I love the America’s Test Kitchen show, Cook’s Illustrated, and their books The Best Recipe (thanks, St. Heave) and The Best Recipe:
Soups and Stews because they take a very deterministic approach to cooking.
I recently checked out The Dessert Bible from the library because I was interested in their analysis of chocolate chip cookies. The recipe is significant because I used to bring chocolate chip cookies in to work once or twice a month to help motivate my development team. I’ve made several variations of the recipe, was never totally happy with it.
Their “Best Chocolate Chip Cookie” recipe is very good. The two major revelations were to mix everything by hand and use Crisco for some of the fat. I have to admit that I’m a bit uneasy about deliberately putting hydrogenated stuff into my food, but the texture is much improved. Besides, chocolate chip cookies aren’t exactly health food.
Another thing worth mentioning is the butter and eggs need to be at room temperature (about 68°F) for the best volume. For butter, this means you should take the stick out at least two hours prior to cooking. The eggs can be immersed in a bowl of warm water for a few minutes.
It’s also important to use baking powder instead of baking soda. Baking powder, which contains baking soda, has higher acidity, which helps the cookie set quickly.
Here’s the recipe:
Chocolate Chip Cookies — Source: The Dessert Bible
8 T (one stick) butter
1/4 C Crisco
1 C brown sugar
1/2 C sugar
2 T vanilla extract
1 egg white
2 C + 2 T flour flour
1/4 t salt
1/4 t baking powder
1/2 bag of Ghiradelli or Guittard chocolate chips
1 C of chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)
- Preheat oven to 375°F.
- Mash the butter and Crisco with a wooden spoon until mostly smooth. Add the brown and white sugar and stir until blended.
- Add the egg, egg white, and vanilla and stir until smooth.
- In a separate bowl (or a large measuring cup), whisk together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir this into the batter until smooth.
- Fold in the chocolate chips.
- Spoon tablespoon sized globs about 1 1/2″ apart on a parchment paper-lined cookie sheet. Cook for 6 minutes, then rotate the pans. Cook another six minutes, or until tops are lightly browned.
- Slide the parchment paper onto a wire rack and cool.