He spoke to Herve Poussot, a baker and an owner of Almondine in Dumbo, Brooklyn, who warned him it was more than a recipe he was looking for.
He researched the technique of Ruth Graves Wakefield, who owned the Toll House Inn in Whitman, Massachusettes in the 1930s, where she invented the chocolate chip cookie, and who once wrote that she would let the dough rest overnight before using it. He spoke to Shirley Corriher, author of CookWise, a book about science in the kitchen, who agreed that an overnight rest was the best way to get a drier and richer dough that has fully soaked up the egg.
He spoke to Maury Rubin, owner of the rightly fawned-over City Bakery (a place as famed by the public at large for its chcolate chip cookies as it is on this site, for the cranberry caramel and almond tart), who said that they must be served warm, that the dough must rest for at least 36 hours and that they must be big enough to allow for three different textures: crisp edges, a soft center and a ring between them which is chewy, with hints of toffee.
He spoke to Jacques Torres of Jacques Torres Chocolates, who said that baking chocolate was best, as were large pieces.
He spoke to Dorie Greenspan who said that he shouldn’t underestimate the value of salt in baked goods.
And then Leite came up with a recipe that was a sum of all of the things that he learned, and it was published in the New York Times.
Oh, and what did I do, so that my account of these cookies could live up to the amount of research, dedication and love put into their creation? I baked them.
And I broke one open.
And quickly discovered that I am not as generous of a person as I once thought I was. So if you’re coming over to my apartment tonight to bite your nails and watch the election returns, don’t be surprised if I’m all “what cookies?” and only bring out pepita brittle for dessert. The Smitten Kitchen, as it turns out, is no democracy.
One year ago: Roasted, Stuffed Onions
Yield: 1 1/2 dozen 5-inch cookies.
2 cups minus 2 tablespoons
(8 1/2 ounces) cake flour
1 2/3 cups (8 1/2 ounces) bread flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) light brown sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (8 ounces) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract
1 1/4 pounds bittersweet chocolate disks or fèves, at least 60 percent cacao content
1. Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Set aside.
2. Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars together until very light, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. Reduce speed to low, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds. Drop chocolate pieces in and try to incorporate them without breaking them. Press plastic wrap against dough and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours. [Dough may be used in batches, and can be refrigerated for up to 72 hours.]
3. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Set aside.
4. Scoop 6 3 1/2-ounce mounds of dough (the size of generous golf balls) onto baking sheet, making sure to turn horizontally any chocolate pieces that are poking up; it will make for a more attractive cookie. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and bake until golden brown but still soft, 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer sheet to a wire rack for 10 minutes, then slip cookies onto another rack to cool a bit more. Repeat with remaining dough, or reserve dough, refrigerated, for baking remaining batches the next day. Eat warm, with a big napkin.
* I found Valrhona’s fèves or oval-shaped chocolate pieces, at Whole Foods in half pounds. Baking discs can be found from a number of brands, from Jacques Torres to E. Guittard (Fresh Direct used to sell these by the quarter pound, but now just in one pound boxes, but still at a very reasonable price) to Ghiradelli. Can’t find them? Use the largest chocolate chips you can find. Ghiradelli sells some slighly larger ones in the brown bag (as opposed to the standard-sized chips in the gold bag) though I may have mixed the two varieties up. It wouldn’t be the first time.