Monday, February 22, 2010

The Secret to a Great Chocolate Chip Cookie

is salt. Lots and lots of salt.

Though giant chunks of dark chocolate also help.

Yesterday, I made Thomas Keller's recipe for chocolate chip cookies from Ad Hoc at Home.  It's an intriguing recipe, in that it leaves out vanilla, uses cold butter, and directs those who like soft cookies (me!) to mist with water instead of underbaking.  The cookies also bake up fairly flat -- like little saucers of gooey goodness.  And wow were they gooey and good.

And made even better by my addition of extra salt.  I know some will have a conniption that I dared to tamper with the master's recipe, but I doubled the salt in the recipe and also sprinkled a few bits of sea salt on the cookies half way through baking.  The extra salt transformed an already delectable cookie into . . . something indescribable.

We ate all the cookies within hours of baking them.  And I might also have licked the batter out of the bowl. And gotten batter all in my hair. Which meant my hair was more delicious than it has ever been and ever will be.

Image Source

Here's the recipe, courtesy of Ad Hoc at Home and LA Weekly:

Makes: About 30 3-inch cookies.

2 1/3 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
5 ounces 55% chocolate, cut into chip-sized pieces (about 1 1/4 cups)
5 ounces 70 to 72% chocolate, cut into chip-sized pieces (about 1 1/4 cups)
1/2 pound (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 cup packed dark brown sugar, preferably molasses sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs

  1. Position the oven racks in the lower and upper thirds of the oven and preheat the oven to 350°F. Line two baking sheets with Silpats or parchment paper.
  2. Sift the flour and baking soda into a medium bowl. Stir in the salt.
  3. Put the chips in a fine-mesh basket strainer and shake to remove any chocolate "dust" (small fragments).  (I was too lazy to do this.)
  4. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, beat half the butter on medium speed until fairly smooth. Add both sugars and the remaining butter, and beat until well combined, then beat for a few minutes, until the mixture is light and creamy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the eggs one at a time, beating until the first one is incorporated before adding the next and scraping the bowl as necessary. Add the dry ingredients and mix on low speed to combine. Mix in the chocolate.
  5. Remove the bowl from the mixer and fold the dough with a spatula to be sure that the chocolate is evenly incorporated. The dough or shaped cookies can be refrigerated, well wrapped, for up to 5 days or frozen for up to 2 weeks. Freeze shaped cookies on the baking sheets until firm, then transfer to freezer containers. (Defrost frozen cookies overnight in the refrigerator before baking.)
  6. Bake. If you like softer cookies, don't underbake them, just mist them with water before baking.
What's your favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe?  And how do you feel about salt paired with sweets?


Cathleya February 22, 2010 at 9:40 PM  

Uhhgggg no lie, salt makes EVERY sweet better! I'm not much of a baker so I don't have a notable recipe... but Thomas Keller would never steer us wrong! :)

Nicole Peterson February 22, 2010 at 10:54 PM  

It's the fact that you are baking with butter as opposed to shortening which makes the cookie bake flat. And I would think would that amount of sugar they would bake up crisp, do they? They look incredibly delicious. And salt brings interesting flavor to so many things. I am a chocolate chip cookie fanatic and I never thought of adding salt. I am intrigued. Yet one more recipe I need to add to the list.

charms February 23, 2010 at 10:03 AM  

I am freakishly obsessed with salt but I've never tried to use it in baking. It sounds pretty incredible and those pictures of cookies are seriously NOT fair. Its 10am and I'm already dying for some sweets.

Woman with a Whisk March 2, 2010 at 9:50 AM  

Adjusting a Thomas Keller recipe? Stones, lady. ;)

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