August 15, 2013
Recipe: Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies
These cookies? These gooey, decadent, chocolate chip cookies? They are vegan. They are whole wheat. And they may well be the best damn cookies you've ever eaten. At the very least, this recipe will replace whatever chocolate chip cookie recipe you've been using, because holy-mother-of-delicious, these cookies are fantastic. I could spend the next few paragraphs explaining to you the ins-and-outs of how I got to this recipe - an epic and entertaining tale of recipe development - but that would only delay you making a batch and tasting the awesomeness for yourself, which you really, really need to do as soon as possible.
The mind-blowing goodness of these cookies comes down to their texture and depth of flavor, both of which are achieved through a 24-36 hour chilling of the dough (you can read about the magic of dough hydration here). Texture-wise, they're everything you want in a chocolate chip cookie, with crisp, lacy edges and a crinkly top fading into a moist, chewy center oozing with pockets of melted chocolate. Flavor-wise, they're everything you want your chocolate chip cookie to be and so much more. The nutty whole wheat flour, fragrant oil, and earthy-sweet molasses meld into a complex toffee flavor that is a million times greater than the sum of its parts. The final touch - shards of sea salt baked into the tops - pushes the cookies over the edge into baked good nirvana. Nirvana, I tell you.
Ok, enough talk. Go to your kitchen and make these bad boys. Life is short, and you deserve the perfect chocolate chip cookies.
Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies
Inspired by The New York Times, Isa Chandra Moskowitz, and Great Harvest Bread Co.
makes 24 medium cookies or 12 giant cookies
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup melted coconut oil or neutral cooking oil (i.e. canola, peanut, sunflower, grapeseed)
3/4 cup natural cane sugar
2 tablespoons unsulphered molasses (use "light" or "original" molasses, not blackstrap)
1/4 cup nondairy milk (I use almond milk)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips (Trader Joe's are dairy-free)
large-flaked sea salt (Fleur de Sel, Maldon Salt, or Coarse Gray Salt are all great)
Make and Chill the Dough: In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt until evenly combined, then set aside. In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the oil, sugar, molasses, milk, and cornstarch. Cream mixture together on medium speed for 3-4 minutes, scraping sides as necessary, until thick and smooth. Add vanilla and mix for an additional minute. Add the flour mixture to the creamed ingredients in three additions, scraping sides of mixing bowl in between each addition. Add the chocolate chips, mixing briefly to incorporate.
Transfer cookie dough to a large container with a lid, or cover the top of the mixing bowl with a piece of plastic wrap pressed down on the surface of the dough. Chill the dough in the refrigerator for 24-36 hours - the long chill time allows the flour to fully absorb the liquids in the dough, resulting in a drier, slightly crumbly dough that will bake into a caramel-y, beautifully textured cookie.
Bake the Cookies: If you've used coconut oil, you'll want to let the chilled dough soften at room temperature for a good hour before you'll be able to form the cookies (this is because coconut oil chills to a solid state). If you've used neutral cooking oil, the dough should be soft enough to form the cookies right away. Once the dough is ready, preheat your oven to 350 degrees and grab a large cookie sheet. To form "medium" cookies (about 2 1/2" in diameter), form 1 1/2 tablespoons of dough into a ball, or use a #40/medium cookie scoop to portion out the dough. To form "giant" cookies (about 5" in diameter), form 3 tablespoons of dough into a ball, or use a #20 cookie scoop to portion out the dough.
Arrange the dough balls onto a cookie sheet - generously spacing to allow plenty of room to spread while cooking - and gently press each ball down into an even disc (discs should be about 3/8"-1/2" thick). Sprinkle tops of cookies with a bit of salt, then place in oven. Bake medium cookies for 9-11 minutes and giant cookies for 12-14 minutes - the cookies should appear a bit underdone, golden brown but still quite soft. Remove from oven and cool the cookies on the cookie sheet for 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. The cooling time on the pan is important - the carry-over heat from the pan will finish baking the cookies and allows them to firm up a bit. Once completely cool, cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for 3-5 days, but their texture is best on the day they're baked.