It recently occurred to me that although I’ve made plenty of cookies with chocolate, including several takes on chocolate chunk biscotti, I have never actually put up a recipe for plain old American chocolate chip cookies. It’s about time I rectified that.
These are not my trademark chocolate chip cookies, which are a kitchen-sink affair involving a number of extra ingredients I don’t currently have on hand. Instead, I looked at the four different versions in my temporarily reduced cookbook collection and decided on the one in Entertaining for a Veggie Planet, because I can’t use Cook’s Illustrated every single time, and Didi Emmons has never failed to exceed expectations. Her recipes always look deceptively simple, yet are supremely doable and yield huge taste dividends.
I made a few changes to the recipe, starting by doubling it to ensure I’d have enough to share. I also added the hazelnuts from the deconstructed trail mix whence came the cashews for the granola bars, and supplemented them with walnuts because I didn’t have enough of either for the doubled amount. Finally, I changed the method a little bit, and most importantly, aged the dough overnight.
Aging the batter overnight is not absolutely essential, but it does make a difference and is worth doing if you can. I discovered this inadvertently years ago when I was routinely too time-pressed or lazy to bake all the dough on a single day, and eventually realized that the next-day batch was always better than the first day’s. Apparently this is because the flour has more time to fully hydrate, as the New York Times recently reported, setting off a blogstorm of cookie baking with the Jacques Torres-inspired recipe that accompanied the article. It’s nice to know that the wages of sloth are chewy, buttery, and chocolatey.
The appropriately aged cookies were a little flatter than I would like but were quite tasty, especially with a tiny sprinkling of extra sea salt on top, as suggested by the NYT. In the future, I would bump up the quantity of nuts for a little more structure, and probably just use hazelnuts if possible, since hazelnuts do not get enough cookie love outside Italy, in my biased opinion.
These are not a replacement for my trademark version, which I still (immodestly) think are close to perfect, but there’s nothing wrong with a perfectly respectable second place.
Chocolate Chip Cookies with Walnuts and Hazelnuts
(Adapted from Didi Emmons’ Entertaining for a Veggie Planet)
Makes 6-7 dozen
1 cup each chopped walnuts and skinned or blanched hazelnuts
2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (2 1/4 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon fine sea salt
2 large eggs
12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 350 F. Spread the nuts on a baking sheet and toast until golden, approximately 5 minutes. Remove and let cool.
In the bowl of stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter and sugars until very light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides and beat in the salt and vanilla. Beat in the eggs one at a time, incorporating the first fully before adding the second.
In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and baking soda. With the mixer on low, stir in the flour and soda until just incorporated, then repeat with the nuts and chocolate. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight, and preferably 24 hours.
Preheat the oven to 350 F again, and line two or more baking sheets with parchment paper. Scoop rounded tablespoons of the dough with a cookie scoop or large spoon onto the sheets, spacing at least 2 inches apart. If desired, sprinkle lightly with additional sea salt. Bake each batch 8 minutes, until golden, then cool on the sheet for 5 minutes. Remove to a wire rack to cool.
Store in an airtight container.
I like Ghirardelli double chocolate chips, which at 60% cacao solids are darker and deeper than regular semisweet chips. Guittard’s chips are also good. Naturally, if you want to go with Valrhona or Callebaut or another premium selection, I wouldn’t dream of stopping you, although in my experience there’s a point of diminishing returns with chocolate chip cookies.