September 25, 2009

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Got some classic Nestle Tollhouse cookie recipe cookies here.

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) chocolate chips
1 cup chopped nuts (optional--I left them out)

Preheat your oven 375 degrees while you get your ingredients ready.

Please, please, please, PLEASE don't soften butter in the microwave. Ideally, butter that is softened is basically room temperature. The best way to soften it is to cut the butter into small pieces and let it rest an hour before baking, assuming you can't just leave it out all day for some reason. Microwaving it melts random pockets of butter and doesn't soften other parts, so you end up with butter that's all wrong for making delicious cookies. So, plan your cookie baking in advance, as much as you possibly can so that your butter will be just right for giving you chewy, awesome cookies.

You'll need two sticks for this recipe:

With these sticks of butter, cream in 3/4c of plain white sugar and 3/4c of brown sugar. I prefer using dark brown to light brown whenever I can. I prefer the depth of flavor and color it gives to cookies baked with it. Also, I fairly recently bought some fancy-schmancy vanilla beans, made some epic cupcakes, and put the used bean in a baggie with some sugar to make delicious vanilla sugar. I like using that for, well, pretty much everything. However, it's hardly a requirement, and non-vanilla sugar works just as deliciously. Regardless of sugar used, add a teaspoon of vanilla extract to the other "wet" ingredients, being the sugar and the butter, and get them all creamed together.

I didn't photograph the two eggs, but add them in at this point, mixing them in one at a time. You want to get a lot of air in this, so you want the butter particles well hacked up by sugar granules before you add the eggs, and the last thing you want is under-mixed egg!

Now, for the dry ingredients. Get the flour, baking soda, and salt mixed together. I'm really lackadasical about sifting flour, honestly. Flour sifting used to be a necessity, but modern flours are very thoroughly pre-sifted and are much softer than flours used to be, so I don't often bother. For very finicky baked recipes, I probably would still sift (you know the ones... Where you measure the flour by weight or risk baked good horror) but for something like completely foolproof cookies? Nah. It's almost traditional to do so, however, so if you insist on sifting flour all the time, you won't get judged by me. I also can't ever see myself baking finicky pastries, but if you do, let me know how it goes!

Add your flour in parts to the wet ingredients, blending completely after each addition. This does a couple of things: It gets your flour in thoroughly, so you don't end up with clumps, and it keeps flour from exploding all over the place when you start mixing. When you're done, you'll have something that looks like this:

Now, for the best part! Adding the chips! Two cups (or so, I think I had a little less, since I eyeballed it and I always seem to under measure stuff like that when I eyeball) of semi-sweet chocolate, please! I am usually all about the milk chocolate, and I've made these cookies with milk chocolate before, but they are burningly sweet unless the chocolate has at least a little bit of bitterness, so I strongly advocate semi-sweet.

Now, eat the dough right out of the bowl with your big, honking, wooden spoon. Kidding, kidding! Well, mostly.

Now, at this point, you can do two things: You can roll the cookies into balls and bake them up, or you can roll the cookies into balls and freeze the dough for later baking. You'd bake the cookies straight from the freezer (which can make for a thick, chewy, and delightful cookie!) if you chose the second option, and this way, you can have a ready supply of cookie dough whenever you get the urge for fresh-baked cookies.

I, however, am not that forward-thinking, so I baked them. How could I not? They look so GOOD!

The original recipe says nine to eleven minutes, at 375 degrees, but I suggest starting with seven minutes and adding time as necessary. Mine baked in about 7-8 minutes. Look for just a little bit of browning right around the bottom edges. They'll spread quite a bit, so don't focus on being particularly economic with your pan space. I always put too many cookies on a pan. Don't be like me.

Whatever, I have no regrets. LOOK at these!

Holy sugary deliciousness, Batman!

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