It’s the last week of May. Soon to be June. There are (yikes! only) two full weeks left of school. And oh so much to get done. Plays to put on, music videos to film and edit, stories to write (for the boys). Oh, and reports to write (for the teachers). So this month’s Kitchen Bootcamp challenge (Cookies, Brownies and Bar Cookies) couldn’t have come at a better time. Not only are my colleagues in need of sweet treats to get them through the next couple of crazy weeks, but my Grade 6 class will be hosting a French café morning and I was searching for a fabulous chocolate chip cookie recipe to make with them. Where better to start than The New Best Recipe, the book we just started working our way through for Kitchen Bootcamp? Given the recipe is called “Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies“, I couldn’t go past that, now, could I? (I’m definitely a chewy chocolate chip cookie kind of girl and Mr Neil likes them chewier as opposed to crunchy too). I already made chocolate chip cookies for Kitchen Bootcamp from the Professional Chef which were a little disappointing so my quest was to continue this month.
It’s a pretty simple recipe, calling for a very few ingredients – flour, baking soda, salt, butter, dark brown sugar, granulated sugar, eggs, vanilla and chocolate chips or chunks. The recipe “makes about 18 large” – you know, those giant 400 calorie sized cookies… I halved the recipe, but still made the “large” size because, having never made them before, I wasn’t sure about the baking time and there’s nothing more disappointing that thinking you are biting into a chewy chocolate chip cookie and it’s crunchy, right?
The recipe was easy to whip together and I learned a new technique – how to shape thick chocolate chip cookies so they have a jagged top. Basically you roll the cookie dough into balls (about 1/4 cup of dough per cookie – I told you they were big!), then you pull the dough balls apart into two equal halves. Rotate the cookie halves 90˚ so that the rough edges (where you ripped the dough apart) face up, then push the halves together to form one ball of dough again. The top of the cookie will remain rough and jagged, creating what The New Best Recipe calls “an attractive appearance”.
I *slightly* overbaked these since they were so big that I was worried about underbaking, and added an extra 2 minutes to the baking time. Next time I will trust my judgement since they cool on the baking tray, meaning they continue to bake after you remove them from the oven. In any case, Mr Neil’s judgement (we shared one between us) was “I wouldn’t turn these away” which coming from a chocolate chip cookie snob, is high praise indeed.
You can find this fabulous recipe at the end of this article on America’s Test Kitchen – Secrets to Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies – you’ll have to create an account to see the recipe but it’s free and easy. Trust me, for this recipe alone, it’s worth it.
Now you see, I might have just stopped my quest here. These are pretty “up there” in terms of taste and texture. But then my good friend Alicia brought her chocolate chip cookies to a party last weekend. Well actually, not hers, but rather, a recipe she found over on The Traveler’s Lunchbox (enticingly named “The Holy Grail of Cookies) which is adapted from Pam Anderson (of Three Many Cooks fame)’s recipe from Cooksmart. Having stood very close to the cookie plate at the pot luck party Alicia brought them to so I could make sure they were, indeed, as good as I thought, it was a foregone conclusion that I needed to try this recipe too.
The Holy Grail recipe is very similar to The New Best Recipe’s but calls for oil as well as butter and requires the dough balls to be frozen for at least 30 minutes before they are baked (and, in fact, can remain frozen then you can bake as required – this is actually a very appealing feature of this recipe). The cookies are then baked at two different temperatures – 400˚F for 8-10 minutes then at 350˚F for the remaining 8-10 minutes. The outside crisps up whilst the insides remain soft and chewy. This recipe called for a little sea salt to be sprinkled over the tops of the cookies which really worked.
In fact, the whole cookie really worked. These were incredible. My *only* complaint might be that you are left with a little grease on your fingers (and in fact, they were greasy on the parchment when baking) but hey, it’s a small complaint. These are the ultimate chocolate chip cookie. To be enjoyed in moderation, if you can. Is my search over? I think so. If I don’t have 30 minutes minimum to freeze the dough before I bake the cookies, I’ll go with The New Best Recipe. If I do, I’ll go with the Holy Grail.
Kitchen Bootcamp is working through The New Best Recipe (from the editors of Cook’s Illustrated). Want to join us working through this fabulous book? Check out the Kitchen Bootcamp page here and buy The New Best Recipe on Amazon.ca or Amazon.com.
Win a copy of Jamie Oliver’s “Food Revolution Cookbook” – contest closes on Tuesday May 29th at 9pm EST. The winner will be chosen via Random.org and announced on Wednesday May 30th. Good luck!