Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The Famous 36-Hour Cookie

I’m back at it with the chocolate chip cookies! David Leite led his own quest for the best chocolate chip cookie (New York Times article here); the resulting recipe is the catalyst that started me on this path to trying more chocolate chip cookie recipes, and it influenced both recipes I’ve posted after this one today. That’s why I waited a while to post this recipe, even though I first made it a few months ago. (Incidentally, these are the cookies I made as part of the payment for our shooting lesson.)

I call it the 36-hour cookie because the dough is refrigerated for about 36 hours before baking (though really, it’s anywhere between 24 and 72 hours, unless you freeze some like I did); this helps develop the flavor. The cookies themselves are big (6 to a sheet instead of 12), plump and perfectly chewy, and are probably the best-looking cookies I’ve made. By that, I mean they wouldn’t look out of place in a professional bakery. And they taste absolutely fantastic! This recipe is a definite keeper and is right at the top of my list of best cookies (all categories).

I measured ingredients by volume here, not by weight, but the link I gave you in the first paragraph gives you the recipe with weights as well if you wish. I don’t keep cake flour on hand (I have no fewer than 5 types of wheat flours already, plus all the gluten-free ones, and the pantry is full), so I used a mix of all-purpose flour and corn starch as a substitute. I used margarine instead of butter (no lactose that way), and chocolate chips instead of chocolate disks, which I couldn’t find. The sea salt is optional (I didn’t use it, because I already have two recipes for salted chocolate chip cookies). The recipe below makes 18 cookies, but they are big cookies, and it’s about equivalent to 3 dozen regular-sized ones. Leftover dough freezes beautifully.

2 cups minus 2 Tbsp cake flour (or 1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour + 2 Tbsp corn starch)
1 2/3 cups bread flour
1 ¼ tsp baking soda
1 ½ tsp baking powder
1 ½ tsp coarse salt
2 ½ sticks (1 ¼ cups) unsalted margarine (or butter)
1 ¼ cups light brown sugar
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp natural vanilla extract
1 ¼ lbs bittersweet chocolate disks or fèves, ideally 60% cacao content (I used Ghiradelli’s semisweet chocolate chips)
sea salt (optional)

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

Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream margarine and sugars together until very light, about 3-5 minutes (but do not overmix). Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. Reduce speed to low, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds. Drop chocolate pieces in and incorporate them without breaking them. Press plastic wrap against dough and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours. Dough may be used in batches, and can be refrigerated for up to 72 hours or frozen.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 °F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Set aside.

Scoop 6 3 ½-oz mounds of dough (the size of generous golf balls; I used an ice cream scoop, but did not weigh the balls) onto baking sheet, making sure to turn horizontally any chocolate pieces that are poking up; it will make for a more attractive cookie. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and bake until golden brown but still soft, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer sheet to a wire rack for 10 minutes, then slip cookies onto another rack to cool a bit more. Repeat with remaining dough, or reserve dough, refrigerated, for baking remaining batches the next day. Eat warm, with a big napkin.

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