Photographed by Rockie Nolan.
Second Place: Kelsey Miller (Editor's note: Recount!)
There are two chocolate-chip-cookie recipes I'm completely obsessed with. I have no idea which one is better — I just know they changed my cookie world when I discovered them. The first is adapted from an old New York Times
recipe and involves two different kinds of flour and a 36- to 48-hour waiting period to let the dough chill. The second recipe comes from Cook's Illustrated
(with a couple of personal tweaks), uses browned butter, and makes the most delicious dough I've ever tasted.
Rather than make this Sophie's choice myself, I whipped up both batches, baked them at the same time, and left it to my friends to choose which one I entered in the competition. The hands-down winner on baking day was the Cook's Illustrated
recipe. These make a crisp-edge-and-chewy-center cookie, with a little more vanilla in the batter than usual. I swapped out semisweet chips for big, milk-chocolate chunks that I added sparingly to the cookie. With a dough this scrumptious, you don't want the cookie to be overwhelmed by the chocolate. My signature move (on pretty much every dish) is Maldon sea-salt flakes.
Here's where I went wrong: Cookies are different on the second day. While the Cook's Illustrated
batch was still delicious, the New York Times
cookies had turned AWESOME overnight. I brought that batch into work as well, and we all dug in after the judging was over. Suddenly, everyone wanted to change their votes (including Jess!), but it was too late. Still, you can learn from my mistakes and try that recipe as well — I wrote it up for this Valentine's Day post
a couple of years ago. If you're baking cookies in advance, make those. But, if you need cookies in your face STAT, make these:
Adapted from Cook's Illustrated
1¾ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
½ tsp baking soda
14 tbsp unsalted butter, divided
¾ cup dark-brown sugar
½ cup granulated sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 egg yolk
1¼ cups Ghirardelli milk-chocolate chips (or other large chips)
1 tbsp Maldon sea-salt flakes (in a pinch: coarse kosher salt) for topping
Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper (or grease sheets).
In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour and baking soda, and set aside.
Heat 10 tablespoons of the butter in a large pan over medium-high heat until melted. Continue cooking, swirling the pan constantly until the butter is dark golden brown and has a nutty aroma — about one to three minutes. Immediately remove skillet from heat, and transfer the browned butter to a large bowl. Stir the remaining four tablespoons of butter into the hot, browned butter until completely melted. Set aside, and let cool to room temperature. (Cheaters: Pop it in the fridge for a few minutes, but don't let butter solidify.)
Add both sugars, salt, and vanilla to the bowl with the butter, and whisk until fully incorporated. Add the egg and egg yolk, and whisk until the mixture is smooth, with no sugar lumps remaining, about 30 seconds. Let the mixture stand for three minutes, then whisk for 30 seconds. Repeat the process of resting and whisking two more times until the mixture is thick, smooth, and shiny. Using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon, stir in the flour mixture until just combined, about one minute. Stir in the chocolate chips.
Scoop the dough into 16 even portions, each about three tablespoons, and arrange them two inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. You can use a cookie scoop or ice-cream scoop if you want them to be perfectly round. Sprinkle lightly with sea-salt flakes.
Bake 10 to 14 minutes, until the cookies are golden brown and the edges have begun to set but centers are still soft. Transfer the baking sheet to a wire rack, and allow cookies to cool.