Hard to believe, but this is the first dessert recipe I’ve ever posted. Up until recently, I was staunchly opposed to writing about sweets. Something about it seemed almost gimmicky. In truth, I’ve never been, by any means, innovative when it comes to making desserts (unless you count the time I tried to surprise my wife by making a cake, substituting olive oil for butter and cherry juice for granulated sugar–I’m sure you have a good sense of about how successful that was).
But before you start calling me a sell-out, complaining that this cookie post is a cheap way to garner millions of views on Pinterest, just hear me out. I’m doing this because I love you.
What I’m trying to tell you is that I’ve found the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe. This is probably the moment where you begin to wonder how many times you’ve heard such an empty promise. I understand your reservations and your doubts. Your fears and your tired years of longing. I too have been let down by many a cookie recipe. Like bad relationships, a lover’s empty promises (“baby, I’ll be so good to you”), once I warmed their dough in my oven, I saw them for what they were all along: fakes, phonies.
Most were on the cake-y side of the spectrum, like little chocolate chip muffin tops. Others, meanwhile, could have been suitably repurposed as hockey pucks. With cookies, it’s all about the texture. And that’s why, when I came upon David Lebovitz’s recipe for Salted Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies and found them to be everything I could ever want in a cookie, I had to share them with you. The salted butter, which has become ubiquitous in recent years, adds to the savor of these cookies, but it’s the technique and preparation that elevate them to celestial climes.
Salted Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies (from David Lebovitz)
4 ounces salted butter, at room temperature
2/3 cup dark brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg, at room temperature
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/3 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon sea salt or kosher salt
1 1/3 cups coarsely chopped bittersweet chocolate
1 cup toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped
In a large bowl, beat together the butter, brown sugar, and granulated sugar until smooth. If you don’t feel like using a stand mixer, a spoon works just fine. Now beat in the egg and the vanilla.
In a separate bowl, mix the flour, baking soda, and salt.
Stir the flour into the beaten butter until you no longer see any dry bits of flour. Now stir in the chocolate and the toasted nuts.
Form the batter into a somewhat circular disc, wrap it in plastic, and let it chill in the fridge. Lebovitz suggests to let it chill overnight, but I’ve found that an hour in the freezer works just fine.
When you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Lebovitz suggests shaping the dough into “rounds about the size of a large unshelled walnut,” but I must admit that after searching back in the vault of my subconsciousness, I held no memories of mid-september days, crouched down on sodden dirt beneath a black walnut tree, filling up pails of the smoky, meaty fruit. And so, for your sake, dear reader, I’ve used a US quarter cent piece for scale because, unfortunately, our society has become more familiar with the specific size and weight of currency than of the fruits of nature.
Place the mounds on the baking sheet and flatten them just so the dough is even and no longer domed. Bake the cookies on the center rack of the oven for 10 minutes. Halfway through, turn the baking sheet so that every cookie bakes evenly. After ten minutes, remove them from the oven. With a spatula, gently flatten them and place them back in the oven.
Let them cook about 3 minutes more. But keep a close eye on them. Once they are a light golden brown, remove them from the oven and take them off the hot baking sheet. Flatten them lightly once again, and resist your urge to eat two or three right out of the oven.
I know we all understand the joy of a warm cookie, but my wife, who is something of a sucrose connoisseur, introduced me to well-chilled chocolate chip cookies. After some time in the refrigerator, the butter and sugar firm ever so slightly and the cookies take on an almost caramel-like chewiness. Think about that for a minute.