The Lad has a birthday this week, and that means that I got to make my first-ever School Birthday Treats. It’s rather exciting, but also does kind of point out that my baby boy is now closer to kid than toddler. Anyhow, cakes and cupcakes aren’t allowed (no joke) because they’re too messy, so cookies seemed to be the solution.
Honestly, I didn’t really have it in me to make another cake today, having made three of them last week for the various birthday events we’ve been and will be having to fete the children. My poor stand mixer needs a break!
And, luckily, the recipe for these chocolate chip cookies (which reads much like the recipe from the back of the yellow bag, right up until you have to actually do anything with the ingredients) required no stand mixer, nor even a hand mixer – just a whisk and a spatula. And, the title claims them as “Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies,” which seemed like high praise coming from the people over at Cooks’ Illustrated.
This recipe is all about method, rather than ingredients, so here’s the deal: DON’T bother leaving the butter out to soften, because you end up melting most of it in the process of making the browned butter that lends these cookies both moistness and an almost-savory nutty flavor. DO use room-temperature eggs if you can – they incorporate better and that homogeneity enhances the chewiness of the final cookie. If you need to warm them up quickly, just put them in a bowl of warm water while the butter is browning. DON’T cut corners on the whisking and resting times – they’re key to getting the right texture. DO make these cookies on the large size – it gives them the nice balance of crispy and chewy that makes them really special.
Finally, DO make more than one batch if you think you’re going to want more than a bite. Only the “Good Mommy” in me is preventing me from keeping these for myself and sending The Lad to school with Hoodsie Cups for his classmates.
Browned-butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
(adapted, barely, from Cooks’ Illustrated)
1¾ cups flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
14 tablespoons unsalted butter
½ cup granulated sugar
¾ cups packed dark brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1¼ cups semisweet chocolate chips
Put oven rack in the middle position and preheat to 375-degrees F. Line 2 large baking sheets with Silpats or parchment paper.
Combine flour and baking soda in medium bowl and set aside.
Melt 10 tablespoons of the butter over medium-high heat in a medium skillet, then continue cooking, swirling pan constantly, until butter is dark golden brown and has nutty aroma. (Watch very carefully, because the browning will really pick up after 1 or 2 minutes, and you don’t want the butter to burn.) Remove skillet from heat and transfer browned butter to large heatproof bowl, scraping all the butter and browned bits out of the skillet with a heat-proof spatula. Whisk remaining 4 tablespoons butter into the hot butter until completely melted.
Add the granulated and brown sugars, salt, and vanilla to bowl with butter and whisk until combined. Add egg and yolk, and whisk until mixture is smooth with no sugar lumps remaining. Let mixture stand 3 minutes, then whisk for 30 seconds. Repeat the resting and whisking 2 more times, until mixture is thick, smooth and shiny.
Using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, stir the flour mixture into the butter and sugar mixture until just combined, then stir in chocolate chips.
Divide dough into 16 portions, each about 3 tablespoons, and arrange 8 balls of dough, spaced 2 inches apart, on each of the prepared baking sheets
Bake cookies 1 tray at a time until cookies are golden brown and still puffy, and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft, 10 to 14 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking.
Transfer baking sheet to wire rack; cool cookies completely before serving.
Makes 16 cookies.