Tuesday, December 3, 2019

Chocolate Chip and Toffee Cookies

To say I am a devote of Smitten Kitchen would be an understatement.  I love Deb, I love her recipes, I love her attention to detail and her dedication to making things easier for home cooks.  Her preternatural tales for winnowing recipes down to one pot or pan has made it so that she is the only website bookmarked on my phone.  Whenever I have an idea for a meal or want to know something more about a recipe I check in with Smitten Kitchen first (usually followed by a check in with Ina, Nigella, Kenji, and Stella just to see what else is floating around).  

That being said, sometimes you mess with perfection just because you can’t help yourself.  I have been making Deb’s perfected version of David Leite’s consummate chocolate chunk cookies for years now, and I adore them.  I make them when we have guests to stay and leave warm cookies in people’s rooms.  I make them for tailgates or birthdays.  They are a thing now.  And sometimes I really go nuts and say “But what if I added bacon?” or “Maybe some toasted oats?” or “Oh look, a bag of toffee nuggets!” or "How much chocolate is too much?"

Mmmm...add cocoa powder!
Double chocolate cookies (answer: no amount of chocolate is too much)!
 Several months ago two friends of mine had their first baby, and I jumped on the chance to bring them a meal (yay Joanne, Kieran and baby Clodagh!).  Bringing families postpartum meals is one of my faaaavorite things to do.  Not only do you get to snuggle a sweet babe when you drop off the goods, but you get a chance to really delve into someone’s food joys and think about making something that will deliver love, care, and some essential recovery nutrients.  Two of my college roommates are pregnant now, and I am seriously looking into some Chinese postpartum herbs and coolers with dry-ice so I can ship bone broth cross country! 

Along with a veggie curry, I brought a batch of Consummate Chocolate Chunk Cookies Plus Toffee.  They politely asked me for the cookie recipe several days later, which I promptly ignored.  I usually ignore a first request because I think people are sometimes asking out of politeness and I forget that they asked 5 seconds after the subject is changed.  But they asked again, and then a third time.  So I knuckled down and scratched out the following:

This recipe is based on Deb Perelman's recipe on Smitten Kitchen, which is in turn based on David Leite’s amazing recipe from the NY Times.  If you want to bake these cookies check here first in case you decide you want to bake THOSE cookies.  If you are still here, then proceed below.

  • 1 1/4 cups (10 ounces, 280 grams or 2 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature (if you are strapped for time and didn’t set the butter out you can soften it in the microwave by cutting it up and heating it in 10 second bursts)
  • 1 1/4 cups (240 grams) light brown sugar
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (225 grams) granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons (10 ml) vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons coarse or kosher salt
  • 3 1/2 cups plus 2 teaspoons (yes, really) (445 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 bag Ghiradelli’s milk chocolate chips
  • 1 bag toffee chips
  • Sea salt
  • If you want to include oatmeal, I add in 1/3 cup rolled oats, and take out around 2 tbps of flour :)

Method (after a fashion):
With a hand or stand mixer (I really prefer a stand mixer for this with the paddle attachment), cream the butter and sugars together until light, fluffy and then some, about 3 to 4 minutes.  What is light and fluffy?  Kind of a café au last color, and looking pillowy and increased in volume.  You have whipped air into the butter and sugar — good job!

Now add the eggs, one at a time, and mix on low to combine.  I sometimes scrape down the bowl in between each egg or after two eggs. Then add the vanilla, mix to combine, and then scrape down the bowl again. Sprinkle baking soda, baking powder and salt over dough and mix it until fully combined.  Instead of adding the leaveners into the flour and distributing them evenly into the dough that way, you are doing it here instead.  Mix very well on this step so that the leaveners are really well mixed into the batter at this point, then you won’t have to mix the flour a lot later.

Next, add flour all at once and mix it in short bursts until it almost completely disappears (put on the mixer cover for this one!). You don’t want to over-mix it at this stage. 

Add chocolate chips and toffee chips and mix them in by hand with a spatula or with your dough hook.  Now comes the hard part: cover your bowl with plastic wrap and chill it in the fridge for a minimum of 24 hours and up to 72 hours, although I have totally had it in there up to 5 days are we’re all just fine.

When you want to bake:
Take your dough out of the fridge around 30 minutes to an hour before you want to bake.  You need to warm that dough up a bit so you can scoop it!

Heat oven to 360 degrees and line a couple large baking sheets with parchment paper ( I strongly prefer parchment paper to silicone mats or foil for baking cookies!) Form dough into 3 1/2-ounce (100 gram) balls, which will seem completely absurd.  They are larger than golf balls, they look absurdly large, but they will give you the proportions you need.  Arrange balls of dough very far apart on sheets (these cookies will be up to 5 inches wide once baked, so I do only 8 cookies per sheet) and sprinkle the tops of each with a few flecks of sea salt.  

Note the spacing (not the burned cookie)!  I only fit 8 cookies on this pan.

For me, the size of the cookie CAN be variable, as long as you make sure each pan has the same size cookie on it.  I have made smaller ones for kids, so the dough ball will be about a golf ball and you just start checking the dough at 11 minutes.  

Bake the larger sized cookies for 12 to 17 minutes, until golden all over.  This is a large time range, but you should start checking around 12 minutes.  They will spread a lot, and each oven is different, so use your first batch to test the correct timing for your own oven.

Cool the cookies on the tray for a few minutes until they are set enough to transfer to a cooling rack.  I find a metal fish spatula works well for this transfer!

So much deliciousness!

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