Friday, February 25, 2011

Flat or Fat?

I’m picky about chocolate chip cookies. I’ve perfected my system (which I learned at Star Provisions) of scooping the dough, rolling it into even-sized balls, placing them in neat rows on a parchment-lined sheet pan and storing them in the freezer. Those cute little balls go straight from the freezer to the oven and this technique keeps the cookies from spreading too much and flattening out while baking.

Well, usually. But when I made a chocolate chip cookie recipe from one of my favorite cookbook authors recently, they flattened out, despite my efforts. To the point (no pun intended) that the only that the only high spots were the chocolate chunks.  Perfectionist that I am, I made the recipe a second time, made sure the dough was fully frozen and tried again. It still didn’t work. I gave up, put the dough balls back in the freezer (labeled “Flat Chocolate Cookies”) and baked them up for the neighbors that day a few weeks ago when we were all down at the bottom of our hill shoveling snow and hacking up the ice that trapped us in the hood. No one except me cared what they looked like.

Remember that crème brulee I wrote about in a recent post? I gave most of it to my friend Dena, who lives down the street (she’s the mother of those amazing little red-headed girls Henry and I are so crazy about).

I walked into her kitchen to make my delivery and saw a cookbook opened to “that” chocolate chip cookie recipe which didn’t work for me. I told her about my experience and she reminded me she had asked me some time ago how to avoid flat cookies. Little did I know she was using the same recipe that failed for me!

So here is a recipe that does work. These are crispy and crunchy (but not flat) and they are loaded with chocolate feves. In case you are unfamiliar with them, they are flat chocolate disks which will elevate your chocolate “chip” cookies to an entirely new level.

This recipe comes from the esteemed chocolatier Jacques Torres and was published in the New York Times, which is where I foumd it.  Normally I would be terrified to try anything from him (a chocolatier, I am not), but this one is a winner and anyone can make it.  Even me!  You too, Dena.  Ditch that other recipe!

CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES THAT WORK (adapted from Jacques Torres)

2 cups minus 2 tablespoons cake flour
1 2/3 cups bread flour
1 ¼ teaspoons baking soda
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
2 ½ sticks (1 ¼ cups) unsalted butter
1 ¼ cups light brown sugar
1 cup plus two tablespoons granulated sugar
2 eggs (I used extra-large)
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 ¼ pounds bittersweet chocolate disks or feves (60% cocao content)

Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Set aside.

Using an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars together until very light, about 8 minutes, scraping down bowl several times. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Stir in vanilla extract then reduce speed to low and add dry ingredients. Mix just until combined, 5 to 10 seconds. By hand, stir the chocolate pieces in and blend gently.

Turn the dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap and shape into a disk. Wrap well and refrigerate for at least one hour then scoop out dough with an ice cream scoop. Roll with your hands into uniform balls and place on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Place in freezer and leave them in overnight.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350-degrees. Place frozen dough balls on a Silpat or parchment-lined baking sheet, leaving 2 inches between each ball. Bake for 10 minutes, then rotate pan. Continue to bake for another 7 to 8 minutes or until just golden brown. Do not overbake. Remove to a baking rack to cool completely.

Yield: 70 cookies (if using a 1 ½-inch ice cream scoop)

*  Now if you want to use chocolate chips or chocolate chunks, no biggie.  I just like the way these present themselves with the feves.  "Thin streaks instead of gooey chunks," as Jacques says.  I concur.
*  Jacques also suggests sprinkling the cookies with sea salt before baking.  As much as I love salt, I resisted the impulse and decided to stick with the traditional version.  Bet they would be good with salt, though!
*  I used a 1 1/2-inch scoop, which resulted in smaller cookies, hence the yield of 70.  Obviously, if you want a bigger cookie, use a bigger scoop.  Just pay attention when you bake them as this may extend the baking time slightly.
*  Whole Paycheck Foods usually carries Valrhona feves.  For the batch of cookies I made, I used half bittersweet and half milk chocolate because that's what I had on hand and I like the contrast between the two.  Mix it up anyway you like!
I baked these off so Henry could take them to a co-worker in his office the next day (in exchange for a dozen farm-fresh eggs).  Just as I pulled them out of the oven, Henry suddenly remembered that the co-worker would not be in the office.  Are you kidding, Henry?  Now what am I going to do with these things, especially since they are stored in the pantry and calling my name?!


  1. I am going to try these this week! Hope you two are relaxing in the sun! Henry...put down that computer and take a NAP!

  2. Amazingly easy and really looks delicious. I'm definitely craving for a plate of that right now. Thanks for sharing this wonderful recipe. This is definitely a must do recipe this weekend since I got my Basset Certification.