When I think about fall, one thing comes in to my mind: cookies. Or, more specifically, cold afternoons spent huddled over my oven, trying not to eat the raw cookie dough. Yes, that’s probably a more accurate picture. My mom wasn’t the baking type, and she was rarely home when I got back from school, so I missed out on the whole “fresh warm cookies right after school!” part of childhood. But that doesn’t mean totally missed out.
When I’d go to my friend’s house to do homework (aka play video games, run around the block, etc) we would be greeted with a plate full of cookies. I thought it was the best thing ever. Homemade Cookies? For a snack? WHHATTT??! You can just imagine my little almond eyes wideningin shock. Just one bite, and I was hooked. There was nothing greater than when that sweet and salty cookies, still warm, hit my tongue. If I should ever reproduce (not for decades, people) I know that my challenge will be to put a fresh plate of chocolate chip cookies out for my kids, especially when they are just going to run around and burn it off later.
About a year ago, the NY Times did a big article on the perfect chocolate chip cookie. Do you remember that? It involved using different flours, and chilling the dough for 24-36 hours. A bunch of bloggers tested out the recipe, and I’m sure they thought it was great and delicious. But I refrained. Mainly because the hype turned me off, and also because I think the perfect chocolate chip cookie is subjective. What exactly makes a cookie the best? Is it the perfect cookie crispy or soft? Do you have to use fancy chocolate or regular Nestle? Is this the best cookie recipe because the NYT said so? Naw, that’s not how I roll. While I appreciate the research and dedication, I know that one of the best chocolate chip cookie recipes I’ve ever found lies in “Baking: From My Home to Yours” by Dorie Greenspan. I wrote about these cookies in December 2007, but the post didn’t do them justice. First of all, the pictures are horrendous and I would delete that post but it’s a nice way to show how far I’ve come… And I personally love to laugh at some of my older posts.
Anyways, this recipe is super simple. No different flours, no necessary-chilling time, just plain old chocolate chip goodness. The first time I made these cookies, I chilled the dough for about an hour and it produced a less crispy, flat cookie. But, I prefer crispy cookies with chocolate melting insides. Doesn’t that sound like heaven? It should, because it was.
In the name of chocolate chip cookies, I know the title of “The Best Chocolate Chip Cookie” is a hefty one. But I think this one deserves it. The cookies, flat yet soft, are sturdy enough to withstand road trips and lunchboxes. I brought these along with me on my road trip to Half Moon Bay and they were great after long walks on the beach with a cup of tea. You can add some nuts in, if you’d like. The original recipe called for walnuts, but I wanted to use a more subtle nut to give the cookie a mysterious bit. Enter Almond Meal. I bought pre-made almond meal from Trader Joes and I used 1 cup of it in this recipe and guess what? Even those who absolutely hate nuts couldn’t suspect it. In fact, the almond meal made the cookies ten times better. Note: if you are giving these out to strangers or at a party, make a note that it contain nuts. You don’t want anyone to have a deadly allergic attack over your cookies.
I also used these cookies in a rather naughty way… No, get your head out of the gutter. I put these bad boys to the ultimate test: ice cream sandwiches. There is nothing worse than making warm, chocolate chip cookies and having them disintigrate when ice cream is squeezed in between the cookies. Sometimes, when a cookie is too soft, it will crumble and fall apart, which isn’t a big disaster. I mean, it’s still a cookie that can be eaten. But when you have your heart set on ice cream sandwiches, you want to weep when that happens. But these cookies were perfect with ice cream. Devilishly delicious, I had two and decided to call that dinner. That’s the beauty of being a grown adult. You get to decide what makes up dinner. Cookies & ice cream? For dinner? Sure, why not.
So why are they the best? Well, my definition of “best” means this: super simple, equally delicious, not overly sweet, enough salt to combat the chocolate, sturdy, crispy with a soft center. Don’t believe me? Follow the recipe, and try NOT to fall in love with this cookies. Go ahead. I’m waiting…
The Best Chocolate Chip Cookie
Origin: “Baking: From My Home To Yours” by Dorie Greenspan
Yield: about 45 cookies
Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 10 to 12 minutes
Inactive Prep Time: 5 minutes
● 2 cups all purpose flour
● 1 tsp. salt
● 3/4 tsp. baking soda
● 2 sticks unsalted butter at room temp
● 1 cup sugar
● 2/3 cup light brown sugar
● 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
● 2 large eggs
● 12 oz. bittersweet chocolate (I used 2 cups store-bought chocolate chips)
● 1 cup chopped walnuts (I used one cup of almond meal)
1. Preheat oven 375 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment or spray with cooking spray.
2. Whisk the flour, salt, and baking soda together.
3. Beat the butter on medium speed for about 1 minute until smooth (you can use a stand mixer, but I don’t have one so I used a hand mixer). Add the sugars and beat for another 2 minutes, until well blended. Beat in the vanilla. Add the eggs one at a time, beating for1 minute after each egg goes in. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the dry ingredients in 3 portions, mixing only until each addition is incorporated. By hand with a wooden spoon, mix in the chocolate and nuts. The dough can be covered and refrigerated for up to 3 days. (Normally, I put it in the fridge for just a half an hour just to firm it up but this time I couldn’t wait. )
4. Spoon the dough by slightly rounded tablespoonful onto the baking sheet, leaving about 2 inches between spoonfuls.
5. Bake the cookies one sheet at a time and rotating the sheet at the midway point- for 10 or 12 minutes, or until they brown at the edges and are golden in the center. Pull sheet from oven and allow the cookies to rest for 5 minutes, then transfer to racks to cool to room temperature.