When people hear I’m a pastry chef, they often ask similar questions, like “What’s your favorite thing to make?” and “What’s your favorite dessert to eat?” I never know how to answer the first question because, seriously, it’s work. I enjoy it, but it’s still a job, it’s not like I waltz into the kitchen every morning and make whatever the spirit inspires me to make. (This is not the usual answer I give, because I want people to think I’m nice. Suckers.)
The second question is equally tricky. While I’d love to dazzle people with my well-refined pastry palate, the truth is that I’m really a cookie and brownie girl at heart. If I’m going to bake for myself, it’s probably going to be some variation of soft, gooey, chocolatey cookies or bars. That’s why this week’s recipe, for Dorie’s “Best-Ever Chocolate Chip Cookies,” was made several weeks ago…any excuse for a chocolate chip cookie!
But before we get to the good stuff, we must discuss the not-so-good stuff; that is, how these cookies originally turned out. Any cookie called “Best-Ever”deserves some respect, so I followed the recipe to the letter, even going so far as to time the beating of the butter and sugar to make sure I got the right results. And what I got was this:
Flat, crispy cookie frisbees with some chocolate chunks. Now I know there are some heathens out there who insist on crunchy chocolate chip cookies, but I’ve never tolerated them OR their brittle pucks (apologies if this applies to you–change your mind and we can be friends again), so you can imagine my dismay when I realized I’d produced a batch of the offending cookies in my very own oven. The culprit was obvious: too much butter and too much beating time produced cookies that spread far too much.
Instead of scrapping the rest of the dough, I put it back in the mixer, added more flour (I think about 1/2 cup more) and a touch of baking powder, and baked off another test batch. MUCH better! (Original batch on the right, extra-flour batch on left.)
Now THIS is a cookie I can believe might be someone’s “best.” Crisp around the edges, but still very soft–almost a touch underbaked–in the middle. I didn’t go too crazy with the flavors, because I tend to be a traditionalist…just added some toasted pecans to half the dough to give it a little crunch.
I think I might laminate this picture and keep it in my wallet, so that next time someone asks my favorite dessert, I can brandish it proudly and declare, “the humble chocolate chip cookie!” And then wipe off their drool.