“Everything I’ve ever let go of has claw marks on it.” – David Foster Wallace, an excerpt from Infinite Jest.
I bake cookies often. Not for any particular reason, other than I find them the most efficient thing to satisfy in times of sweet craving. There’s an entire section dedicated to cookies in the left of my freezer, with at least one hundred dough balls stashed. They sit tightly contained next to discs of pie dough and left-over streusel, from the times I made too much. All labeled and categorised according to date and type. There’s bags of classic chocolate chip and bags of my favourite spelt dark chocolate chunk kind. There’s bags of brown butter and milk chocolate too. And then there’s a bag filled with the miscellaneous type. A few cookies made with sour cherries and hazelnut, a few cookies made with peanut butter chips. And the odd, stray, m&m. The miscellaneous bag is known to be either hit or miss. And yet, I still keep them. For my taste preferences shift on whim and change as fast as the strength of season. A Classic Chocolate Chip Cookie though, will forever be a favourite.
These are my ultimate Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies. Crisply golden, with molten flecks and chewy middles. They contain a high ratio of dark chocolate. And fleur de sel in replacement of the usual flaked salt. They’re slightly more classic in character than my favourite spelt kind. With these, you won’t find the all-encompassing puddles of chocolate as you would in the spelt rendition. (If you’re after that kind of cookie, click here). Instead, you’ll find a wholehearted cookie, that dedicates itself to flecks of molten chocolate, rather than surface based swimming pools of it. It’s a great, classic, chocolate chip cookie. As the few remaining in my freezer will attest.
This recipe utilises the method of creaming butter and sugar. It's an important step as perfectly creamed ingredients yield's a dense and aerated cookie, characteristics associated with the classic type. The time stipulated should be used only as a guide, as a range of factors come into play, such as, the climate, the heat in the kitchen and temperature of the butter. What you’re looking for, is a mixture that firstly begins to resemble the texture of wet sand, then, after continuous beating, will begin to loosen and turn into a mixture that's lightened in color and fluffy in texture.
I use a dark chocolate block that contains a minimum of 70% cacao solids. The slightly bitter edge compliments all the cookie sweetness, perfectly. If you prefer a more mild and sweeter cookie, use a dark chocolate that contains less than 55% cacao solids. Try to use the best quality block of dark chocolate you can find too, not chocolate chips. I often use a Callebaut block for my cookies.
I like to use a tapping technique, inspired by the The Vanilla Bean Baking Bookto help spread and melt the chocolate within. The technique gives the cookies those surface based pools and puddles of chocolate. You don't have to do it, the cookies can be baked regularly. But, if you want the chocolate pools, it'll help achieve that. It’s something a little extra that makes a slight alteration in appearance. The delicious cookie taste remains the same, regardless.
I recommend chilling the dough for at least 30 minutes before baking. Chilling gives the dough time to rest and results in a flavorful cookie with a tighter shape. You could also choose to chill the dough overnight, which allows for greater gluten development and yield’s a slightly darker cookie with a more distinct taste. There’s a time and a place for both methods, so, the choice is yours. I’m impartial either way.
CLASSIC CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES
355 grams all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon espresso powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon salt
250 grams unsalted butter, cubed and at room temperature
175 grams granulated sugar
125 grams light brown sugar
2 medium eggs, at room temperature
1 tablespoon vanilla bean extract
400 grams dark chocolate, roughly chopped
Fleur de sel or flaked salt, for final sprinkling
In a medium sized mixing bowl, whisk together the all-purpose flour, baking powder, espresso powder, baking soda and salt. Set the dry ingredient mixture aside until needed.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the beater attachment, or using hand-held electric beaters, beat together the butter, granulated sugar and light brown sugar on medium speed, until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Pause as needed to scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl to ensure thorough mixing.
Add in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Again, pause mixing to scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl. Add in the vanilla bean extract and beat for a further minute, until well combined. The dough should be considerably lightened in colour.
Set the mixer speed to medium-low and add in half the dry ingredients. Beat until roughly combined, then, add in the remainder of the dry ingredients. Beat for a further 30 seconds, or until just combined. Add in the roughly chopped dark chocolate and beat until evenly combined, about 15 more seconds.
Remove the bowl from the stand mixer and cover it in a thin layer of plastic wrap. Set the bowl in the refrigerator to chill for about 30 minutes. If you choose to chill the dough for a longer period of time, see the notes, above.
Meanwhile, pre-heat the oven to 180 Celsius. Line three large baking sheets with non-stick parchment paper. Set aside.
Remove the dough bowl from the refrigerator. Using a small cookie scoop (1” or 2.5 cm) or a generous tablespoon as a measure, scoop out as many cookie balls as possible from the dough. Arrange the dough balls evenly amongst the sheets, then sprinkle over a little of the fleur de sel or flaked salt. You should be able to fit about 8 dough balls per sheet, depending upon size. If you have some dough-balls left-over, either set them aside in the refrigerator to chill whilst the other cookies bake, or seal and store them in the freezer, to bake off later.
Bake, for 9 to 11 minutes. Three quarters of the way into baking (about 8 minutes), open the oven door and raise the cookie sheet by a few inches (The cookies should just be beginning to puff in the middle). Use a little force to tap it against the oven rack, so that the cookies de-flate slightly. You should see the chocolate begin to spread. Close the oven door and let the cookies bake and inflate again, for a further 30 seconds. Again, repeat the raising and tapping process above for a total of 3 times. The cookies should be golden, crisp around the edges and the middles should be just set with chocolate puddles throughout. Remove from the oven and let the cookies cool on their baking trays for 10 minutes, before carefully transferring them to a wire rack to further cool slightly, before serving.