Everyone has a favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe. If you do not have anything else in your recipe box, I am willing to bet that at some point you acquired a recipe for chocolate chip cookies.
If you feel up to the challenge of questing out the superlative recipe, you are in for it. I tried this a couple of years ago. My curiosity was piqued when the New York Times posted the supposedly epic Jacque Torres chocolate chip cookie recipe. I tried that one, David Lebovitz’s from his Pure Dessert, a couple of blended whole wheat flour versions, and countless others lacking notable creators, but delicious nonetheless. And the winner?
Well, I grew up spoiled because my mother was the one everyone came crawling to for her chocolate chip cookie recipe and to be perfectly honest, it trumps all the others. For the past four or five years I have averaged a batch of these cookies every month and a half. We eat a sizeable portion of the dough straight from the fridge, but the rest are baked sheet by sheet a couple of days each week.
We commence with a lovely ritual.
We plop down directly on the kitchen floor in a circle with a couple of small mugs of cold milk and a plate of gooey, crispy, warm chocolate chip cookies in between us and make a mess out of dessert. It can best be described a sort of Pavlovian communion. The kids smell the cookies baking and drift into their accustomed seats. (My son right next to the energy inefficient 1981 fridge that disturbingly wafts hot air upon his feet and my daughter squeezed between him and the cabinets.)
The trick to perfect chocolate chip cookies is a lot like that of a favorite salad–what one individual might call too acidic and over-dressed, another would declare heavenly (not pointing any fingers)–or an ideal steak that runs the gamut from rare to well-done. In addition to whether one prefers underdone, gooey, crispy, or crunchy cookies, one can tinker with the salt and choice of chocolate (or other add-ins) as well.
As I have opined elsewhere, the chocolate that sufficed when I was a kid has no place in my adult kitchen. The only premade chocolate chips that I ever put in this sumptuous cookie dough are Guittard or Ghiradelli 60% chocolate. Otherwise, I prefer hand-chopping a couple of high quality bars of 70% chocolate. If the dough is half the dessert then the other is a chocolate whose pedigree is immediately detected, for good or for bad.
As far as salt goes, I also switch this up quite a bit. My two favorite options are either fleur de sel or coarse sea salt, but I actually think kosher salt does a fine job too. The distinct flavors of chocolate and salt in each bite is probably part of why these cookies are so lethal; prompted by the addictive flavors, it is pretty difficult to limit oneself to a reasonable serving size of two or three cookies. (Hence why I bake them in very small batches. I freely admit to possessing a mere crumb of self-control so I must explore other strategies.)
Now stop and imagine my favorite swap out for dark chocolate chips. White chocolate chunks and lightly roasted pistachios.
While I can (and frighteningly, do) consume several bars of divine dark chocolate a day, I am not a fan of white chocolate on its own. Cooked into a dessert and caramelized, however, is an entirely different story. Do not purchase “white baking chips” or anything of that nature. Rather, obtain real “white chocolate” with a minimum of 30% cocoa solids (typically made up of cocoa butter). If you want to make a white chocolate sauce or ganache read here, but the simplest way to caramelize white chocolate is merely baking it into cookies.
Every exposed chunk of white chocolate loses some of its moisture and begins to literally caramelize, especially those touching the cookie tray or parchment sheet. For me the combination of the caramelized white chocolate and the roasted pistachios is so delectable, especially dunked into a cold glass of milk that it makes up for my not being able to eat raw cookie dough presently.
On that note, my extreme truancy from this site this past month has been the result of some crazy times in our family. Multiple illnesses, crazy work schedules, prepping the garden for the new season, and generally being 33 weeks pregnant took its toll in January. I have several easy-to-make treats for you planned for February.
Enjoy my favorite “chocolate chip” cookies!
White Chocolate Chunk and Pistachio Cookies
(Note: I usually make the dough and split it in half, adding 2 cups dark chocolate chips to one half and 2 cups white chocolate chunks and 1 cup pistachios to the other.)
1 lb butter, room temperature
2 cups dark brown sugar
1 1/2 cups regular sugar
2 tablespoons vanilla extract
5 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons fleur de sel, coarse sea salt, or kosher
1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda
4 cups chopped real white chocolate (cocoa solids around 30% or more)
2 cups toasted pistachios
In a Kitchen Aid type mixer, cream the butter and both sugars with the paddle attachment. Add the vanilla and eggs and mix incorporated. Sift in the flour, salt, and baking soda until just incorporated, scrapping up the sides. Carefully add the white chocolate and pistachios and mix until just incorporated. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour before using. If you cannot wait, no matter, you will just have flatter cookies.
Bake somewhere between 325-350 for 8-10 minutes depending upon if you want crispier or gooey cookies. I find that 350 for 7 minutes crispens the outside while leaving the inside slightly underdone, but I run the risk of overdoing the cookies if I forget about them for even a minute.