There is nothing like taking a bite out of the perfect chocolate chip cookie, savoring every chew and then washing it down with ice-cold milk. My whole outlook on life can be transformed in one bite. The last few years I have been on a quest to perfect the recipe for these soul-satisfying morsels, one that tasted and cooked consistently each time. As Americans we can be proud to know the chocolate chip cookie originated in Massachusetts and is credited to Ruth Graves Wakefield from the Tollhouse Inn. In the 1930’s she developed the recipe while making Butter Drop cookies; it is unclear whether the cookies were the product of a kitchen mishap where pieces of a Nestle chocolate bar ended up in the batter, or an intentional creation by a chef who understood the science of chocolate and how it retained its texture when cooked. The cookies became a local sensation which led to an agreement with Nestle to use her recipe on their candy bars. The candy bar was later turned into chocolate bits that we know today as chocolate chips and it still has Ruth’s Tollhouse recipe on each bag.
When I worked at the catering company I always sighed when chocolate chip cookies were on my daily food prep list because the recipe yielded over 250 cookies! After the dough was made it all had to be scooped out into balls (boy, was my arm sore!). If not, it was impossible to scoop out the cold, hard dough each time we needed to make a batch of cookies for an event. I thought this was a brilliant technique to use at home. This recipe makes over 40 cookies and I can’t have that many staring at me because I know I’ll gobble them up.
So instead of baking them all at once, I place all the scoops of dough on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper, cover them completely with enough plastic wrap so it qualifies for the catering death wrap – encased top and bottom with a few sheets of plastic wrap to ensure freshness – and freeze them. The next day I transfer them to a large Ziploc bag and store them in the freezer. The frozen dough will last about a month (they all usually get eaten way before then) and I can satisfy my sweet tooth with something homemade in a few minutes.
I use a medium OXO scoop which holds about 1 ½ tablespoons of batter.
Sometimes I will toast the walnuts to add another layer of flavor in the dough. Here’s how: either chop them or break them up with your fingers into bite-size pieces. Heat a small skillet over medium-high heat and add the walnuts; toast for about 5 minutes until they start to turn a dark golden color and become fragrant. Stir often, every 30 seconds or so, and put them on a timer because they burn very quickly and it’s easy to get distracted. Let cool before adding to the dough.
I like my cookies to have some density to them with a slightly crispy outside and a chewy inside. I found that you can put the frozen cookie balls directly into the oven (I use my convection setting) and they come out perfect every time – they have just enough rise and don’t flatten out. I also recommend using parchment paper to line your sheet pan; the cookies don’t stick, they cook evenly all the way through and the cleanup is easy. You can find parchment paper in your grocery store, usually next to the tin foil. Here is the recipe for this irresistible American Classic.
CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES
Recipe makes about 40 cookies; reduce by half for 20 cookies
375 degree oven
2 ½ cups flour, sifted
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks of butter (1 cup)
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 teaspoons water
1 cup bittersweet chocolate chips (60% cacao)
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup chopped walnuts
Sift the flour into a bowl, add the baking soda and salt and mix together with a fork.
In a large bowl add the butter and mix on low speed with a hand mixer for 30 seconds to break it up. Add the sugars and vanilla and mix on low for about a minute until well incorporated. Add the eggs one at a time and mix well after each one is added.
Add the flour mixture along with 2 teaspoons water and mix well on low speed. Add the chocolate chips and walnuts and mix together using a strong spoon until well incorporated. Scoop out all the cookie dough into balls and freeze the extras for later use (see directions above).
Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and place 8 cookie scoops on it, evenly spaced. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes until golden brown. Rotate the sheet pan at 8 minutes for even browning. Let cool for a few minutes and transfer to a cooling rack.