Lisa Yockelson’s enthusiasm for baking is boundless and her latest cookbook, Baking Style: Art, Craft, Recipes (Wiley),showcases her passion over 500 glossy, intense pages. She welcomes you, the reader, as a fellow journeyman, and encourages you—nay, reaches out and grabs you—to join her in her quest to make your favorite recipes even better. It’s a journey I was happy to take. In a cookbook chock-a-block with recipes I wanted to try, it was hard to pick one. Maple-glazed donuts? Pull-apart cinnamon bread? Maybe a brownie cheesecake for the family? I decided to go basic. There is no better test of a chef than how they treat a chocolate chip cookie.
Like Yockelson, I have been on a personal quest to find the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe, trolling the Internet and cookbooks for the past few years. I’ve come close, but still haven’t found The One.
Yockelson offers four to choose from, and I had to read carefully to understand the subtle nuances between them. One was cake-like, another rich with bittersweet chocolate, and a third was butterscotch-y and chewy. I opted for the “Wild One,” a recipe that promised crisp on the outside, and chewy and chocolaty on the inside.
The recipe strayed from the standard back of the bag Tollhouse recipe with a higher butter-to-flour ratio and the use of three different sugars—count ‘em three! —dark brown, light brown and white. The result was a cookie with a caramelized and crumbly edge and a pillow-soft middle. For all my worry about the sugar, sugar, sugar, the butter, butter, butter took care of it. This made for a dreamy chocolate chip cookie. I would even venture to say my dream cookie.
3 cups unsifted bleached all-purpose flour
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
¾ pound plus 6 tablespoons (3 sticks plus 6 tablespoons) unsalted butter, softened
2/3 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
2/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
3 cups semisweet chocolate chips
Makes about 32 cookies
For the dough, sift the flour, baking soda, and salt onto a sheet of waxed paper.
Cream the butter in the large bowl of a freestanding electric mixer on moderate speed for 1 minute, or until just smooth. Add the dark brown sugar and beat for 45 seconds; add the light brown sugar and beat for 45 seconds longer. Add the granulated sugar and beat for 45 seconds longer. Blend in the eggs and beat on the low speed for 1 minute, or just until incorporated. Blend in the vanilla extract. On low speed, blend in the sifted ingredients in 2 additions, beating just until the flour particles are absorbed. Scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl frequently with a rubber spatula to keep the dough even-textured. Remove the bowl from the mixer. Add the chocolate chips and work them in, using a sturdy rubber spatula or wooden spoon. The dough will be creamy, moderately dense and packed with chips.
Divide the dough into thirds and turn each portion onto a sheet of food-safe plastic wrap, seal completely, and refrigerate overnight (or for at least 8 hours).
On baking day, remove the packets of chilled dough from the refrigerator.
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
Line several cookie sheets or rimmed sheet pans with lengths of ovenproof parchment paper.
Place level 3-tablespoon-size mounds of dough on the prepared baking pans, spacing the mounds about 3 inches apart, and arranging 6 mounds on each standard-size sheet. Keep the top and edges of the mounds rough-textured.
Bake the cookies in the preheated oven for 13 to 14 minutes, or until just firm. The edges will be slightly darker (a medium golden color) than the centers; the centers should be just set and not wet-looking. Let the cookies stand on the baking pans for 1 minute, then transfer them to cooling racks, using a wide offset metal spatula. Cool completely. Store in an airtight tin.