Today, May 15th, is National Chocolate Chip Day! Chocolate chips are an essential ingredient in dozens of delicious treats—from chocolate chip pancakes, chocolate chip muffins, chocolate chip brownies, to chocolate chip ice cream and so much more! But it’s the humble chocolate chip cookie that takes the lead and is the star among chocolate chip uses.
In the 1930s, Ruth Graves Wakefield created the original chocolate chip cookie at her Toll House Inn in Whitman, Massachusetts. Ruth intended to bake chocolate cookies for her guests, but she ran out of baker’s chocolate. She substituted with chopped up semi-sweet chocolate morsels and discovered that the pieces did not melt into the dough as she expected. Her cookies were an instant hit. Today, nearly 1/3 of all the cookies baked in the United States are chocolate chip!
I was thinking of recipes I could use and while the Almost Healthy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip cookies are the ones I usually make (and is one of the first recipes I posted here on the blog way back when), I also dreamt of Dulce de leche chocolate chip cookies as well as a salted caramel bacon chocolate chip cookie or even a gooey chocolate chip cookie pie. But no matter how exotic, outrageous or trendy a recipe I thought of, the best chocolate chip cookie remains the unadulterated one. A simple chocolate chip cookie with a glass of milk is the most satisfying. And that’s exactly what I made.
In honor of the holiday, Nielsen-Massey sent me a bottle of their Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract to help make my chocolate chip cookies even that much better than they already are.
Nielsen-Massey really stands apart from other vanilla producers . In the December issue of Bon Appétit, the magazine listed 50 products in four categories that “will upgrade every aspect of your culinary life, guaranteed” and awarded the Bon Appétit Seal of Approval to Nielsen-Massey’s Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract for Best Vanilla Extract.
Nielsen-Massey takes hand-selected vanilla beans that have been cultivated on the Bourbon Island of Madagascar, and using their proprietary cold extraction process gently draws out and preserves the vanilla’s over 300 flavor compounds. This method produces a sweet, nutty and mellow vanilla flavor with velvety after-tones making it the perfect “all purpose” vanilla extract.
During the research I also learned that one tablespoon of vanilla extract is equivalent to one vanilla bean. That’s a fact I actually never knew before.
Batch One: FAIL!
For some reason, but perhaps maybe the fact that it was 10pm when I started and I was barely awake and feeling lazy, the first batch was a complete visual fail. The cookies were flat- so flat that they looked more like pancakes than cookies. They were nearly sheer. On the plus side, they still tasted great and the littles don’t mind eating the failures. (Neither did I as a midnight snack!)
Here’s where I think I went wrong-the butter was too melted, the dough was too wet and my oven temperature was too low (I need to buy an oven thermometer (read: new oven!) as it’s been wonky for a while now). I know better. I should have only melted half of the butter, and then I should not have overworked the butter, sugar and eggs with the mixer. Finally and probably the most important part, I should have added more flour when I saw that the dough was not the right consistency and too wet.
I probably should have chilled the dough too. But I didn’t and the flour did not have the time it needed to absorb the moisture and let the gluten relax. But perhaps that may not have even mattered as I didn’t have enough flour to start with. I’ll be honest and say that I only chill the dough on occasion, but I do find it is easier to work with when it’s cold. So there is obviously some argument to support that theory. But when it’s late and you just really want the instant gratification of cookies this is a step that is often skipped.
For the second batch, more flour was added as were more chunks and chips and the oven temperature was raised. I love a gooey, melty chocolate chip cookie and every bite should have both a crisp outside and a soft middle. Happy to report that this batch turned out perfectly. Those small things really make a difference.
After the second batch, it was well past my bedtime so I put the rest of the dough in the fridge. Tonight, I’ll be making the rest. This will probably be the best batch.
Here are some tips in mind when making your own perfect chocolate chip cookies:
Use the best ingredients you can afford. Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract and Ghirardelli Chocolate Chips are a great place to start. I always like to add chunks of chocolate too. Use a fine dark chocolate bar and chop it into small chunks. I prefer Michel Cluizel but Lindt will do when I haven’t stocked up- and you can always sneak a piece for yourself too.
Start with room temperature ingredients. Use salted butter and only melt half of the butter, this will help your consistency stay a bit firmer as you cream the sugars and eggs together.
It’s best to add the flour by hand and just mix it until the dough comes together and pulls away from the side of the bowl. If it’s too wet, then add more flour a tablespoon at a time. But don’t overwork your dough.
Add the chocolate chips and chunks last. Reserve some to press into the tops of the balls right before they go into the oven. You want the tops to look extra chocolatey!
This is a maybe tip- refrigerate your dough for at least an hour if not overnight. I know you “should”, and I know the cookies “usually” come out better then, but really, who wants to wait that long? So you can take that one or leave it. Up to you!
You may use a scoop if you’d like but I prefer to roll the dough into balls by hand. They always come out perfectly round when you do it this way and it’s one less gadget in your drawer and one less thing to wash.
Try to use a Silpat mat or parchment to line your trays. One, it keeps your trays in better shape and two, it helps keep the cookie bottoms from getting too dark before the tops get done.
Resist the urge to lift the cookies from the tray the moment they come out of the oven. This one is hard, because who doesn’t love cookies straight from the oven? Letting them rest a few minutes before moving them to a cooling rack lets them settle into themselves. Besides, boiling chocolate will really leave a nasty burn! The cooling air will help the bottoms crust a bit and the tops firm up so they don’t look like a Salvador Dali when you try to lift them with your spatula.
Best served warm with a big glass of ice cold milk.
- 2½ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon sea salt (Maldon Sea Salt works great)
- 1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, melt one stick, leave the other at room temperature
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- ¾ cup packed brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract)
- 2 large eggs
- 1½ cups of chocolate chips
- ½ cup fine dark chocolate, chopped into bits
- Mix the flour, baking soda and sea salt in a small bowl. Set aside.
- In the bowl of an electric mixer, combine the butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and pure vanilla extract until creamy.
- Add the eggs, one at a time and just mix to incorporate them into the butter and sugar.
- Remove the bowl from the mixer and add the flour while stirring with a large spoon or fork. Mix well but just until the flour is absorbed.
- Add the chocolate chips and chocolate chunks, reserving ¼ cup to add to the tops of the cookies right before baking. Mix in the chips and chunks but don’t overwork your dough.
- At this point, you may either refrigerate the dough for an hour (or overnight) or shape the dough into round small round balls for baking.
- Preheat Oven to 375 degrees F.
- Prepare your cookie trays by lining them with a Silpat or parchment.
- Form round balls by rolling the dough in your hands. Place the balls of dough on the trays about 3” apart. (I usually get a dozen on one pan.)
- Press some of the chocolate chips and chunks gently into the top of your balls of dough without pressing them down too much.
- Bake 9-11 minutes or until the tops just start to brown from the bottoms upwards. Remove from the oven and cool on the trays for 2 minutes before removing them to wire racks to cool.
You can also make this recipe into bars by using a 10 x 15-inch pan and baking for 20-25 minutes.
Disclosure: I received a bottle of Nielsen-Massey Madagascar Bourbon Pure Vanilla Extract to try for this recipe. As always, all opinions are my own and I was not compensated for this post. Except that cookies are always good to make and I’d take them as compensation. 🙂