April. Wow. It’s already April, and the past year has been a blur. The move to grad school, meeting my newest nephew (he’s the most gorgeous baby ever – I’m not biased, really), getting acclimated to MIT and Boston, meeting some of the best friends anyone could ask for. I’m not sure how so much love and learning have squeezed themselves into such a short year, but alas, here we are. Boston’s weather is holding to the expected ‘April showers,’ and I can think of nothing better to break up the gloom than some ooey-gooey, break-your-heart, phenomenal chocolate chip cookies.
Honestly, what more could I possibly say than “Chocolate Chip Cookies”? This is the holy grail of baking. It’s a simple, amazing dish with the power to win over even the harshest critics. BUT, and this is a big but, only if you can get them right. There are so many recipes out there claiming to be the best and, believe me, I’ve tried most of them. Many of them are great in their own way; many of them are disappointing. Each person has their own “perfect” version of chocolate chip cookies – crispy, chocolatey, gooey, crunchy – there is something about them that can send you into a tailspin of delicious nostalgia.
For me, the best chocolate chip cookie has to have the just-right crispiness on the outside, combined with a soft, but not too chewy inside. It has to stay the right texture, and have that certain “something” to the flavor that so many recipes lack. But I find that chocolate chip cookies are VERY sensitive to changes in the recipe. So, I tested. And I tested some more. And, then, I tested some more. Each round of testing has been given to friends, family members, really whoever I could find (to make the sacrifice of eating a fresh-baked chocolate chip cookie). Folks, we have a winner here. The recipe is a simple one, but oh so delicious. The secret is in the steps, and a few key ingredients. Do the steps in order, and buy the right ingredients. That’s it.
- 1 cup unsalted butter, softened (Land O' Lakes)
- 1 cup granulated white sugar
- 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 2 egg, room temperature
- 3 tsp vanilla extract (I like Madagascar Bourbon)
- 3 cups (384 grams) all-purpose flour
- ½ tsp cream of tartar
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 2 tsp hot water
- ¾ tsp salt
- 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips (Ghirardelli)
- 1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)
- Using a fork (no electric mixers here!), cream together the sugars and butter, until smooth.
- Add in the eggs, mixing thoroughly after each one.
- Add in the vanilla, and stir to combine.
- In a small bowl, dissolve the baking soda and salt in the hot water. Add to the batter, and stir to combine.
- Stir in the flour and cream of tartar, until smooth.
- Stir in the chocolate chips and nuts.
- Cover the dough with seran wrap, and refrigerate for 10-15 minutes.
- Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Remove the dough from the fridge. Using light-colored, un-greased baking sheets, lay a piece of parchment paper over each cookie sheet.
- Roll 1.5 inch balls of the cookie dough, and place them 2-3 inches apart on the cookie sheets. Press each ball down slightly with two fingers, until the top is slightly flattened.
- Cover the cookie dough balls with saran wrap, and return to the fridge for 30 more minutes.
- Remove from fridge, and bake for about 14 minutes, or until the cookies just begin to gain a golden brown hue.