There's been a hole in my heart since the end of December. My kitchen is usually a hotbed of activity, but it has been sadly devoid of any baking action since the conclusion of A Cookie a Month 2009. There haven't been any warm sugary smells wafting through the air, nor any cookies to nibble on.
It was high time that I do something to rectify this situation, and testing out Thomas Keller's recipe for Chocolate Chip Cookies from Ad Hoc at Home seemed like the ideal opportunity. When we were tasting chocolate chip cookies for The Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie Tour, the cookies from Thomas Keller's Bouchon Bakery were some of my favorites and I wanted to see if this recipe would make for a close approximation.
The recipe is a pretty standard mix of chocolate chip cookie ingredients with a few differences. First off, Keller doesn't include vanilla in his recipe. I missed it in the final cookies, I suspect because I'm predisposed to look for hints of vanilla in chocolate chip. Secondly, he replaces standard chocolate chips with two chocolates, one sweet and one bitter, both cut by hand into irregular pieces. These two chocolates play off of each other and keep the cookies from having a one note sweetness.
After my cookies had cooled to tasting temperature I took a bite. They had an ideal crispness on the bottom, yet were soft within and the chocolate pieces were still melty. In my mind, this was chocolate chip cookie texture perfection. The flavor was something else—there was an austerity about them that came from the bitter chocolate. They were at once bitter and incredibly rich, unlike any chocolate chip cookie I've ever tasted, and they managed to keep the integrity of the high quality chocolate without letting the rich cookie dough overwhelm.
These cookies were worlds away from Chips Ahoy and remarkable different from the classic Toll House version that so many of us find synonymous with chocolate chip cookies. Their incredible depth of flavor might make you pause and think about the ingredients. For a humble chocolate chip cookie that's a pretty incredible feat.
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- 21/3 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
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.
Sift the ﬂour and baking soda into a medium bowl. Stir in the salt. Put the chips in a ﬁne-mesh basket strainer and shake to remove any chocolate "dust" (small fragments).
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.
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.)
Using about 2 level tablespoons per cookie, shape the dough into balls. Arrange 8 cookies on each pan, leaving about 2 inches between them, because the dough will spread. Bake for 12 minutes, or until the tops are no longer shiny, switching the position and rotating the pans halfway through baking.
Cool the cookies on the pans on cooling racks for about 2 minutes to firm up a bit, then transfer to the racks to cool completely. Repeat to bake the remaining cookies. (The cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 days.)