03 February 2011

Sea Salt Chocolate Chip Cookies

This weekend was our annual group trip to Mt. Hood. We had a record number this year of 10 people and a shorter weekend than usual, so meals were divided up further. We tacked on to Michael's delicious dinner of lamb and polenta lasagna (weighing in at about 8 lbs, not counting the pan!) and made caesar salad, bread, and dessert. But who cares about salad?? Let's get on to the dessert.

Since I knew we'd be out in the cold, snowy weather (ha ha...right), I thought we needed a warm dessert. And what's better than a warm chocolate chip cookie? So I went scouring the internet for a great chocolate chip and sea salt recipe and found an article from the NY Times about the perfect chocolate chip cookie. The article is actually pretty interesting if you're into that sort of thing, so I recommend reading it if you have time. I found a lot of other salted chocolate chip cookie recipes that were thin and crisp--they have their place too--but for a heaping scoop of ice cream and some Holy Kakow, you need a big, soft cookie.

Chocolate Chip Cookies
Published: July 9, 2008 in NY Times
Adapted from Jacques Torres
Time: 45 minutes (for 1 6-cookie batch), plus at least 24 hours’ chilling

2 cups minus 2 tablespoons (8 1/2 ounces) cake flour*
1 2/3 cups (8 1/2 ounces) bread flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) light brown sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (8 ounces) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract
1 1/4 pounds bittersweet chocolate disks or fèves, at least 60 percent cacao content (Carmel's note: did not use disks and it turned out fine...the cacao content is VERY important, though)
Sea salt (Carmel's 2nd note: I bought a small amount of grey sea salt from the bulk spices section of New Seasons--economical and delicious!)

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

2. Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment,** cream butter and sugars together until very light, about 5 minutes. 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.

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

4. Scoop 6 3 1/2-ounce mounds of dough (the size of generous golf 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, 18 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.

Yield: 1 1/2 dozen 5-inch cookies.

*Given the very specific measurements of flour in this recipe, I highly recommend using a food scale if you have one.
**I don't have a paddle attachment for my (ahem) economical stand mixer, but a hand mixer works just fine. But be patient as creaming the sugars and butter may take a few extra minutes.

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