Last Saturday I made chocolate chip cookies using the Ad Hoc recipe to bring to Dahlia's birthday party. As I'm not exactly a maven in the kitchen, I generally only bake cookies (or make any sort of dessert) for special occasions, not for the purpose of fulfilling my incessant craving for chocolate chip cookies. When I'm awake, I want cookies. When I'm asleep, I want cookies. When I'm dead my disembodied soul will want cookies. (That gives me an idea for a picture book: Robyn Wants Cookies. Each page would be me in a different situation thinking about cookies. "In the deepest part of the ocean, Robyn wants cookies / In the eye of a tornado, Robyn wants cookies / In a town made of Jell-O, Robyn munches on a cherry-favored lamp post, and still wants cookies.")
Incessant. Yes. Chocolate chip cookies are my favorite dessert. Even more so than macarons. A warm chocolate chip cookie out of the oven, with the gooey chocolate bits, crispiness around the edge, and barely cooked middle, is...everything that is good in the world of cookies. Luckily, they're super easy to make and hard to mess up, if my experience is any indication.
The Ad Hoc recipe gave me just what I wanted. Gooey chocolate chunks, crispy rim, and a soft middle in a nicely sized cookie package. Over the course of the day, I ate maybe...eight of them. Or seven. Mostly at Dahlia's party. When you lose count, that's probably too many. Chichi and Colin were at my apartment while I was baking them, so they helped me eat a few.
I did a few things differently from the recipe. First, I didn't sift the flour and baking soda, nor did I remove the chocolate "dust." Granted, that's because I'm sort of...lazy, but also because Chichi told me I didn't need to sift for such a small batch. And I think she was right; after whisking the flour and baking soda together the baking soda distributed fine, and I didn't miss any leavening that the sifting would've contributed. I attempted to strain out the chocolate dust, but it didn't work so I figured it wouldn't impact deliciousness much, just the cookie's appearance.
What I should've done differently was use softened butter instead of cold butter like the recipe says. The recipe assumes you have a stand mixer. Which I don't. Chichi told me that cold butter may be okay in a stand mixer, but it doesn't really work with a hand mixer with beaters, as I discovered when I had to turn off my mixer and poke hard butter bits out of the beaters every five seconds. Unsmart. I eventually managed to mash the butter into submission and successfully cream it with the sugar, but it probably took longer than it was supposed to.
Speaking of different butter temperatures in chocolate chip cookies, I've also made them using melted butter in this recipe from America's Test Kitchen with good results. I'm sure someone more knowledgeable about baking could explain the different results you get from making cookies with butters at different temperatures. I understand using cold butter chunklets in pastry crusts and biscuits, but that's about it.
Although I used to use this recipe as my default chocolate chip cookie recipe for years, I'm going to stick with the Ad Hoc one from now on.
But what if I want a cookie without being drugged by the potent scent of 30 cookies cooling in the kitchen? I'd go to Roasting Plant in the West Village. I took Los Angeles food blogger Javier there a few weeks ago after we ate lunch at Taim since we at Serious Eats had voted their chocolate chip cookie the best in the city.
Roasting Plant doesn't make them from scratch—the dough is from wholesale Tom Cat Bakery—but they bake them fresh. (This means you may have to wait a while for cookies if they sold out of their latest batch.) The result is a craggly cookie that has an airy crispiness on the outside, and is soft, gooey, and a little chewy on the well-chocolated inside. And it's a thin cookie, not one of those hock puck-sized things (not that those can't also be good, as I am a fan of Levain's behemoths; they're just unreasonably large for any normal-sized human being). It's like the smashed burger of cookies.