Hello my filthy scuzzies! Excuse the language–I have spent a bit too much time with Matt Timmz and his legion of Takedowners. But it was all for a good cause, for you see, not only did I get to feed my cookies to 200-plus cookie-hankering New Yorkers at the Bell House today, I also placed second in the audience favorite category.
While I am normally a modest and self-effacing baker, I have no qualms saying loud and proud that my cookies were da bomb! These are some bonafide, award-winning, delicious, perfectly balanced, and all around excellent chocolate chip cookies. The chocolate and sea salt flakes are high quality, and boy can you taste it.
This is the only chocolate chip cookie recipe I have used since the recipe I adapted it from was first published in 2008. And while four and a half years may not seem like a very long time, keep in mind that that is about one-third of my baking life. It is for all practical purposes a cookie-ternity. Trust me, if you make these, you will never again consult a cooking magazine, website, or butter box in search of the best chocolate chip cookie recipe–for thou hast found it.
That being said, though I have known for some time now the many delights of this recipe, I don’t believe I had ever before made more than one batch of it at a time. This week has taught me that baking 304 cookies is very different from baking 50 cookies. Lessons learned include spreading out the purchasing of ingredients over several days, and spreading out the prep work over several days. You do not want to end up hating baking after an awful experience trying to fit all of the work into one day. On that note, make at least one test batch, and make sure to solicit feedback from a variety of palettes. (I almost made the mistake of making snickerdoodles, but the masses called upon me for my chocolate chip cookies. Thank you, masses! You were right!)
And, I cannot stress this enough: make friends with your local grocery store employees. Any time you are making this many batches, chances are you will buy the store out of at least one ingredient, and they will need to order more for you. C-Town was so on top of ordering Ghirardelli’s, I cannot thank them enough.
Of course, victory could not have been possible without the friends, family, and various other supporters that came out today. You guys are da bomb! An extra thank you to Wendy Kessler for the logo and business cards–they were a huge crowd hit! And another extra thank you to Harry, who awoke at the crack of dawn today to roll and salt cookies, and talk me off the I-can’t-take-this-anymore-why-is-there-still-so-much-cookie-dough-left ledge. Harry, you are the filthiest scuzzy of them all.
If you’re making four batches for a cookie competition (and who isn’t), plan on 2 1/2 hours for chocolate chopping, 3 hours for cookie dough prep, and 3 1/2 hours for cookie rolling and baking. I am currently on hour four of recuperating post-competition, and have a feeling I will recommend at least one good night’s sleep to complete this wonderful experience.
Sweet and Salty Chocolate Chunk Cookies with Sea Salt Flakes
Adapted from the New York Times
Makes 30-70 cookies, depending on how big of a cookie you want (my philosophy is go big or go home)
1 1/4 pounds Ghirardelli’s 60% percent cacao baking bars
1 3/4 cups cake flour
1 2/3 cups flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
2 2/3 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups light brown sugar (using organic light brown sugar adds a nice molasses-y flavor)
1 cup sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract (don’t ruin all your hard work by using imitation vanilla)
Maldon sea salt flakes, for garnish
Cut the chocolate bars into 1/4 inch by 1/4 inch chunks. Do not use chocolate chips, as these have an ingredient that keeps them from melting too much. Trust me, taking the time to cut up a chocolate baking bar is well worth the effort.
Sift the flours, baking powder, baking soda, and coarse salt. Use a whisk to mix these together.
Using a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, or a hand mixer, cream the butter and sugars together. This should take about 5 minutes on medium speed. You want the mixture to be very light and fluffy. Once the mixture is ready, use a tablespoon or rubber spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl and incorporate into the rest of the mixture.
Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add the vanilla extract and mix well. Once again, scrape down the sides of the bowl and incorporate.
Slowly add the flour mixture, and mix just long enough to combine. Scrape down the sides of the bowl again. Add the chocolate chunks, and mix very briefly on slow speed. You want the chunks to remain intact.
Cover the dough with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 24 hours and up to 72 hours. From my many times making this recipe, I have found that 48 hours really hits the spot.
When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line baking sheets with parchment paper. Roll out balls ranging from cotton ball size to golf ball size, depending on how big of a cookie you want. Place these on baking sheet. Use your fingers to crush sea salt flakes and sprinkle on top of each cookie. Experiment with how much salt you prefer.
Bake for 10-20 minutes, depending on size of cookie. The cookies are ready when they are just barely turning golden brown at the edges. Cool for an hour. These cookies taste best on the day they are baked, but can last in an airtight container for a day or two. You can also wrap them in aluminum foil, stick them in the fridge, and warm them up in the microwave when you’re having a cookie craving.
Enjoy these cookies with bourbon, egg nog, and the sweet, sweet taste of victory!