Thursday, July 9, 2009

Shifting allegiances.

All my life, I've clung to the belief that no chocolate chip cookie recipe could ever overtake the classic Tollhouse version. I've dutifully tried each new recipe as they've emerged, including last year's much-discussed version from the New York Times and the much-touted Jacques Torres' recipe. Every single time, though, I emerged from the experience convinced that the original was still the best. Which always made me feel a little twinge of satisfaction and loyalty.

Today, however, I must admit that I have finally met my match. I thought I'd spend my life happily married to the Tollhouse recipe, content in our groove, calm in the knowledge that I had memorized the recipe somewhere in the neighborhood of 15 years ago and could make cookies anytime, anywhere, given a few simple pantry ingredients. I was wrong.

Thomas Keller's recipe, which has been making the internet rounds in anticipation of the release of the Ad Hoc cookbook this fall, is amazing. It doesn't require cake flour, bread flour, refrigeration, or any of that nonsense. Which, in my opinion, is as it should be.

A chocolate chip cookie should be something you can whip up with the most basic pantry ingredients, not something for which you have to make a special trip to the store. Accordingly, the fanciest thing Keller calls for is a combination of bittersweet and semisweet chocolate.

The cookies bake to a dark brown, with just a touch of gold. Left to their own devices, the cookies are crisp on top and chewy inside (if you like a truly chewy cookie, mist them with water before baking).

The chocolate (I used fèves, as opposed to chopped chocolate) is perfectly oozy and plentiful, while leaving enough real estate for the actual cookie. They're just as easy to make as the Tollhouse cookies (the only extra step is a little sifting) - and, in fact, take even less preparation, since the butter in Keller's recipe is cold.

No waiting around for your butter to get to room temperature, people! You're free!

Ad Hoc Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes approximately 30 3-inch cookies

2 1/3 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
5 ounces 55% (semisweet) chocolate
5 ounces 70 to 72%(bittersweet) chocolate
1/2 lb. cold, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs

Chop the chocolate into chip-sized bits.

Position racks in the lower and upper thirds of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with Silpats or parchment paper.

Sift flour and baking soda into a medium bowl. Stir in the salt.

Put chips in a fine-mesh basket strainer and shake to remove any chocolate “dust” (small fragments).

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, beat half the butter on medium speed until fairly smooth. Add both sugars and the remaining butter, and beat until well combined, then beat for a few minutes, until mixture is light and creamy. Scrape down sides of the bowl. Add eggs one at a time, beating until the first one is incorporated before adding the next and scraping the bowl as necessary. Add dry ingredients and mix on low speed to combine. Mix in chocolate.

Remove bowl from mixer and fold dough with a spatula to be sure the chocolate is evenly incorporated. The dough or shaped cookies can be refrigerated, well wrapped, for up to 5 days or frozen for 2 weeks. Freeze shaped cookies on the baking sheets until firm, then transfer to freezer containers. (Defrost frozen cookies overnight in the refrigerator before baking.)

Using about 2 level tablespoons per cookie, shape dough into balls. Arrange 8 cookies on each pan, leaving about 2 inches between them, because the dough will spread. Bake for 12 minutes, or until the tops are no longer shiny, switching the position and rotating pans halfway through baking.

Cool cookies on the pans on cooling racks for about 2 minutes to firm up a bit, then transfer to the racks to cool completely. Repeat with second batch of cookies. (The cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 days.)

Many thanks to Food Gal for sharing this recipe on her fabulous blog!


~~louise~~ said...

It's hard to believe there is a recipe to surpass Ruth Wakefield's original.

The next time I'm up to baking cookies, (not often I'm afraid, I have a tendency to eat them all!) I will definitely try this recipe. Can chocolate cookies be that liberating? Yes! Can this recipe top the charts? It sure does sound like it!

Thank you so much for sharing Meg, I can't wait to try them!!!

Louisa Edwards said...

These sound great!

Meg Blocker said...

@Louise: It's a pretty close race, but I'm sold on the slightly different proportions of sugar to flour to butter, and on the use of the dark brown sugar. And the two chocolates. Oh, so good...

@Louisa: THEY ARE.

Carolyn Jung said...

So glad you enjoyed the Ad Hoc chocolate chip cookie recipe. It's pretty amazing, huh? My husband is already nudging me to make another batch. Hah! He brought some into his office, too, and one co-worker declared them the best chocolate-chip cookies she's ever tried. And she's tasted many. ;)

Miles said...

We have just made these cookies, without bittersweet (which we couldn't find). I enjoy the amount of salt in this cookie, but I dissent on 2 things:

1) I had serious trouble getting large chunks of the molasses sugar to break down
2) I see no reason to split up the butter and add it at different times.

Please enlighten as to how to fix #1 and what is the reason for # 2.

Meg Blocker said...

@Carolyn: Yes, it's amazing! These are clearly the cookies that will nab me my promotion.


1) Here's a link to tactics to break up solidified brown sugar:

2) I believe the first butter is whipped to add air and mix evenly, while the second batch may stay a bit colder and therefore chunkier/streakier throughout, thereby creating pastry-like texture.

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