A Week of Alton Brown Day 3: Chocolate Chip Cookies

The Chocolate Chip Cookie is, I believe, the most perfect cookie.  Nay, the most perfect dessert in existence.  The combination of crunchy exterior and chewy, soft interior, the brown sugar, the big chunks of chocolate – what’s not to like?  Cake and pie and ice cream can’t compare.  (Although a custard shop near my apartment called The Dairy Godmother makes a Tollhouse Cookie custard, which is pretty damn close.) There are a lot of Chocolate Chip Cookie recipes out there and, of course, I turned to Alton to give me the ultimate recipe.  This is a favorite because you don’t need to use a mixer to make it.  I’ve arranged my kitchen so that my mixer is in a very easily accessible place, giving me as few excuses as possible NOT to use it, but still a recipe that doesn’t require the mixer seems easier. I make only two changes to Alton’s recipe: 1.  At the end, before scooping out the dough, I add 4 Tablespoons of milk.  For whatever reason, this dough comes out a bit crumbly and is difficult to scoop into cookie balls for baking.  I often have to form the balls with my hands and really compact the dough together in order to keep it’s shape – it’s very time consuming.

Packing the dough into the scoop so it stays together
Packing the dough into the scoop so it stays together
8b5e0-img_1720
The little mounds it makes
ea104-img_1740
ARGH!!! Why are you so crumbly, dough?!

Therefore, the addition of milk makes the dough just wet enough to scoop.  This completely changes the structure of the cookie which you can see in the pictures below.  But, in my opinion, it’s for the best.

Wet dough - much easier to scoop
Wet dough – much easier to scoop

2.  I use salted butter AND add salt to the recipe.  I call this my secret weapon for this recipe.  I do not think this results in a salty cookie, but, rather, one with a salt element.  Alton advises against using salted butter in your recipes because you cannot control how much salt a specific brand of butter uses – and if you use different brands each time you make a baked good, how can you control the salt?  I think this is a perfectly fair point – but let’s just say I’ve been using salted butter my entire life and I’ve always been happy with the results.

3. Oops, I made three changes!  I added an extra teaspoon of vanilla extract, resulting in 2 total.  Vanilla is typically used to enhance the other flavors in a recipe, but the flavor of vanilla is just so good – I want more!  This doesn’t work on all recipes, but here it was a very successful experiment.

 

Best Chocolate Chip Cookies

  • Servings: approximately 40 cookies
  • Print

Ingredients (Wet):

  • 1/2 pound of salted butter (2 sticks)
  • 3/4 cup white granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar, lightly packed (yes, sugar is considered a wet ingredient!)
  • 2 egg yolks, beaten
  • 2 tsp of pure vanilla extract

Ingredients (Dry):

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp kosher salt
  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (equal to 1-12 oz. bag of chips)

Finisher (if chilling dough before baking): 3 TBL milk

Procedure:

  1. Melt your butter
  2. Once the butter has melted, then measure out your ingredients in two separate bowls.  Do not add the butter until all the ingredients have been measured, so it has time to cool slightly.
  3. Pour your melted butter into the other wet ingredients and thoroughly combine.
  4. Pour your wet ingredients onto the dry ingredients and fold gently until just combined.  Don’t worry if there are streaks of flour in there.
  5. Scoop cookies onto baking sheets with a #40 (1 1/2 TBL) disher
  6. Bake your cookies for 15-17 minutes, depending on your oven.  Mine took 15 minutes.
  7. Every five minutes, I rotate my cookie pan 180 degrees and switch the cookie pans on the racks.  This ensures that the cookies cook evenly – none are more crispy than the others.
  8. Let your cookies cool on the pans for 2 minutes before transferring them to cooling racks.

