I’ve been accused of having a thing for crabby guys. I’m not sure what it is, but there is something about mild crabbiness and sarcasm that draws me in. It started with Bob Newhart reruns. I couldn’t get enough of that show. I thought he was cute. Next I started watching Letterman. So gruff! So snappy! I liked him. Then I took economics with Professor Azer. His lectures oozed with grumpy, witty jokes. I couldn’t help myself. I took another class. And last, but not least, I met my dear [A]. Funny, clever, sarcastic [A]. He stole my heart.
So what does this have to do with chocolate chip cookies? I’m not so sure, but I think it’s because a dear friend hinted that maybe my obsession with America’s Test Kitchen isn’t so much about the recipes. Maybe, she said, you just have a crush on a mildly gruff, funny cook.
It’s possible, I guess. But have you ever made their cookies? I shot back. The incredible chocolate chip cookies with the browned butter?
Because it doesn’t get better than this friends.
I’ve was torn between two chocolate chip cookie recipes, but I must admit that these are the ones I make the most. I love the caramel notes that the browned butter enhances, I love how gooey and rich they are, and I love how they bake up so beautifully.
I did make one small change; one tiny tweak, on a whim. I added a tablespoon of bourbon. I’m not sure what overcame me – I might have been thinking about these pecan bars. But whatever the case, the bourbon set these over the top. It added an extra layer of depth without being boozy, and drew out the browned butter flavor even more.
And maybe I am obsessed with America’s Test Kitchen, but they’ve never steered me wrong. I will pass these recipes down to my kids and grand kids. We will be browning lots of butter together. While watching Bob Newhart. And Chris Kimball. You might catch me giving them the cutie smile.
Chocolate Chip Cookies
adapted from Cooks Illustrated
This dough freezes well – form dough into balls and freeze on a baking sheet for one hour, then move to a freezer bag. Bake as normal, adding a minute or so to the baking time. I use ghirardelli bittersweet chocolate chips. Adding pecans brings out the bourbon flavor even more.
1 3/4 cup [8 3/4 ounces] flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
14 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup [3 1/2 ounces] sugar
3/4 cup [5 1/4 ounces] dark brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 tablespoon bourbon
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 1/4 cup [7 1/2 ounces] chocolate chips
3/4 cup pecans, toasted [optional]
Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 large (18- by 12-inch) baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk flour and baking soda together in medium bowl; set aside.
Heat 10 tablespoons butter in 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat until melted, about 2 minutes. Continue cooking, swirling pan constantly until butter is dark golden brown and has nutty aroma, 1 to 3 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and, using heatproof spatula, transfer browned butter to large heatproof bowl. Stir remaining 4 tablespoons butter into hot butter until completely melted.
Add both sugars, salt, bourbon and vanilla to bowl with butter and whisk until fully incorporated. Add egg and yolk and whisk until mixture is smooth with no sugar lumps remaining, about 30 seconds. Let mixture stand 3 minutes, then whisk for 30 seconds. Repeat process of resting and whisking 2 more times until mixture is thick, smooth, and shiny. Using rubber spatula or wooden spoon, stir in flour mixture until just combined, about 1 minute. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts [if using], giving dough final stir to ensure no flour pockets remain.
Divide dough into 16 portions, each about 3 tablespoons [or use #24 cookie scoop]. Arrange 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets, 8 dough balls per sheet [smaller baking sheets can be used, but will require 3 batches].
Bake cookies 1 tray at a time until cookies are golden brown and still puffy, and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft, 10 to 14 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking. Transfer baking sheet to wire rack; cool cookies completely before serving.