Monday, July 11, 2011

Cookie nirvana, thanks to the NYTimes

A couple years ago the NYTimes went on a quest for the perfect chocolate chip cookie, in which they interviewed several noted bakers around New York and finally came up with The Recipe.  The secret seems to be letting the dough rest in the fridge for up to 36 hours before baking.  The article and recipe had haunted me until the start of last week, almost exactly three years to the date of original publication.  But now, having tried the recipe (and baked batches after both 6 hrs and 30 hrs of refrigeration), I have to hand it to the Times and to Jacques Torres.  The warm-cookies-are-almost-always-better effect plays a large role, I'm sure, but this was by far the best cookie I have ever produced.

I followed the recipe with only one addition: ~1.5 cups chopped walnuts.  After baking several trays and getting an increasingly refined understanding my oven (which I'm pretty sure runs significantly hotter than what its temperature dial indicates), I achieved cookie nirvana with a product that was crisp at the edge, chewy for most of the interior, and soft (almost but not quite under-baked) in the very middle.  A gentle sprinkling of sea salt, prescribed in the recipe, also helps amplify the chocolate's flavor and plays against the cookie's richness.

This is when I wish I had a DSLR.

Aurelie the Cookie Guru: your cookies may be fantastic in their own right, and they're arguably more attractive, but this recipe could easily go head-to-head with yours, especially since I didn't have to pay $3 per cookie.  In fact, I would argue that the NYTimes cookie could win simply by how perfectly it encompasses the glorious range of soft-chewy-crispy.  The wonderful caramelized flavor and hint of salt are the clinchers.

Even after baking two dozen - most of which were brought to a program meeting - my freezer still contains one more log of cookie dough.  I'm positive that it's one of the best things this freezer has ever stored or will ever store :-).