Back to school + lunch = cookies

September 2, 2008

All summer the internet has been abuzz about the NY Times Chocolate Chip Cookie secret. According to this much-read and discussed article written by David Leite, resting the dough is the key to making THE BEST COOKIE ever. One person he interviewed explained that as the dough rests, the moisture from the eggs has time to penetrate the butter-coated flour and create a superior texture.

As you know, I’m not a food scientist but a chef-trained food writer. That’s why I’m somewhat proud of the fact that my own signature chocolate chip recipe has always been make-ahead. In my 2002 book Pantry Raid (now sadly out of print), I had half a chapter of freezer dough cookies and chocolate chip was the basic recipe from which many of the other recipes were derived.

While I haven’t tried the NY Times recipe that bloggers like Hélène are raving about, I did make a batch of my own recipe this weekend to fill Oliver’s lunch box as he heads back to school (grade 7!).

Here’s my recipe. Feel free to try it and let me know how it compares to the NY Times version. Who knows, you might encourage me to try something new. Or not. I make no promises.

Dana’s Make-Ahead Chocolate Chunk Cookies (adapted from Pantry Raid)

1 cup (250 mL) softened butter
1 cup (250 mL) packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup (125 mL) granulated sugar
2 eggs
2 tsp (10 mL) pure vanilla extract
2 3/4 cups (675 mL) all-purpose flour
1 tsp (5 mL) baking soda
1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt
2 cups (500 mL) chopped bittersweet chocolate

Cream butter in a large bowl. Beat in brown sugar and granulated sugar until very smooth. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until combined. Stir in vanilla. Add flour, baking soda and salt. Stir until well combined. Add chocolate chips and mix until combined.

Use a tiny (1 oz/28 mL) ice cream scoop or a melon baller to scoop balls of cookie dough. If necessary, roll between lightly floured hands to make evenly shaped balls (if you leave jagged edges the cookies will bake unevenly). Place on a wax paper-lined tray and set in the freezer for 15 minutes or until firm. Transfer to a zip-top plastic bag or other airtight container and reserve in freezer until ready to bake. (Alternatively, roll dough into long cylinders about 2 inches (5 cm) wide then slice thickly before baking, at 350oF (180oC) for 10 minutes. The final cookies won’t look as pretty as the scooped version but if scooping makes your hand tired, this is a still tasty alternative.)

To bake: Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C). Spread cookie nuggets out on a lightly greased baking sheet at least 2 inches (5 cm) apart. Thaw for 30 minutes and flatten gently with the heel of your hand (to resemble the dough in the picture above) for thinner, crisper cookies; or, bake from frozen for thicker cookies. In either case, bake cookies for 10 to 12 minutes or until edges are crisp and bottoms are golden brown. Makes about 6 dozen cookies.