them together. Finally you throw it all in an oven at some set degree and you wait between 8 min- 1 hr for whatever it is you are cooking to puff up into happiness. That's the approach we're taking with these cookies too!

First you need to sift the flours, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Reserve.

Cream the butter and all of the sugars together in a mixer with a paddle attachment. They should be so creamy they look like fluffy, buttery sugar clouds whipped into ribbons in your bowl. Add the eggs one at a time and mix thoroughly between each egg. When that's done mix in the vanilla!

Mix in the dry ingredients on the low setting until just incorporated. Add the chocolate chips and fold them into the dough until just combined. You just made chocolate chip cookie dough! I feel like I eat half of the dough before it gets in the oven...this dough is irresistible...mmmmmmmmmmmmmm!!!

I cooked these in a preheated 350ยบ oven for 19 minutes on baking sheets lined with parchment paper.

When they came out of the oven, we added a little sprinkle of something special while they were still hot. My choice is definitely the orange fleur de sel---it put the basic chocolate chip cookie into the realm of incredibly awesome. We also had vanilla sugar and dark chocolate sugar, which were wonderful as well...I think I would be a little more heavy handed with the sugars to get the same wow effect as the fleur de sel--but that really makes it special.

Finally, stack these babies up and give them to everyone you know. Share them over a tall glass of milk with your neighbors, bring them to work, sneak a few in lunchboxes to share, and make sure that you get your fair share as well. The season of giving shouldn't just be reserved for December, so tuck this recipe away and use it whenever you need a solid pick-me-up!


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