I once created a very popular and beloved chocolate chip cookie do I need another? I still make those frequently but also… I have a penchant for buying chocolate chip cookies from any local bakery (esp when my home stash is gone). My excuse is that they are an opportunity to learn (err..through eating), but I also just love certain ones for qualities that are missing in my own.
Whole Foods and a local cafe both make really great, very very similar, chocolate chunk cookies. They’re about twice the size of my palm, have crispy edges, use quality chocolate and then… there’s something about the cookie itself which makes it taste so… GOOD. In the WF’ case, I first thought it was the ‘sweet cream’ , but I quickly realized that’s just marketing talk for, well, butter. I knew it wasn’t the brown butter that was setting them apart because we’ve all done that. The local cafe’s is very, very similar but doesn’t do brown butter. I examined the ingredients listed on both to figure this out, got nowhere, made some other cookies based on this popular recipe, knew it wasn’t what I was after, then experimented with what I thought the bakeries were doing differently. And… magic (eventually, lol).
First, they are bigger! The texture almost always has some crispiness to it, especially at the sides. Sometimes throughout the whole cookie but usually you get some chew in the center. There’s always a mix of brown and granulated sugar just like in the original ccc – that’s for sure.
They claim ‘sweet cream butter’ but I’m betting that’s code for butter with a high butterfat percentage. Hey, I do that too! Happy to keep that in the recipe. Second, they distribute their chocolate well and with minimal effort (I mean this has to be the case, right? Who is chopping that much chocolate?). So instead of getting out my chef’s knife and attacking a big chocolate bar, I went for a mix of valrhona feves and mini chocolate chips which give the same effect. I also figure those guys aren’t out there separating dozens of eggs so I went with a whole but added an extra yolk, to keep my cookie middles nice and chewy. A whole egg would also ensure I’d get more spread so I’d get those crispy edges.
The other thing is, and this is really where it clicked for me in my (20?) recipe tests, I believe they often use bread flour not all purpose. Ok, I can’t actually know this for sure, but I did analyze the flour ingredients and noted it was more similar to my bread flour’s ingredients than my AP’s. It also makes sense that these bakeries, pounding out hundreds of loaves a day would use the same flour for their cookies right? So we’re doing that too.
The last thing is, milk powder – which is listed on the ingredients of one of the cookies and which I tried early on but it didn’t work as well until I combined it with the right ratio of butter and with the bread flour. Milk powder adds a wonderful toasted taste to the cookies which enhances the ‘caramel’ like flavor of the dough. And with it, I got that perfect-I-thought-I’d-never-be-able-to-get-this-at-home cookie.
So the answer is all of the above: big, bakery cookies use butter with a high butterfat percentage, bread flour (or so I bet), valrhona feves, and round it all out with milk powder to hone in on that quintessential taste. I think I cracked the code, I’m so excited for you to make these!
Butter: European style butter with at least 82% butterfat (83% is even better). It should be softened but it’s fine if it isn’t, you’ll just cream it longer with the sugar. Unsalted is preferable.
Sugar: Both granulated sugar and brown, I use light brown but dark should be fine as well.
Flour: Bread flour. This flour will give the cookie the right texture and the right amount of spread.
Milk powder: Dehydrated milk or nonfat dry milk powder. You’ll find this in the baking aisle. You can also use malted milk powder.
Chocolate: Use what you like in terms of percentage of cocoa solids (45-55% is semi-sweet, anything lower is milk chocolate, anything higher is considered dark chocolate) but try to find a mix of larger chunks and smaller chips so you get chocolate in every bite and a big puddle in some.
Leavening: Both baking soda and powder; the former helps the cookie spread well the latter ensures the middle puffs up and bakes.
Salt & Vanilla: Fine sea salt (not table salt!) and a good quality pure vanilla extract.
First step in any chocolate chip cookie recipe is to cream together the butter and sugar. Some recipes will give you time cues (2-5 minutes) but I always prefer to go by visuals. Depending on how soft the butter is, the creaming can happen quickly or take some time. The goal is not to just have them blended, but to pump in a ton of air bubbles which will fluff out the butter and begin to break down the sugar granules.
Using the paddle attachment on a stand mixer begin creaming. Once the sugars and butter are blended, keep going – scraping down as needed. Once the mixture is 3-4 shades lighter than when you started – it’s done creaming.
Next the egg and yolk – again be patient while this mixes. Let it get quite fluffy and scrape down with a rubber spatula to ensure you aren’t leaving any bits of dough out.
The milk powder (our magic ingredient) and bread flour will go in and you’ll turn the mixer on to just combine. We don’t want to develop any gluten so avoid over-mixing the flour.
Now the chocolate! Here I’m using some extra large chips I found (they were too sweet for me so in my final recipe I went for valrhona feves of a darker chocolate) and some mini chips. This combination works really well together (and I’m a huge advocate of chopping a chocolate bar).
And once the chocolate is folded in, you’re gonna set the dough in an airtight container and transfer it to the fridge. At the very least overnight but you can leave it there up to 48 hours and it should be good.
Once the dough has had time to develop, it’s absolutely amazing flavor, we’ll pull it out and scoop it. If it’s too hard to scoop you can let it come to room temperature first.
I like using a cookie scoop so all my cookies will be exactly the same size and bake evenly. You can sprinkle on some sea salt right before they go into the oven if you like.
And then… well magic! Let them cool on the pan a bit before eating , those chocolate puddles can make these difficult to lift in one piece.
I don’t ask you to do this often, but for these you must. First, as you may already know, chocolate chip cookie dough often benefits from an overnight rest to develop flavor. But there’s other reasons for it here too: the bread flour and the milk powder need to be absorbed by the liquid in the dough so they can give us that wonderful chewy texture.
83% butterfat. In the US, mostly you’ll find butter made with 80% butterfat. European brands usually do 82 or 83% which is what we want here. Butterfat has more, well fat, in it so the butter will be softer, more yellow in color, melt quicker and will yield a richer taste to the cookie.
It’s evaporated milk, and you’ll usually find it in the baking aisle. No substitutes for the milk powder.
I used whole food’s mini chocolate chips and valrhona’s semi-sweet feves (they have quite a few, choose your favorite). You could also use a good quality regular sized chocolate chip if you prefer.
This dough needs an overnight chill but it can keep for 48 hours in the fridge before baking. If you want cookies on the ready anytime, once the dough has had its rest, scoop it and flash freeze on a plate then store it in an airtight container. You’ll want to bring it to room temperature before baking or to add a few more minutes to the total bake time.
Here’s a link to the cookie scoop I used for these cookies (it scoops 3.25 tablespoons).
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