Chocolate chip cookies

I have a confession to make. I am a slave to chocolate chip cookies. Not just any chocolate chip cookies: soft ones, with large, unbreakable chips of solid dark chocolate surrounded by only the thinest cushioning of dough.

Given the choice, I do not like them warm. I prefer that the chocolate re-solidify, that the rich sweet chunks melt slowly against the tongue, and that the surrounding dough crumble slowly into a thick syrup against the roof of my mouth.

In the summer, I buy them at the Flying Fish alongside a cup of creamy iced coffee, from behind the deli counter at Jam's on the way to work, or from the Sweet Escape instead of an afternoon ice cream. I have spent, I am sure, far more money on this habit than I would prefer to imagine.

So when the New York Times came out with a new recipe for the cookies—not just a new one, but what it called the best one—I was itching to try it, and perhaps even save some money in the process. Problem was, I didn't have any of the ingredients. Cake flour? Bread flour? I had a tin of whole wheat flour from a farm in Maine, the closest and best I could find, purchased twice a year in 20 pound bags. Then there was the light brown sugar; while I keep granulated around for canning and jams, I hadn't seen a bag of Domino's light in the cupboard for at least a year.

But butter I had, and sixty percent cacao large chips care of Ghiradelli's, one of my most indulgent exceptions to the eat local goal (along with olive oil, a good stock of leavening agents, and a few other essentials—after all, even Barbara Kingsolver only managed to source about 70 percent of her family's food regionally).

So when I awoke this morning to the sound of a heavy rain and the smell of wet earth, I put aside my better intentions for the day and set to work testing the New York Times' recipe the locavore way. I subbed honey for brown sugar, whole wheat for cake flour, and added a bit of extra baking soda to counteract the changes. I swapped thin disks for large chips, pre-heated the oven to a temperature just a bit cooler than recommended, and scooped dough into brown balls on two silver sheets.

The cookies emerged several minutes later, golden and shimmering with sea salt. I walked through the article's perfection checklist as I bit in for a taste: the cookies were large, as recommended, warm, and ringed from soft middle to crisp edges in three distinct texture phases. With a few changes, it appears a locavore can have her cookie and eat it too.

Though next time, I think I'll have mine cold. David Leite might not like his that way, but he hasn't won me over just yet.


adapted from the New York Times recipe, published July 9, 2008

Makes 2 dozen

In a mixing bowl, sift together 3 and 1/2 cups whole wheat flour, 1 and 3/4 teaspoons baking soda (I added an extra 1/2 teaspoon for the cup of honey I substituted for light brown sugar, as this helps baked goods made with the syrup rise), and 1 and 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt.

In a separate mixing bowl, beat 2 and 1/2 sticks room temperature butter with 1 cup honey and 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar. Add 2 large eggs and 2 teaspoons vanilla extract and mix well. Add dry ingredients and 1 and 1/4 pounds 60 percent cocao chocolate chips, or more to taste.

Chill batter at least 24 hours, preferably 36. Bake at 325 degrees (rather than 350, as honey tends to need a 25 degree lower baking temperature when substituted) until golden brown. Sprinkle with sea salt.


Liz said...

I've been meaning to make these, I like your take on them.

Where do you find local butter?

Anonymous said...

Sounds like you didn't chill the dough like the guy in the Times recommended. What do you think the difference would be?

Gemma said...

Elspeth, those cookies look amazing! I love that you add sea salt on top-that's how I like mine too. My roommate always adds cayenne pepper when she makes chocolate chip cookies, and though I haven't tried them she swears they are the best you've ever tasted.

I love the blog, by the way. Sometimes I feel like I'm eating well just by reading it!


Anonymous said...

I tasted and they are the real deal... even for breakfast...

Elspeth Pierson said...

Butter is tough. I sometimes make my own, as I get raw, unhomogenized milk which allows me to separate the cream. Check out these links on SEMAP for other options: http://www.farmfresh.org/food/food.php?zip=02375&food=160

To answer the second question, I didn't chill the dough as I think I should have...the New York Times says doing so will make the flavor more complex and the dough more evenly browned.

Cayenne pepper is a great idea!


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