When I lived in London, chocolate chip cookies were almost as alien as pumpkin-y things. I searched high and low for a bag of chocolate chips that would be large enough to bake a batch of cookies, to no avail. And once again my London team nodded their heads in acknowledgment that I was correct, they don’t have proper bags of chocolate chips there. One of my coworkers in the New York office felt so bad about my chocolate chip meltdown that he bought me a giant bag of Nestle chocolate chips at Costco in New Jersey and carried it with him to London on a business trip (one could say he put it in his purse).
I never fancied myself as a chocolate chip cookie aficionado until then, and soon found myself giving lessons in the London office kitchen about how to make a chocolate chip cookie. (I might have gone one step too far, turning those cookies into ice cream cookie sandwiches — to which most of my coworkers shook their heads and politely passed. Too much Americanness, I guess.) But it was during those lessons that I realized all the important and seemingly small nuances that go into making the perfect chocolate chip cookie. Apparently, Martha Stewart has taught me well.
In a nutshell, you can have a chewy chocolate chip cookie or a crispy one. These results are based largely on the amount of butter you use, and how long you bake them for. I’m partial to the chewy gooey kind myself, but even that world is vast and full of options. Every fall, I love to bake these chewy cherry, dark chocolate, oatmeal and toffee cookies. They’re hearty and gooey at the same time, and for some reason have always embodied fall for me — especially when pumpkin and apple fatigue have set in. Even raisin haters can get on board because the dried sour cherries add the same stretchy texture as their dried grape friends with a more subtle flavor. And they stay soft for a few days so they’re very gift-able and cookie swap-able.
The original recipe is a Martha Stewart oldie but goodie. I’ve modified it slightly to change the amounts of all the mix-ins to what I feel is a better ratio, and to add a wee bit of salt to the dough to act as a foil to all of the sweet elements. You could also sprinkle the cookies with sea salt before baking instead of adding salt to the batter. The crucial part about this recipe is taking the cookies out of the oven at the right time. (But that’s actually the crucial step in baking any chocolate chip cookie, in my opinion.) Depending on your oven, they will bake for anywhere between 14-16 minutes. Even at 16 minutes they’ll likely look a bit raw and underdone — but they’re done! Trust me. When the edges start to turn golden brown, that’s your cue to get your oven mitts out. At this stage, the center will be pale and very soft to the touch but the edge will be firm and brown. As soon as they come out of the oven and cool on their baking sheet on top of a cooling rack for two minutes, the puffy centers will firm up, turn even more golden brown in color and sink down slightly. Sinking is good. It means gooeyness. Keeping them on the cookie sheet for just a few minutes will add that extra boost of heat and keep them from overbaking in the oven. (It’s almost as if magic fairies sprinkle their finishing dust on them at this stage and transform them into perfection.) Then transfer them directly to the cooling rack to finish up. If you have kids, let them watch this part as it really is magical and awesome.
CHEWY CHERRY CHOCOLATE OATMEAL TOFFEE COOKIES
Modified from marthastewart.com
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon Kosher salt
- 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
- 3/4 cup packed light-brown sugar
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups oats (no quick-cooking oats, please!)
- 1 cup dried cherries — I use Trader Joe’s dried pitted tart Montmorency cherries
- 5 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped — I use half a bag of Ghiradelli bittersweet 60% cacao chocolate chips (no chopping needed)
- 1/2 cup toffee pieces — I use Heath English toffee bits
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper; set aside. In a large bowl, mix together flour, baking soda, and salt with a whisk.
In the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and both sugars on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed during mixing. Add the egg; mix on high speed to combine. Add the vanilla; mix to combine. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Add flour mixture to egg mixture, and mix on low speed until well combined. Add the oats, cherries, chocolate, and toffee pieces; mix to combine after each addition. *At this stage your standing mixer will get tired, so be gentle with it. Small bursts of power are best.
Use an ice cream scoop to spoon a heaping tablespoon of dough onto a lined baking sheet. Repeat, spacing 2 inches apart.
Bake cookies until golden brown, 14 to 16 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through. Remove from the oven and let cool on the baking sheet on top of a wire rack for 2 minutes. Then transfer cookies directly to the wire rack to finish cooling. Store in an airtight container.
Makes about 3 dozen cookies, depending on the size of your scoops.
I’m very particular about tools when I bake. OK, let’s be honest, I’m very particular about lots of things in life — but this is a big one. I bake cookies always and only on aerated baking sheets. I totally drink the Kool-Aid on this one and truly believe that they help the circulation of air enough to make a big difference. I bought this set at BBB for my mom and it has changed her life, too.