Okay, seriously--who doesn't love chocolate chip cookies? I know, I know--there's some disagreements over the STYLE of the chocolate chip cookie (chewy vs. crispy, thin vs. puffy, more chocolate chips, fewer chocolate chips). Personally, I like mine on the thinner side, crisp on the edges, chewy in the center, and chocolatey (obviously) but not TOO chocolatey. I want to taste the butter and flavor of the dough (vanilla, salt), too! And having sampled more than a few chocolate chip cookies in my time (a few too many, no doubt), I feel well qualified to judge a recipe. Enter the Jacques Torres chocolate chip cookie recipe! A few years ago, this was published in the New York Times along with an accompanying article about the search for the perfect chocolate chip cookie. That's my kind of quest, so I saved the recipe and promptly forgot about it, until a few weeks ago, when I was in Jacques Torres' chocolate shop (buying some chocolates as a gift) and saw a tray of his cookies. Now, I'd eaten one before, made into a ridiculously indulgent and over the top ice cream sandwich but seeing (and smelling) them again reminded me of this recipe that had been sitting here neglected. So in addition to the chocolates (well received, by the way) I picked up a bag of 60% chocolate discs.
This recipe is a bit different from the standard recipe you find on the back of bags of chocolate chips; for starters, you use chocolate discs instead of chips. This creates pockets, almost layers of chocolate in the middle of the cookie. If you can't find discs (Valrhona also sells them), then I would substitute some really good quality bars of chocolate, cut into big chunks. The dough also uses a combination of bread and cake flours, instead of all purpose, and you rest the dough at least overnight before baking, for proper hydration. Otherwise, the technique is pretty standard and straightforward.
The recipe, as written, calls for scoops of dough weighing 3.5 ounces. See the nickel for scale. This is one big ball of dough, and I could only fit three of these on my baking pan. This resulted in a cookie that was about 6 inches across--enormous! The top photo should give you some sense of scale about how HUUUGE the cookies were. Way too big for my taste, although it certainly was delicious. So the rest of the dough I shaped into 2.5 ounce balls, which still made a good sized cookie, but more manageable. At least, I don't feel horrible guilt for eating a whole cookie by myself ;)
See? The 2.5 ounce cookies are about 4 inches across. Aren't they gorgeous looking? And the chocolate discs really do create these glorious pools of chocolate to bite into. Some people might actually consider these to have too much chocolate (I felt that way about the first one I ate) but that is easily solved either by cutting down the amount of chocolate, or, to be really indulgent, eating a cookie with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Oh! And I almost forgot--the recipe calls for a sprinkle of sea salt over the top before baking. I forgot to salt my first pan of cookies, and it really makes a difference, so be sure you don't forget it. I have another 30 balls of dough in my freezer....who wants to come over and have a cookie party?
Jacques Torres' Chocolate Chip Cookies
2 cups minus 2 tablespoons (8 1/2 ounces) cake flour
1 2/3 cups (8 1/2 ounces) bread flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt (I used sea salt)
2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) light brown sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (8 ounces) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract
1 1/4 pounds bittersweet chocolate disks
Sift dry ingredients together and set aside. In a medium bowl, cream together the butter and sugars (I used a hand mixer) until very light, about 5 minutes. Add eggs one at a time, beating well before adding the next. Add the vanilla. On low speed, gradually add the flour mixture and mix just until combined. Stir the chocolate discs in by hand, making sure you don't break them up. Cover with plastic wrap (or scrape into a plastic bag) and refrigerate for at least 24 hours.
When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Make 2.5 ounce balls of dough (about the size of ping pong balls--the original calls for 3.5 ounce balls of dough, which are bigger than golf balls) and place on baking sheet; I would recommend no more than 4 cookies at a time. You need to give them plenty of room to spread out, although obviously you can adjust if you have a larger or smaller sheet. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and bake until golden brown but still soft, 15 to 18 minutes. Transfer sheet to a wire rack for 10 minutes, then slip cookies onto another rack to cool a bit more. Repeat with remaining dough.
Makes about 30 4" cookies, about 18 5 or 6inchers if you follow the original sizing.