Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

I think that just about everyone I know is constantly on a search for the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe. Most (myself included) have been let down by the recipe on the back of the Nestle Tollhouse chocolate chip bag, and there are many recipes floating around the Internet that seem to gain popularity and become fads before dying off when people move on to the latest and greatest. I was really please with the cookie I created last fall, as it resulted in the chewy texture I was looking for. But these Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies, they really take the cake. Big, beautiful, bakery-quality chocolate chip cookies. It’s official – my love affair with America’s Test Kitchens and the Baking Illustrated cookbook continues!

More on the cookies, another PSA for weighing dry ingredients, and the recipe after the break…

The secret to the thick and chewy cookies is the combination of using melted butter, an extra egg yolk, and a higher ratio of brown sugar to white sugar. Also, definitely follow the instructions for making jagged edges on the top of the cookie – this gives them the crinkled and craggly bakery cookie look. In order to ensure mine were all about the same size, I busted out my scale (more on my weighing infatuation in a minute). Each ball of dough should weigh around 2.15 oz.

Also heed the instructions to remove the cookies from the oven as soon as the outsides are set but the centers are still puffy and soft. Doing so plays a large part in the resulting texture. Cooling the cookies on the baking sheets means they will continue to bake after being taken out of the oven, but without the circulating air of a cooling rack, they will retain their soft texture. I know for me it is often hard to take cookies out of the oven unless they look completely done, but have faith! You don’t want to overbake these in the oven!

Why should you weigh your ingredients? Since I began baking bread more often I started reading about how important it is to weigh the ingredients, as there is quite a delicate balance between the flour, yeast, and liquid used in most bread recipes. I haven’t really encountered weight measurement outside of breads, but this cookie recipe in Baking Illustrated provided weight measurements for the dry ingredients. To see how close I was I did a regular measurement and then weighed it. In all of the cases, my measurements came out 1-2 ounces more than the weight measurement provided in the recipe. It becomes easy to see how a heavy-handed scoop could turn thick and chewy cookies into dry and dense cookies! So, I would encourage all of you to invest in a kitchen scale and use it, use it, use it!!

{EDIT 9/1/2011} I receive a lot of questions about the shaping method used for these cookies (the pulling apart, turning, and smooshing back together), and sometimes it can be hard to explain. I LOVE the method and the results and I wanted to make sure you all had the same experience, so I’ve scanned the illustration of how to shape them so you can get a visual of the process:

Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Yield: About 18 large cookies

Prep Time: 30 minutes

Cook Time: 15 to 18 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

Ingredients:

2 cups plus 2 tablespoons (10 5/8 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled until warm
1 cup packed (7 ounces) light or dark brown sugar
1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1-1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

Directions:

1. Adjust the oven racks to the upper- and lower-middle positions and heat the oven to 325 degrees. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper or spray them with nonstick cooking spray.

2. Whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl; set aside.

3. Either by hand or with an electric mixer, mix the butter and sugars until thoroughly blended. Beat in the egg, yolk, and vanilla until combined. Add the dry ingredients and beat at low speed just until combined. Stir in the chips to taste.

4. Roll a scant 1/4 cup of the dough into a ball. Hold the dough ball with the fingertips of both hands and pull into 2 equal halves. Rotate the halves 90 degrees and, with jagged surfaces facing up, join the halves together at their base, again forming a single ball, being careful not to smooth the dough's uneven surface. Place the formed dough balls on the prepared baking sheets, jagged surface up, spacing them 2 1/2 inches apart.

5. Bake until the cookies are light golden grown and the outer edges start to harden yet the centers are still soft and puffy, 15 to 18 minutes, rotating the baking sheets front to back and top to bottom halfway through the baking time. Cool the cookies on the sheets. Remove the cooled cookies from the baking sheets with a side metal spatula.

Note: These oversized cookies are chewy and thick, like many of the chocolate chip cookies sold in gourmet shops and cookie stores. They rely on melted butter and an extra egg yolk to keep their texture soft. These cookies are best served warm from the oven but will retain their texture even when cooled. To ensure the proper texture, cool the cookies on the baking sheet. Oversized baking sheets allow you to get all the dough into the oven at one time. If you're using smaller baking sheets, put fewer cookies on each sheet and bake them in batches.

(Recipe adapted from Baking Illustrated)