Monday, November 24, 2008

The perfect cookie

Take it from me, this is *the* Platonic chocolate chip cookie. The kind of chocolate chip cookie all industrially manufactured soulless mass-produced chocolate cookies wish they could be but never will. This cookie will make all other cookies shrivel up in disgust at their own inadequacy. Make this cookie once and you'll never use another chocolate chip cookie recipe again.

All those close and dear to me have heard me wax lyrical about this recipe for a while now. Three things set it apart: 1) bittersweet chocolate chips, 2) sprinkled coarse salt before baking, and 3) letting the dough sit for at least 24 hours, if not 36. It seems counter-intuitive that salt would make such a huge difference to something sweet, but it does. It imparts an unusual depth and complexity made even more extraordinary by the fact that one doesn't usually think of chocolate chip cookies as particularly sophisticated baked goods-- in fact, there are few things as simple or elemental-- but trust me on this one, it's all about the salt.

I've used this recipe twice but today was the first time we could "empirically" test whether or not letting the dough sit longer actually makes the cookies taste better. We baked up the first batch yesterday for the dismal Michigan-OSU football game and the other half for Finn's fourth birthday today. While they already tasted awesome yesterday, there a definite difference to today's cookies. A richer, almost toffee-like flavor, for sure. And a fuller mouthfeel, if that makes any sense. Jenn asked whether perfection could be perfected some more, and I say, Yup, it sure can :)

I suspect part of it also has to do with the size of these things. Because they are so big, the edges and outside get all crunchy and toasty while leaving the center still chewy and gooey from the crazy amount of chocolate chips. Like how the perfect chocolate chip cookie should be. If this post doesn't make you run out and make these cookies right this minute, read the original NYT article. You will :)

[P/S: The recipe makes several very large cookies so be prepared to share. I'm the last person to advocate restraint when it comes to anything chocolate and no one will begrudge you for wanting to hoard these cookies for yourself, but something this wonderful should also be generously shared, so go ahead, spread the love!]

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