The chocolate chip cookie has always been my favorite dessert. When it’s done properly and baked to perfection, there is nothing else like it. Don’t get me wrong, a double fudge brownie, an amazing slice of cheesecake, or even my favorite elegant dessert of chocolate mousse laced with espresso and dark rum are incredibly satisfying sweet delights. But, there is something so comforting about a perfect chocolate chip cookie that cannot be matched. It’s not fancy or complicated, and often takes a back seat to other types of sweets, yet you cannot pass it up. The simplicity of a perfect homemade chocolate chip cookie is far from simple to create.
Baking is an exact science and there are different variables that you must be aware of prior to making the perfect chocolate chip cookie. The butter must be soft but not melted, the eggs at room temperature, the accuracy in measuring the flour and sugar, being careful not to over-mix the batter, and the most important factor of all in my opinion, not over baking the cookies. They are delicate pieces of edible art, not because they’re particularly attractive, but in that there is an art in the perfectly crispy exterior and moist and chewy interior. One minute too long in the oven destroys this ratio of crispy exterior to moist interior.
My fascination with the chocolate chip cookie and baking in general began when I was 13 years old. I had to make something for my cheerleading team’s bake sale and I was determined to do it without help. I looked inside the pantry and saw boxes of instant cake and brownie mixes and thought, no. I wanted to make something myself, from scratch, no shortcuts, no add water and an egg and voila, a cake! Like most households in America in the 80’s, and still today, the yellow bag of Nestle semi-sweet chocolate chips were stacked 15 high right next to the dozens of Chef Boyardee Ravioli, Campbell’s cream of mushroom soup and canned corn. My mother was prepared to satisfy our chocolate cravings in the event of a nuclear war. I examined the bag and discovered a recipe on the back of it. I did not read the accompanying instructions, I merely looked at the ingredients and measurements and began to add them to a giant bowl. The first thing I did was melt the butter in the microwave until it bubbled. Next, I added the eggs (the butter was still hot, so the eggs began to cook), followed by the remaining ingredients in no particular order. I mixed it all up and decided that since I spent 10 minutes melting, measuring, and adding ingredients (an eternity to my 13-year-old self), bars would be much easier than scooping individual cookie balls onto multiple cookie sheets. So, out came the trusty Pyrex pan which I sprayed with Pam non-stick cooking spray until the air in our kitchen looked like the aftermath of a Grateful Dead concert. I poured my melted butter chocolate chip cookie bar batter into it and placed it in the cold oven, and then turned it on to 350 degrees F. I removed it from the oven after 30 minutes and let it cool before I cut them into bars. The result was delicious, and I sold them for $0.25 each. Enough to pay for one tube sock. These bar cookies became my bake sale staple and sold like hotcakes!
As I got older, wiser, and cockier, I thought I might be able to come up with a better version than this Nestle recipe and make them actual cookies. My results after multiple attempts and recipe tweaks were less than stellar but I didn’t give up. This was the time before Pinterest and the only cookbooks my mother had were Greek. And, contrary to what Mr. Gus Portokalis may believe, the Greeks did not invent the chocolate chip cookie. I was in my 20’s when I was finally satisfied with a recipe. Not too cakey, not too crispy, but a perfect blend of both, in my opinion. These cookies have been an honorary guest at all our family functions; baptisms, weddings, and my children’s birthday’s. I’ve also sold and gifted frozen cookie dough balls for the ultimate baked at home fresh treat.
While I am very health conscious, I never deny myself or my family an occasional homemade chocolate chip cookie. Consistency in exercise, eating healthy homemade real food over processed, and knowing the ingredients of everything you put in and on your body is very important. And, it’s a far better and easier way to live in my opinion, than the unattainable restrictions we often put on ourselves. Life is filled with highs and lows, but a perfect homemade chocolate chip cookie still warm from the oven is often what we need to remind us of how sweet life truly is.
Chocolate Chip Cookies
This recipe makes about 75 cookies and no, don’t bake them all at once. I always scoop my cookie dough out with a 1-ounce ice cream scooper onto a parchment lined baking sheet and freeze them. Once completely frozen, transfer to an airtight container or resealable plastic bags. Bake off a few (or more than a few) at a time in a preheated oven from the frozen state. No need to thaw before baking. Cookies are best when baked from frozen.
4 ¾ cups unbleached all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 lb (4 sticks) unsalted butter at room temperature
1 cup white sugar
2 cups tightly packed light brown sugar
4 eggs at room temperature
3 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
1. Place the flour, baking soda and salt into a large bowl, whisk to combine and set aside.
*To properly measure flour, lighten it by whisking before measuring. Dip your measuring cup into the flour until it is overflowing, tap the measuring cup with the back of a knife to fill in any gaps or air pockets in the cup, then using your knife, score the measuring cup across the top for a perfect measurement. Flour should fill the measuring cup loosely, not packed tightly as in how brown sugar is measured.
2. Place the butter into a stand mixer and beat on medium speed with the paddle attachment. Once it has creamed, after about a minute, add the white sugar while the mixer is on low. Next add the brown sugar, ½ cup at a time and keep the mixer on medium speed for 3 minutes or until it is a light brown color and appears fluffy.
3. Crack the eggs into a small bowl and add them one at a time with the mixer on low. Allow each egg to be incorporated into the butter and sugar mixture before adding the next egg. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a spatula after each egg is added. Add the vanilla extract and blend again.
4. Incorporate the flour, baking soda and salt mixture a little at a time on low speed, scraping down the sides and bottom of the bowl occasionally.
5. Finally add the chocolate chips a little at a time with the mixer on low. Turn off the mixer and fold the batter with a spatula a few times to thoroughly incorporate the chocolate chips.
6. Line a baking sheet with parchment or wax paper and scoop out cookie dough balls using a 1-ounce ice cream scoop. Once the sheet pan is filled up, place another sheet of paper over top and continue until all the batter is used. Wrap the sheet pan tightly with plastic wrap and place in the freezer for several hours or overnight.
7. Transfer the frozen cookie dough balls to an airtight container or large re-sealable plastic bags.
8. Baking the cookies: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit on convection bake if you have a convection oven. Line a sheet pan with parchment paper and place no more than 6 frozen cookies on the pan. Bake for 12-15 minutes rotating the pan once half way through. Keep an eye on the cookies as every oven is different. Take them out when the outside edges are a light golden brown and the center is puffed but still light in color. Let the cookies cool on the sheet pan for 3-5 minutes, then transfer to a cookie cooling rack to completely cool if you like. We prefer to enjoy them after they’ve cooled for 10 minutes right on the sheet pan. Enjoy!