(the best) chocolate chip cookies.

Clara’s little brother is headed to Ethiopia for a month, so of course we had to send him off with some sustenance to get him there (it’s a long, long flight from New York), and some extra for his girl who’s been there almost a year. We needed something delicious and, for Julia, a bit nostalgic, but it also had to be sturdy enough to withstand the trip and the heat on the other side.

The obvious choice: chocolate chip cookies. And not just any chocolate chip cookies, but the New York Times’ “best” chocolate chip cookies.

“Best” is, of course, a subjective state of being. Perhaps you prefer your chocolate chip cookies chewy, or snappy, or soft, or tiny. These are a bit cakier that most, and enormous, but wonderfully chewy around the edges and pillowy as you eat your way towards their generous middles.Well in the running for best, if this is you like your cookie. But, you can’t just whip them up in a half hour. The secret to their deliciousness is cookie dough resting time. Thirty-six hours in all (48’s even better, if you can stand it, and 24, in a pinch, will do.) And more secrets: bread flour! A sprinkling of sea salt! High-quality chocolate (read: not Nestlé Toll House morsels)!

We can’t do these cookie justice with words. Best to treat yourself to a read of David Leite’s article on the Times, detailing his quest to find the best-chocolate-chip-cookie-recipe, and the things he learned along the way.

A few notes: First, you can get fèves at Whole Foods, but they’re on the expensive side. Their inclusion in this recipe is more aesthetic — they melt into wispy strands of chocolate that permeate your cookie. Chips work just as well, or pick up a chunk of chocolate and break it into slivers. Choose a good quality chocolate (at the regular grocery store our best option was Ghirardelli chips) and go for 60% cocoa or darker. Second, the large cookie size is deliberate, allowing for enough surface area to achieve the perfect crunchy-outside-gooey-inside ratio. These are massive cookies. But we wouldn’t mess with it. And third, to avoid burnt edges (and allow for more surface for sea salt), we suggest flattening the golf-ball sized spheres slightly before baking. We did this for the second set to go into the oven, and they turned out a bit better.

En fin. A tasty treat for the folks in Addis Ababa, or so we hope! And, no, despite sending these off to Africa, we did not use Cadbury’s new “non melting chocolate“. Mostly because it’s not sold around here, and also because it sounds awful.

(the best) chocolate chip cookies.

Adapted from the New York Times.

Makes about 18 5-inch 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
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 disks or fèves, at least 60 percent cacao content
Sea salt

1. Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Set aside.

2. Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars together until very light, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. Reduce speed to low, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds. Drop chocolate pieces in and incorporate them without breaking them. Press plastic wrap against dough and refrigerate for 24 to 48 hours. Dough may be used in batches, and can be refrigerated for up to 72 hours.

3. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350F degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Set aside.

4. Scoop 6 3 1/2-ounce mounds of dough (the size of generous golf balls) onto baking sheet, making sure to turn horizontally any chocolate pieces that are poking up; it will make for a more attractive cookie. Flatten the balls slightly, so as to keep the edges from burning. (We weighed one out to get a sense for size. 3 1/2 ounces is big!)

5. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and bake until golden brown but still soft, 18 to 20 minutes (if you have two sheets going at once, rotate halfway through.) Cool the cookies slightly on the baking sheet, then transfer to a wire rack to cool.

6. Repeat with remaining dough, or reserve dough, refrigerated, for baking remaining batches the next day.


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