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Rachel's Recipes: Trying to achieve the ‘perfect’ chocolate cookie

By: Rachel Chaddock, Special to the Telegraph
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Chocolate chip cookies are an institution. They are easy and delicious and while I don’t usually go around saying that something is “all-American,” if you had to slap that label on a cookie it would likely be this one. Making them from scratch is so simple that I don’t really know why people buy the pre-made kind or the ready-to-bake dough. All you really need are the ingredients and a mixer — and really, you don’t even need the mixer. You can also tailor the cookies to your specifications. What do I mean by that? I’m expecting in January and I, quite frankly, have been thinking about cookies a good deal of the time. There are tiny little changes one could make to the basic cookie recipe to create your own special recipe. A little crispier? A little chewier? A little less sweet? What if you upped the quality of the chocolate? What if you used salted butter? What if you chopped up the chocolate yourself instead of using chips? What would changing the flour do? I have made chocolate chip cookies many, many times — and most of them, I think, in the last two months — working on this recipe. This was all done just for you, dear reader. Well, and for myself. And my family and friends. How can I take each person’s preferences and make them into the ultimate cookie? I can’t. But I can approach cookie nirvana and I think that in this case, I have done it. I switched out the all-purpose flour for bread flour — a product I always have on hand and the higher gluten level of which makes for a chewier cookie. I switched out the unsalted butter for salted which was my sister’s suggestion, and the salt works well with the sweetness of the cookie. I swapped brown sugar for white (also makes a chewier cookie), and added malted milk powder, I left out shortening altogether. That would make a fluffier cookie, and while I don’t eschew the ingredient altogether, I save it for biscuits and pie crust, mostly. I also cut down the egg since they tend to dry out the baked product. Lastly, I chopped the chocolate myself, and did this for a few reasons: I like the higher quality of the bar chocolate, I love the irregularity of the chunks versus uniform chips, and look how pretty the tiny sprinkles of chocolate are in the final product. Finally, the baking. I actually prefer a crisper cookie, so if I were making these just for myself I would probably switch out part of the brown sugar for white and bake the cookies a little longer. Remember, if they look done when you take them out, they are probably too done, since they will continue to cook as they cool to room temperature. However, my husband prefers a softer cookie, and my 2-year-old finds the softer ones easier to nosh on, so to preserve the happiness of my boys I make the cookies to their preference. Maybe my next day alone I’ll make my own perfect cookie — crisp on the outside, chewy on the inside, not too sweet and perhaps with a sprinkling of sea salt on top? You can share them — I have no desire to eat two and a half dozen cookies all by myself. Or you can tailor the recipe to your own specification. I can almost assure you that any trial batches will not go to waste. Rachel Chaddock can be reached at rachels.recipes@yahoo.com. She welcomes reader questions and comments. * * * Chaddock Chocolate Chip Cookies 2 ¼ cups bread flour (or all-purpose flour) 1 teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon baking soda ½ cup malted milk powder 1 cup brown sugar 1 cup salted butter, melted 1 egg 1 egg yolk 2 teaspoons half and half 2 teaspoons vanilla extract 8 oz. bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (or two cups chocolate chips) Directions Melt butter over low heat in a medium saucepan and let cool to room temperature. Combine flour, salt, and baking soda; set aside. Pour the melted butter into the mixing bowl of your stand mixer. Add the sugar and malted milk powder and mix until combined. Add the egg, egg yolk, and vanilla and mix well. Add in the dry ingredients in at least two batches, beating on low until just mixed in. Fold in the chocolate chips. Chill dough mixture in the refrigerator for at least two hours. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Scoop out the batter in tablespoon-sized scoops (rolling into a ball with your hands) and place 2” apart on parchment-lined cookie sheets. Press down each ball of dough slightly with the palm of your hand to flatten. Bake for 8 to 12 minutes — depending on your oven and depending on how you like the doneness of your cookie — and remove from oven. Let sit on baking sheet for at least one minute before removing to a rack to cool completely. Makes about 30 cookies.