Recipes in full

Tara O'Brady's Basic, Great Chocolate Chip Cookies

My obsession with baking chocolate chip cookies started in high school. Yet, despite the many years of study, the resulting recipe is simple as possible--there is no need for a mixer, or to get the eggs and butter out of the fridge in advance. It is from start to cookies in 30 minutes, with little by way of cleaning up.

Basic, Great Chocolate Chip Cookies | Tara O'Brady

Even if these cookies required a rigamarole, they’d be worth it. They stay in fattish mounds, with their humped backs shot through with crackles, squidgy without being underbaked, and with a sweetness straightened by salt.

This recipe works best with bar chocolate that has been chopped, pure chocolate buttons, callets, or fèves. As they lack the stabilizers used in chocolate chips, these forms of chocolate ooze into the batter during baking, slipping into the cracks and leaving both puddles and eking rivulets throughout the finished cookies. The irregularity is exceptionally pretty and, in a way, gives the impression the chocolate goes further.

If you have the patience, hold the dough in the fridge overnight and up to a few days before baking, pre-portioned in scoops and covered. Aging the dough allows for better absorption of the liquids by the flour. The flavor will become deeply caramelly and nuanced, and the cookies will have more color. I usually bake one tray for immediate gratification, and keep the rest for later demand.

From my cookbook, Seven Spoons (Ten Speed Press and Appetite by Random House)

Makes about 28 cookies

INGREDIENTS

  • 1 cup | 225 g unsalted butter, chopped

  • 3 1/4 cups | 415 g all-purpose flour

  • 1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder

  • 1 teaspoon baking soda

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons medium-grained kosher salt

  • 1 1/2 cups | 320 g packed light brown sugar

  • 1/2 cup | 100 g granulated sugar

  • 2 eggs

  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract

  • 12 ounces | 340 g semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped

  • Flaky sea salt, for sprinkling (optional)

METHOD

Preheat an oven to 360°F | 180°C. Line two baking sheets or sheet pans with parchment paper.

In a medium saucepan over the lowest heat possible, melt the butter. There should be no sizzle, crackling or pops; let the butter ooze into liquid, without boiling, so minimal moisture is lost. Stir regularly, until the butter is almost completely melted. (This is a good time to chop the chocolate.)

In a bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside.

Pour melted butter into a large bowl, and then whisk in the sugars. The mixture may look to seize, but will relax with a few seconds of stirring. Add the eggs, one at a time, whisking briskly after each addition, but only to combine. Stir in the vanilla. Use a wooden spoon or silicone spatula to stir in the dry ingredients. Once mostly blended, fold the chocolate into the dough until the remaining flour is incorporated and the dough no longer looks dusty. Bring any stray ingredients up from the bottom of the bowl. Do not over mix.

Using two spoons or a #20 disher, drop 3 tablespoon-sized balls of dough onto prepared pans, leaving 3 inches in between. Sprinkle with sea salt, if using. Bake in the hot oven until the tops are cracked and lightly golden, yet still soft at the center, 10 to 12 minutes, rotating pan halfway through cooking. Leave the cookies on the sheet pan for 2 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool. Continue shaping and baking cookies with the remaining dough, making sure to use a cold sheet pan for each batch.

Cookies can be kept at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

Notes:

I prefer baking batches one tray at a time, but two pans can be baked together, one on a rack in the upper third, and one in the lower. Rotate pants from top to bottom and front to back once while baking.

To make ahead, shape the dough in scoops or logs, wrap tightly, then seal in bags, and keep in the freezer for up to 3 months. Frozen scoops can be baked without defrosting, while logs should be held in the fridge until soft enough to slice. Reduce oven temperature to 330°F/165°C and increasing the baking time as needed.