Is there anything better than a chocolate chip cookie? Maybe just a still warm from the oven chocolate chip cookie! Maybe it’s nostalgia but this simple recipe is one of those dishes that almost always makes feel like a little kid again, and we didn't even eat homemade cookies as a kid. Childish, though, these cookies are not. You might notice there is a nice amount of sea salt used in this recipe, both in the dough itself and sprinkled on the cookie after it bakes. By now we all now that sweet and salty play together very nicely, chocolate and salt especially so in my opinion. This recipe is my ultimate version of the chocolate chip cookie, so I decided it was time to film a version of the recipe for youtube so if you want get a peak of my kitchen (no complaints about any mess please) and see how to make the cookies take a look below.
Whilst the recipe is fairly straight forward there is a couple things important to this recipe. Firstly is the resting of the dough in the fridge. I first learnt about this idea in a New York Times article a few years back. It was suggested that the cookies would brown more, giving more of those toasty caramelised notes we all love in cookies. I tried it once and adopted the technique straight away. It makes a noticeable colour difference that translates beautifully into flavour.
The second thing that of course affects the quality of the end cookie, is the chocolate used. If you've ever heard me talk about chocolate you know what im talking about. For those that haven't lets just say I’m quite evangelical when it comes to quality chocolate. I am not saying you have to spend a fortune, using Green and Blacks instead of Bourneville for example will make a huge difference. What I'm really saying is this, and maybe this is a little obvious, use a chocolate that you love, at least that way you know you will love the cookies. Secondly is all about quality. When you look at the packaging of chocolate there really should only be a small handful of ingredients. Cocoa in one of its forms (labeled variously as solids, mass, liquor, beans, butter etc) sugar, and then two optional ingredients, some sort of emulsifier, most commonly soya or sunflower lecithin, and finally vanilla (and of course some type of milk for milk chocolate). If there is anything else listed, any vegetable oils, or ingredients you just simply don't understand, then don't buy it. Chocolate like that is masquerading as the real deal and you’ll notice the difference. Also a quick note to American bakers. I have been noticing a lot of American websites listing chocolate as an ingredient and then seeing ‘candy melts’ used in the imagery. I cant say this strongly enough, that stuff bears no relation at all to chocolate and should never be used in replacement of chocolate. That isn't me being snobby its just an entirely different product that will work in a very different way. Again, enough of my lecturing, just use what you love. I could easily go into the ethics of buying chocolate, mass cocoa, beans types, single origins but I can feel you falling asleep through the screen so I am going to resist for now.
Back to the recipe and just one more point about chocolate, its not more lecturing I promise, the format of the chocolate can also make an interesting difference to the cookies. Of course the easiest form for most people is buying a bar of chocolate and chopping it up. There is absolutely nothing wrong with this, half the time I do it this way myself. My preferred method though, is to use callets, small (often oval shaped) discs of chocolate. I use these as they don’t need chopping but as a byproduct of their shape they form big layers of chocolate in the cookies, so that the finished cookie is interlacing layers of dough and chocolate, the perfect format of a cookie. Formally the reserve of professional chefs this style of chocolate is slowly becoming more popular with home bakers and some producers are catching on. Valrhona are of course the pioneers of the form but most of the professional companies produce something similar now. Guittard, a family run San Francisco based company, who recently launched in the UK have chocolate in button form called wafers and in a unique shape called ‘super cookie chips’ which are somewhere between an old fashioned chocolate chip and a callet (I believe Guittard are currently available from Ocado, Amazon and Whole Foods). The chocolate I used in these however was from the British bakery, Pump St Bakery in Orford. For such a small village their bakery sure is producing incredibly high quality chocolate. On a recent visit around the kitchens and chocolate production they very kind to let me take home some of their new callets, which will very soon be available to buy. I decided to use a mix of milk and dark chocolate (mainly because it was what I had left) and trust me these were the best chocolate chip cookies ever!
My Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies
500g plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp flaked sea salt
225g unsalted butter, diced and at room temperature
220g light brown sugar
220g caster sugar
2 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
500g chocolate (I used a 50/50 mix of 60% dark milk and 70% dark from Pump St Bakery)
To make the cookie dough mix together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt together with a whisk (no need to sieve this mixture)
Add the butter and sugars into a large bowl and using an electric mixer, beat together until smooth and starting to lighten, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating until fully combined, then mix in the vanilla.
Add the flour mixture mixing until just combined. Add in the chocolate and mix for a few seconds until evenly distributed. Chill the dough anywhere from 24-48 hours to help the dough to caramelise more as it bakes.
Preheat the oven to 180ºC (160ºC fan oven) and line two baking trays with baking parchment. Use your hand or a mechanical ice cream scoop to form balls of dough, about 60/70g per cookie.
Bake six per tray for about 16-18 minutes or until golden around the edges but still a tad pale in the middle. Allow to cool for a few minutes before transferring to a wire rack to cool completely.
Kept in a sealed container these cookies will keep for up to four days. The balls of dough can also be frozen for a few months. Simply place the dough balls onto a parchment lined tray and pop in the freezer for an hour or so, until hardened. Once frozen you can throw the balls into a tupperware box or ziplock bag. Freezing on the tray first just means the dough balls wont stick to each other. When you fancy baking a cookie or two simply bake as above adding a minute or so onto the baking time.