Sunday, June 7, 2015

The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies

Best? I said it. I'm very controversial. I won't back down from that statement, so I recommend you get on board.

I'm only feeling aggressive because I've had too much cold press. There's a very fine line between appropriately caffeinated to I-can-feel-it-coursing-through-me, scary productivity. I generally cross it. Apologies to anyone who comes across me today. It would be easier to type if my hands weren't shaking.

I recently got to attend the gorgeous, sweet, sentimental wedding of dear Katy Baker and Andrew Petrella. I love weddings because love is great and I can really get behind a well-planned party, you know? This one was up in hills of Malibu (I think I was in a hill?) on a ranch, right at that time before twilight when the sunlight is warm and enveloping. It's like existing in a naturally-occurring Earlybird filter. Guess what, I won't apologize for that Instagram reference because I'm feeling aggressive. She wore cowboy boots and Sigur Ros was playing and their personal vows were so beautiful, even all of the hulking Texan men around me were dabbing their eyes. Forget tearing up -- I obviously heave-sobbed at one point, being blown away by love and commitment and words. No surprises.

Then, after I was fully convinced that true love is real, we were given champagne with strawberries in it and chips with guacamole and access to a photo-booth-situation and dinner. And lots of wine. Arguably too much wine. I did give my number to one of the waiters, but when it comes down to it, I think I took a liking to him just because he kept bringing me more wine. At the very end, after we toasted and danced, we got to throw cones of lavender at the bride and groom and drive home. If you're me, you also kept a cone of lavender for yourself that you then spilled all over your car because you were drunk. Also, if you're me, you have good friends who will drive you home in a car full of lavender (and general trash) because you got carried away with free wine. Adulthood!

This is the face of someone who has had too much wine.
About a month ago, Katy asked if I would be interested in making cookies for her wedding. She was planning on having several desserts with homemade touches, and I of course was flattered. I was also over-caffeinated at that time and very quickly committed to making about 150 chocolate chip cookies. How? I'd figure it out! With what recipe? Minor details! In the end, I was so happy to contribute to their day in this way and accomplished the personal milestone of mass-baking. I found a stellar chocolate chip recipe that I modified slightly to accommodate the bride's request for sea salt, and went to town. I really got into a groove. I now feel like I can do anything, including math, which is a key component of mass-baking.

Hundreds of cookies, ready for transport and consumption.
This chocolate chip cookie recipe is the best on many levels. First, it's simple. I've now memorized it, and I'm nearly incapable of memorizing numbers. I could make these cookies in my sleep. Since I was up until 4am baking them for the wedding, I kind of did. Second, it can be somewhat modified to create the kind of cookie your little heart most desires. When I first tried these puppies out, I brought them to a Lucille Ballers game (because if I can't be a monster on the court, I might as well be a mom in the stands). I made them big and chewy, with walnuts, and they were a HIT. I was the world's greatest mom, if only for that night.

Teammate. Friend. Mom. (Not an actual mom.)

If you're interested in a smaller, softer cookie, just make smaller dough dollops and bake for the same amount of time. This is what I did for the wedding. Both kinds of cookies were successful. You do you, man.

The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies

2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup melted, unsalted butter
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 egg 
1 egg yolk
1 traditionally-sized bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips
Optional: chopped walnuts, to your liking. Just add a few handfuls!
Also optional: coarsely-ground sea salt

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees and prepare your cookie sheets. (This time, I used parchment paper with great success. My other go-to is just a stick of butter, which I think is better than oil or Pam spray.)
Sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt. Set aside.
In a medium bowl, mix the melted butter, brown sugar, and white sugar until creamy and blended. If you got that mixer, go to town.
Add the vanilla, the egg, and the egg yolk. 
Slowly fold in the dry ingredients and hand-mix until just combined.
Fold in the chocolate chips (and whatever else you're throwing in there, like nuts).
Drop the cookies onto the sheet. Here is where you can really showcase your individuality. If you want 'em big and chewy, make the balls about 1/4 cup each and about 3 inches apart from each other, slightly flattened. Smaller? Go smaller.
Bake for about 15 minutes. If you've fashioned smaller cookies, check at about 13 minutes.
If you want to salt the tops, here's where you can add just a smidge -- when they're hot out of the oven.
Cool on wire racks.
Bring to a party and be a hero.

Oh, my wedding? Gosh. I'm not even in a relationship, but SINCE YOU ASKED, it's going to be fun and beautiful and the cake will be on POINT. I'm also going to try to wear the dress my grandma and mom wore. My mom says I won't fit in it, but I think she's saying that because she doesn't know where the dress is. No rush, Mom. No rush. 

Great dress, great couples.

Happy baking!

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