For years my go-to chocolate chip cookie recipe has come from Fine Cooking. It kicks ass, and I have had no reason to look for another. Until. Until I discovered an intriguing recipe from Alton Brown called The Chewy. My standard recipe varies from the one on the Toll House package because it uses cold butter, not room temp. This makes for a nice, thick and chewy cookie. It also makes an unholy mess when you try to cream the sugar into the cold butter. (You’ll want to cover your mixing bowl if you try it. Just saying.) But Alton’s uses melted butter! And BREAD FLOUR! And a little milk! And it has a cult-like following. Clearly, I needed to see what all the fuss was about. (And if successful, try to make the ultimate oatmeal cookie, long searched for.)
Full disclosure: Some people are anal bakers. They cannot veer from the recipe AT ALL. Everything is precisely measured. I am precise about NOTHING, except maybe butter and eggs, but that’s because they are conveniently pre-measured. I know that I did not put an exact two cups of flour in, or a teaspoon of baking soda or salt. The sugar was also probably off. So there you go.
I’ll tell you one thing – using melted butter was MUCH easier than 2 1/2 sticks of cold butter. I was a little confused about the creaming instruction – it mostly just kind of melted into the butter. I creamed til it seemed thickened and well mixed. The result was more like caramel, rather than the fluffy stuff I usually get.
You then add the eggs, vanilla and milk, and finally the flour and chocolate. It tells you to chill the dough, which is necessary because this is a VERY loose batter. It doesn’t specify how LONG to chill it though. I gave it a couple hours. He specifies a #20 scoop – mine was #40 which i THINK is half the size he used. The first batch I left in balls, and they were done in 10 minutes. Edges were a little too crispy so next time I flattened them slightly. Same result, too brown. Then I turned the oven down to 350, since my scoops were smaller, and upped the baking time to 12 minutes. That helped a little, preserving the chewiness. Can you tell the difference? The one on the right was baked at 350, versus 375 on the left.
And the verdict? I’ll keep on cleaning up the unholy mess of my tried and true recipe. Texturally, these seemed much lighter than my usual ones, less dense and chewy. Sure, they might be easier to make (but more time-consuming since you need to chill them), but what’s the point if they aren’t the best you can make? I may still tinker with the base of this to see what I can do about that perfect oatmeal cookie.
The Chewy by Alton Brown (my notes are in red)
- 2 sticks unsalted butter
- 2 1/4 cups bread flour
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 1/4 cups brown sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 egg yolk
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips
- Ice cream scooper (#20 disher, to be exact)
- Parchment paper (I didn’t use any – I was out)
- Baking sheets
Heat oven to 375 degrees F.
Melt the butter in a heavy-bottom medium saucepan over low heat. (Why? I did it in the microwave). Sift together the flour, salt, and baking soda and set aside. ( I rarely sift. Unless it’s powdered sugar. Just stirred with a fork a bit.)
Pour the melted butter in the mixer’s work bowl. Add the sugar and brown sugar. Cream the butter and sugars on medium speed. Add the egg, yolk, 2 tablespoons milk and vanilla extract and mix until well combined. Slowly incorporate the flour mixture until thoroughly combined. Stir in the chocolate chips.
Chill the dough (I did for two hours), then scoop onto parchment-lined baking sheets, 6 cookies per sheet. Bake for 14 minutes or until golden brown, checking the cookies after 5 minutes. My scoops were smaller – I baked for 10-12 minutes, after I turned the oven down to 350. You want the edges to be golden, but the middle should still be soft and pale – they will set as they cool. Rotate the baking sheet for even browning. Cool completely and store in an airtight container.