Process with Bonnie Mac Annotations and Pictures

1. Melt your butter c0878-img_1532

  • Once the butter has melted, then measure out your ingredients in two separate bowls.  Do not add the butter until all the ingredients have been measured, so it has time to cool slightly.
    • Separating egg yolks from egg whites can be tricky, but there’s several utensils out there to help you out.  Some people swear by using the egg shell to separate or even your fingers, but I find this guy pictured here to be best.  It came with my measuring cup set, but can be found for pretty cheap online.
      • Just crack your egg (I use the counter covered with a paper towel, as Alton suggests, so as not to ram egg shell into the egg itself) and empty over the separator.  Then gently jiggle the egg white off of the yolk.  The last bits of egg yolk can be a little difficult to jiggle off, so you may want to use your fingers.
    • The Trader Joe’s Whole Wheat Flour didn’t really change the flavor at all in the baked cookie (I could taste it in the raw dough), and adds fiber to your baked good.  I call it a win-win!
    • I sift all my dry ingredients by shaking a hand-held sieve.  Alton likes to put all his dry ingredients in the food processor and pulse about five times.  I’ve tried this and it is faster – but washing the food processor takes longer than washing the sieve.  So I prefer the sieve.
      • The whole wheat flour does not sift all the way – there’s little chunks that were bigger than my sieve holes.  I just threw that back in the dry ingredients when I got to the end.  Sifting is more a process or aerating than it is fishing out big chunks.
  • Pour your melted butter into the other wet ingredients and thoroughly combine.
  • Pour your wet ingredients onto the dry ingredients and fold gently until just combined.  Don’t worry if there are streaks of flour in there.
  • Then add your milk, one tablespoon at a time, until the dough is wet enough to scoop easily.
    Adding the milk
    Easy to scoop!
  • Scoop your cookies out onto pans that are lined with parchment paper or these nifty silicone mats, which are both nonstick.
  • Bake your cookies for 15-17 minutes, depending on your oven.  Mine took 15 minutes.
    • Every five minutes, I rotate my cookie pan 180 degrees and switch the cookie pans on the racks.  This ensures that the cookies cook evenly – none are more crispy than the others.
  • Let your cookies cool on the pans for 2 minutes before transferring them to cooling racks.  This accomplishes a few things: 1. It allows the cookies to cool down more gently. 2. The cookies will firm up so it’s easier to transfer them to the cooling racks. 3. It allows your cookie sheet to cool down before they next batch of dough goes on.
    NOM.
    • I used to ignore the cooling stage in many cookie recipes and it never ruined any cookies.  But I do notice that this short amount of time allows my cookies to be more uniform – the dough never starts melting before the cookies get in the oven.
      Without milk on the left.  With milk on the right.  See the difference!
  • The recipe yields about 40 cookies.
  • Eat your cookies warm – that’s when they’re best!

I’ve been getting lots of good feedback about the blog so far and I thank you so much for reading!  If you’ve got a pro tip, a question or a comment, please share in the comments below!  The whole point of writing this blog is to share and learn – so let’s start a conversation! 🙂 Comments:

Have you noticed a difference between cookies made with melted butter versus creamed butter? Shape, texture, taste? I think I tried this recipe once, but I refrigerated before baking and found the dough incredibly difficult to work with.

That’s a great question! This is the only recipe I’ve ever tried with melted butter vs. creamed. I had problems both when I refrigerated the dough before and when I didn’t. I poured through Alton’s baking cook book last night trying to find out WHY he preferred the melted butter/muffin method for this cookie, but he never says!

The muffin method (melting butter, adding wet to dry ingredients) versus the creaming method (mixing room temperature butter with sugar before adding dry ingredients) is supposed to yield different texture results. Think of it as a muffin vs. a cupcake – they should have different textures, the cupcake being much more uniform because of creaming. But it’s harder to notice in a cookie. I guess it’s up to us now – we’ll just have to do a side-by-side comparison, one with melted butter and one with creamed, to see if the melted butter is really worth the hassle. The family is going to be devastated to have to undergo that taste test… 😉

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