America's Test Kitchen Family Baking Book has proven itself to be a great guide for classic cookie recipes with lots of helpful hints and little steps that make you slap yourself on the forehead and ask, "Why didn't I think of that?" I was curious to see what they had to say on the topic of chocolate chip cookies.
There are a few different versions listed in the binder, but since I was in the mood for the softer version I opted for these Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies. The cookies that I usually make at home veer towards the thin, crisp version, so I was dying to find out which part of my normal recipe lead to flat, crunchy cookies.
The first step in this recipe is to melt and cool the butter, and as it turns out using melted butter in place of room temperature or even softened butter changes the texture of your cookies dramatically. The rest of the ingredients are pretty much the same as most other chocolate chips, but when it came time to put the little balls of dough onto the baking sheets it became clear that this dough was something else entirely.
The dough is very easy to work with, smooth and not at all sticky. It rolled into shiny little balls of chocolate chip goodness—no messing with spoons or scoops, as bare hands did the trick. I placed them relatively far apart since I have made more than a few batches of cookies that turn out to be one giant cookie due to spreadage.
I put the cookies into the oven and checked them every few minutes. To my surprise, the cookies held their shape and barely spread at all; they rose, and the centers were puffy. And since the cookies were rolled into spheres and not just plopped down, the cookies were perfectly circular, not the misshapen (but tasty) blobs that I was used to.
I took them out of the oven before they cooked all the through; this way the centers stay soft. I waited for them to cool to the point just below mouth searing, and tasted one. They tasted nothing like the hundreds of chocolate chip cookies that I have made over the years. These tasted shockingly professional, as if they came from a bakery and not my own humble kitchen. Uniformly flavored, crisp on the edges and chewy within, and damn good. Leave it to America's Test Kitchen to figure out the the mere addition of melted butter to a classic recipe can change the results so drastically. Incredible.
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- 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons (10 2/3 ounces) all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 12 tablespoon (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 1 cup packed (7 ounces) light brown sugar
- 1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 egg yolk
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups (9 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
Adjust an oven rack to the lower-middle position and heat the oven to 325°F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt together in medium bowl.
In a large bowl, beat the butter and sugars together with an electric mixer on medium speed until smooth, 1 to 2 minutes. Beat in the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla until combined, about 30 seconds, scraping down the bowl and beaters as needed.
Reduce the mixer speed to low and slowly add the flour mixture until combined, about 30 seconds. Mix in the chips until incorporated.
Working with 2 tablespoons of the dough at a time, roll the dough into balls and lay them on the prepared baking sheets, spaced about 2 inches apart. Bake the cookies, one sheet at a time, until the edges are set and beginning to brown but the centers are still soft and puffy, 15 to 20 minutes, rotating the baking sheet halfway through baking.
Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet for 10 minutes, then serve warm or transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.