Not sure why I always seem to want to bake in February with my daughter, Aurora. Sure we make cookies around the holidays, but there is something about the post holiday, settling into winter, when I am definitely ready to grab a few cookies. Usually I justify them after a run with a second or third cup of coffee.
This recipe has played a bit of telephone tag over the years. I made it for the first time when I worked on Robert Steinberg’s and John Scharffenberger’s The Essence of Chocolate (Hyperion, 2006). The recipe, Chocolate Chunk Cookies came from Joanne Chang, chef and owner of the Flour Bakery and Cafe in Boston. She used two kinds of chocolate. For years I stuck along the same lines, and gratefully reflect on an article Diane Peterson wrote about me in The Press Democrat, February 24, 2015. I used larger chips like the Guittard or Ghirardelli semi-sweet and put in big hunks of walnuts for my husband. When my daughter got to cookie helping and eating age, I only made half with walnuts. Then one day when I thought I had chocolate chips and I didn’t, I tossed in the end of a bag of trail mix. With subsequent batches, I thought why not make everyone happy, divide it and make a little bit of dough with what everyone likes.
A few suggestions –
· coarsely chopped milk chocolate and semisweet chocolate chips (with or without walnuts)
· coarsely chopped semisweet chocolate and dried cherries (with or without hazelnuts)
· coarsely chopped dates, dried figs, and almonds
· coarsely chopped dried mango, dried banana, and/or large flakes of coconut, and cashews
· mixed dried berries
· raisins and oatmeal
· the odds and ends of any and all bulk fruit and nuts that you have left in the pantry
Do you like flatter, crisper cookies or thicker softer-centered cookies? This recipe can give you both. See method.
Makes about 3 dozen cookies
1¼ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup bread flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon kosher salt
16 tablespoons unsalted butter (8 ounces), at room temperature
¾ cup granulated sugar
¾ cup firmly packed light brown sugar
2 large eggs
½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 to 2 ½ cups chopped chocolate, chocolate chips, nuts, dried fruits, or a combination (If going heavy on the chocolate, keep it closer to 2 cups.)
Position the oven racks in the lower and upper thirds of the oven and preheat to 350˚F.
Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone baking mats.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the all-purpose and bread flours, the baking soda, and salt.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream together the butter and both sugars on medium speed until pale, light and fluffy, 5 to 7 minutes. Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. Add the eggs and vanilla and beat until just combined. (Over mixing at this point can deflate the dough later.) Scrape down the bowl.
Turn off the mixer and add the combined dry ingredients. Pulse and mix on the lowest speed to start to incorporate and keep the flour from flying out of the bowl. Then mix on low, just until the flour is blended, 2 to 3 minutes.
Remove the bowl from the mixer, divide as needed, and fold in the add-ons.
Personally, I like to use a small ice cream scoop for more uniform cookies. And I find the scoop makes it much tidier to work with. Scooping is also a great way to prep for freezing to have cookie dough on hand, see below.
If you like cookies that are thinner and a bit crisper, you can scoop and bake while the dough is still soft. Or refrigerate for up to 3 days. Drop the dough a scoop at a time, about 2 inches apart onto the prepared pans. If the dough has been refrigerated, flatten slightly and let the dough warm up for about 20 minutes or so before baking.
If you prefer cookies that are a little thicker, with a slightly softer inside, I suggest refrigerating the dough until cold, at least 2 hours, but preferably overnight (or up to 3 days). Drop the dough a scoop at a time, about 2 inches apart onto the prepared pans, flatten slightly, and bake.
Bake until golden, rotating the pans halfway through baking, about 15 minutes depending on how cold the dough is.
Transfer the cookies with a spatula to a cooling rack to cool completely.
The cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 3 days.