Friday, July 6, 2012

Magic Cookies

Ever since I was old enough to use the stove, I have made (literally) hundreds of types of cookies.   Thankfully, I have had more hits than misses.  One of my standbys is, not surprisingly, chocolate chip.   Nothing too fancy, the Nestle Toll House recipe on the back of the chocolate chip bag is easy and delicious.    Until recently, they were my chocolate chip recipe of choice.  

Until I stumbled across these fantastically wonderful rounds of bliss via Pinterest.   Originally from The New York Times, I have made these cookies twice and they are a-ma-zing.    I decided to post them on this here blog so I could always find the recipe and ingredients... even when I am not at home with my recipe binder.

These are the best cookies I have ever made in my life.    That is a lot of cookies.   I would perhaps even say they are the best in the world.  Hence my use of the word MAGIC.  The catch?  This recipe is an exercise in patience.  You have to wait (days!) between mixing and baking and eating.  If I can wait, anyone can wait.   Let me explain.

The Magic

This recipe uses both bread flour and cake flour, but not all purpose flour.  Bread flour has gluten, which baking experts can talk about if you're interested.  Cake flour is more powdery and light.  Together, they work wonders.

Room Temperature Ingredients
Butter takes 30-45 minutes to reach this state.   Do not leave it out all day and let it get mushy or melted
Eggs are also 30-45 min, but I sometimes use this trick: place eggs in a bowl of warm (not hot!) water for 5-10 minutes.

Quality Chocolate
60% cacao chips.   I have not yet found discs (original recipe suggestion) but Ghirardelli's chips are ginormous and work in a similar fashion.   My local Publix carries large Nestle's dark chocolate chips for less money than Ghirardelli, which are also quality.  DO NOT BUY REGULAR CHOCOLATE CHIPS PLEASE

Chilling the Dough
Fridge time lets the dough rest (like when you bake bread) and also lets the butter and eggs mix into the dry ingredients completely.  Different folks say different amounts of time is best.   The first time I made these cookies I waited about 48 hours.   They were amazing.   This time, 72.  Also amazing.   Significantly so?  Not in my opinion.   I have heard 24 hours is fine.  Bottom line: You do no have to wait 3 days!

Ice Cream Scoop
But Jules!  You are talking about cookies, not ice cream.  Yes, but an ice cream scoop yields the perfect size dough ball.  And it's consistent.   You will thank me later.   (If you do not have an ice cream scoop (to which I say SNAP!  How do you live?) you may use a 1/3 cup until you are able to buy the most essential kitchen utensil known to mankind).   These are not tiny cookies. They are not supposed to be! Enjoy.

Sea Salt
Sprinkle this on top of the cookie balls before baking.   Do not be shy.  You will love the sweet/salty euphoria you experience later.

Do Not Over Bake
I repeat. Do Not Over Bake.  They will keep cooking as they cool.  They will be soft and delicious but you will not be eating raw dough.

The Recipe

I have a digital kitchen scale because I am a nerd.   I weigh everything, but good old fashioned measuring cups will be just fine.

2 cups minus 2 Tbsp. (8 ½ oz.) cake flour
1 2/3 cups (8 ½ oz.) bread flour
1 ¼ tsp. baking soda
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
1 ½ tsp. coarse salt, such as kosher
2 ½ sticks (1 ¼ cups; 10 oz.) unsalted butter, softened
1 ¼ cups (10 oz.) light brown sugar
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. (8 oz.) granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 ¼ pounds bittersweet chocolate chips or chunks-- preferably about 60% cacao content (Ghirardelli)
Sea salt or kosher salt for garnishing
Milk!  (to drink when they're ready)

Day 1

Sift together flours, baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Set aside.  (Set aside!  More waiting.  Geez)

Cream butter and sugars until very light and fluffy.  This will take 3 to 5 minutes when using a stand mixer with paddle attachment.  Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Mix in the vanilla. As with any cookie recipe, scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula periodically, so everything mixes together well. Reduce the mixer speed to low.   Slowly add dry ingredients, and mix until just combined, about 30 seconds.  (If you don't go slowly, you will end up with a mess of flour all over the kitchen and you'll have to remeasure it, and wait even longer!)  Once the dough is, well, dough, add the chocolate chips.  Make sure they are all mixed in and distributed relatively evenly in there.

If you are using a stand mixer with a metal bowl, put the dough in a glass bowl for chilling.  Press plastic wrap against the dough, and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours. The dough may be used in batches, and can be refrigerated for up to 72 hours.    It can also be frozen in an airtight container if you are really want to wait forever.

Day 2 (and maybe 3) 

Wait!   Let the dough chill in the refrigerator.   Make sure your husband does not sneak any tastes. 

Bake Day!

YAY it is time to bake and eat
About 30 - 45 minutes before you want to bake, remove the bowl of dough from the refrigerator, and allow it to soften slightly.   Even on my Florida in July counters (we keep it 77 during the day!) this took more than half an hour.   Once the dough is malleable, preheat oven to 350°F.  Also during this time, line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat.  (I love Silpat!)  Using a standard-size ice cream scoop, scoop out 6 balls of dough.  Place them on the lined baking sheet, evenly spaced. 

Sprinkle lightly [but not too lightly!] with sea salt, and bake until golden brown but still soft, 15 to 20 minutes.  In my General Electric typical oven, the ideal time was about 16 minutes.  Transfer the entire baking sheet to a wire rack for 10 minutes, so that air can circulate all around the cookies while they cool.   Then transfer the cookies onto the rack to cool a bit more.   Don't move them too fast or else the dough will be soft and fall through the cracks of your cooling racks.  Trust me.   Wait!

Repeat with remaining dough.

Yield: About 24 (5-inch) cookies.   I ended up with 20 the first time, and 24 the second time.  This was using a 'regular' ice cream scoop (level, not heaping) and eating no dough from the bowl.   I am such a witch.  

NOTE These cookies taste amazing on bake day, but perhaps even better the next day.   That was new for me.  I always thought cookies tasted best right out of the oven.  Don't get me wrong, these are fantastic day of, but the next day- oh my gosh.  Pour yourself some milk and try not to drool all over yourself, or your new cookies.

Now, start baking, friends!  

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