Thursday, May 21, 2015

Chocolate Chip Cookie Week: Perfect Pillowy Chocolate Chip Cookies

This morning while finishing last night's dishes, contemplating why there are so many recipes for the chocolate chip cookie, I envisioned an event I call the Great Cookie Council of Heaven.

I imagine, before we came to earth all the baking, cookie minded people of the future world gathered together and our loving Heavenly Father says, "Ok, guys. You've enjoyed perfect baking conditions up here in the pre-existence. No adjustments for altitude, humidity, or screaming three-year-olds in the background."

We all chuckle knowingly, not really knowing what a screaming three-year-old was like.

He continues, "In all seriousness, I'm so pleased you have chosen to go down, but it is going to be rough. But, I love you and I know what you love- you love to bake, and to eat and share what you bake. I know some of you have been concerned about this in particular. So, it is all set up. There will be baking on earth."

There is much rejoicing. I do a silent fist pump in the air, Napoleon Dynamite style. Martha Stewart does a Toyota jump in the corner. Much rejoicing.

He smiles at us. "I knew that would make you happy. I mean, you'll have to use hot pads, and sometimes the cake will fall  and the cookies will end in a charred burning mess, and you'll forget the salt in the batch of Thanksgiving rolls, but you're going to be fine."

Again, we smile knowingly, not really knowing what Thanksgiving rolls are and how critical they are for the entire meal, let alone for the left overs.

"You are going to be fine. More than fine. You're going to learn about, have joy. So, before you all start leaving, I want to give you something."

We all gasp as before us appears the perfect chocolate chip cookie. It is perfectly golden, not under or over-baked, crisp, moist, dense, light, chewy, chocolatey, served on a perfectly warmed plate. It is perfect. We all munch appreciatively, while discussing how perfect this cookie is, and we all agree about the taste and texture and how we are going to re-create this beauty on earth...where there will be baking!

Then we get here and start baking! And I've kind of forgotten exactly what that perfect cookie tasted like. So I make one batch that reminds me that I love to bake. I try another batch which is awesome, but takes three days (!?!). And then I try this recipe which I LOVE because it is perfectly pillowy.

Pillowy, and not cakey, is the best adjective for this cookie because that is what they are. They are to your mouth what a nice down pillow is to your head at the end of a day filled with [insert preferred form of stress]. They aren't too heavy, which makes it dangerously easy to eat 2-6 in a day. And the pillowy-ness of the cookie tends to invite itself to my breakfast routine. I make them oversized, and slightly underbaked so you get a crisp ring of needed buttery crisp, followed by a middle of excellently light, but substantial cookie, and a center that is barely set up.

I love using coarse salt because it adds a surprising crunch and saltiness. My husband doesn't like that surprise, so sometimes I'll use just regular salt, but use less. Also, this dough is so versatile! I'm only posting chocolate chip cookies in their purest, unadulterated form this week, but I do love to take this dough, add almond extract, dried cherries and milk chocolate. Or, a patriotic mix of dried blueberries, white chocolate chunks, and dried cranberries. (God bless America!)

Back to my crazy cookie council. I think once we're all back together in heaven, ready to fully understand the mysteries of the universe, all of us bakers and cookie lovers will run past the workshop titled "Particle Physics and Me: What you didn't get on Earth," we'll slow slightly at "How Dinosaurs Really Fit into the Creation Story," but promise ourselves to catch the rebroadcast, and head directly to "Personal Legends Fulfilled: The Quest for the Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie." There we will find those perfect cookies again, on perfectly warmed plates, and we'll eat them and there will be much rejoicing.

Emeril shouts, "BAM!"
Martha does another Toyota jump.
My fist pump is no longer silent.

And Heavenly Father will say, "You guys were so close!  Cort, I loved those blog posts, by the way. But you knew that, because you knew that cookies brought you joy, and that brought me joy."

And we'll all smile knowingly this time because we'll remember this perfect cookie we spent our lives trying to perfect on Earth, and this time we'll know what He means.

Perfect Pillowy Chocolate Chip Cookies

(makes 15-18 hefty sized cookies)

  • 2 1/4 cups flour (if at high altitudes, add another couple tbs)
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 14 tbs unsalted butter, room temperature (you can use salted, too)
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tsp coarse salt, or 1/2 tsp regular salt
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 2 cups chocolate chips
  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Cream butter and sugars until pale and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs, salt and vanilla and mix until combined.
  3. Add the flour and baking soda. Mix until just combined. Add in the chocolate chips. 
  4. Scoop onto cookie sheet using a spoon, or my favorite method, an ice cream scoop, using about 1/4 cup dough per cookie. 
  5. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until edges are slightly brown. The longer you cook them, the more likely the cookies will go from "pillowy" to "cakey," which is still good, but less perfect. :)
  6. Cool on pan for about 2 minutes. Transfer to a cooling rack to continue cooling. Best served warm!

These are about 1 1/2 minutes too long. So they were still great, but not as pillowy as the ones I made yesterday.
By the way, this dough freezes and then bakes phenomenally well!

Make the dough. Share the cookies! 

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