There are many things, American things, I grew up without: The Brady Bunch, onion rings, McDonalds, 21 Jump Street, PB&J sandwiches, bagels, MacGyver, cranberry muffins, and the list goes on and on. But there’s one thing I didn’t have as a kid that always makes Steve wonder how I made it to adulthood without severe psychological trauma: chocolate chip cookies. Not only did we not have chocolate chip cookies when I was a kid, I didn’t even know that they existed. All the American TV shows and movies I watched were subtitled and “chocolate chip cookies” were simply translated as “cookie with chocolate” or simply “cookie.” It wasn’t until I came to the U.S. that I discovered the culinary marvel that is the chocolate chip cookie. In all fairness, chocolate chip cookies are not well known or loved anywhere else in the world either. Our French friends always produce their Gallic shrug and a dismissive puff when we mention chocolate chip cookies. They’re not impressed.
I, on the other hand, am a huge chocolate chip cookie fan. A good, and that’s a big caveat, chocolate chip cookie is the perfect dessert. It’s sweet but darkly so, thanks to the brown sugar. It has chocolate, but in perfect proportions. It’s slightly crispy on the outside but soft and a little chewy on the inside. You can hold it in your hand, you can dip it in milk, you can sandwich ice-cream between two of them, you can eat it cold or slightly warm.
Unfortunately, like all good things, the chocolate chip cookie has been bastardized a million times over. Finding a great cookie or a great recipe is for many, the holy grail of American desserts. Finally, I think I’ve found it. This recipe, from Smitten Kitchen, has produced consistently some of the best, most mouth-wateringly delicious, most addictive chocolate chip cookies Steve and I have had. The best part is that you can make the dough, shape the cookies and then freeze them. Whenever you want a freshly baked cookie, pop one in the oven for 16 minutes and you’re all set. These are so good, that they might even convert the French to chocolate chip cookie lovers.
The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies – Slightly adapted from Smitten Kitchen
Makes 15-16 cookies
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
Heaped 1/4 teaspoon (or, technically, 1/4 + 1/8 teaspoon) fine sea or table salt
1 3/4 cups (220 grams) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (4 ounces or 113 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 tablespoons (25 grams) granulated sugar
2 tablespoons (25 grams) turbinado sugar
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons (165 grams) packed light or dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 pound (112 grams) semi- or bittersweet chocolate, cut into roughly 1/2-inch chunks with a serrated knife
1/4 pound (112 grams) milk chocolate, cut into roughly 1/2-inch chunks with a serrated knife
Flaky sea salt (like Maldon), to finish
Heat oven to 360°F (182°C) and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicon baking mat. (I know…360°F?? But it does seem to make a difference. If your oven isn’t this precise, just bake them at 350°F and add some baking time, probably a couple of minutes).
In a small bowl, mix flour, salt and baking soda and set aside. In a large bowl, cream the butter and sugars together with an electric mixer until very light and fluffy, about 3-4 minutes. Add egg and vanilla, beating until incorporated, and scraping down the bowl as needed. Beat in the flour mixture on a low speed until just mixed. The dough will look crumbly at this point. With a spatula, fold/stir in the chocolate chunks.
Scoop cookies into 3 tablespoon (I used a #20 scoop) mounds, spacing them apart on the prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle each with a few flakes of sea salt. Put in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes (up to a few hours) if you’ll bake them on the spot, or place them in the freezer to bake them at a later time.
If baking them immediately:
Bake for 11 to 12 minutes in preheated oven, until golden on the outside but still very gooey and soft inside. Out of the oven, let rest on baking sheet out of the for 5 minutes before transferring a cooling rack. Wait another 5-10 minutes (if you can manage that) before eating them.
If baking from the freezer:
First, take out as many cookies as you want to bake and place them on a prepared baking sheet (lined with parchment paper or silicon mat). Then preheat the oven to 360°F (182°C) (this will give the cookies a few minutes to lose their chill). When oven reaches 360°F (182°C), place baking sheet in the oven and bake for 16 minutes. Out of the oven, let rest on baking sheet out of the for 5 minutes before transferring a cooling rack. Wait another 5-10 minutes (if you can manage that) before eating them.