The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies

This is a bold but truthful title. I’ll write that sentence without adding, “I think,” or, “in my opinion,” because of course it’s what I think, and you’re reading my blog, so what other opinion should I endorse? Also, I read this article once about how women tend to write with caveats, making their arguments sound more of opinion than fact and, consequently, weaker. I think that’s interesting, because I definitely find it difficult not to write that way. It only seems fair to underscore that I only write from my own perspective, which is of course limited by my little version of reality that may be missing great bounds of information that would otherwise change my mind. But, maybe this is something that should be understood of everyone? Maybe we should always assume opinion of words, not facts, and cross-check our references until we make up our own minds. But, that’s all neither here-nor-there. The point is, I made some very good cookies for my dad when he came to visit.

To me, these cookies are the best because of their height, fluffy centers, chewy yet soft texture, and chunks of chips and nuts. I don’t like thin cookies nearly as much, and I certainly don’t want overly crunchy ones. It seems everyone agrees that a cookie should have a crisp bite followed by a soft middle, and while I share that belief, I am a big proponent of an overly full, overly soft middle. I want the perfect balance of a crumbling to creamy texture inside. And, mostly, I want my cookie to be really big. I’m pretty done with small cookies. They never achieve as much.

These are a derivation of the classic Tollhouse recipe, because, honestly, those are the ones that have always been best received by my cookie tasters (namely, my brothers, friends, and classmates). There are many articles regarding trials between various cookie “bests,” so, by all means, research your favorite techniques. However, in trying a few myself, most I find to be fairly indiscernibly improved. I employ a few little tricks to my cookies, but in truth, a cookie made is better than a cookie conceived. So if extra time stops you from baking, please just make them in the way you find most approachable.

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Chocolate Chip Cookies

Makes 24-30 cookies

2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour

1 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

2 sticks/ 8 tbsp. butter

1 cup white sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

2 large eggs

1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

1 bag Ghirardelli chocolate chips (or other favorite brand)

1/2 cup pecans and walnuts, chopped

Heat the oven to 385 degrees.

In a stand mixer or large bowl, beat the butter and sugars together until paling and creamy, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time until thoroughly incorporated. Add the vanilla extract and stir.

In a medium bowl, mix together the flour, baking soda, and salt.

Add the dry mixture to the wet batter on a low mix speed. Mix together until the flour is just absorbed into the batter. Add the chips and nuts and mix until just combined.

Refrigerate the dough for 30-60 minutes.

Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Drop the cookies in 2-3 tbsp. mounds, shaped lightly into balls. Bake for 10-12 minutes until lightly golden around the edges. Remove from the oven and, after 2-3 minutes cooling in the pan, move to a cooling rack.

Enjoy!

Birthday Pancakes

I’m 26 today! It may be windy and cold in Chicago, but the sun is out, and I’m feeling the love from family and friends here in the city and far away on the East coast. Time to celebrate and start the day the best way I know how: with a mountain of fluffy pancakes.

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Birthday Pancakes (Chocolate Chip and Pecan)

Serves 1-2

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

2 tsp. baking soda

1/2 tsp. salt

1/2 tbsp. sugar

3/4 cup milk

1 tbsp. butter, melted

1/2 whisked egg (sorry that’s inconvenient; double the recipe to make it “normal”

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 tbsp. dark chocolate chunks

1 tbsp. pecans, chopped finely

Sift together the dry ingredients in a medium mixing bowl. In a separate bowl, melt the butter. Add half of a whisked egg, 3/4 cup milk, and vanilla. Whisk together the wet ingredients and pour over the dry. Using a whisk or a fork, lightly mix the batter until just combined. A few lumps here and there are fine. Set the batter aside to rest for 5-10 minutes. It’s relatively thick batter; it makes them extra fluffy.

Heat a griddle to 350 degrees. Have canola oil, grapeseed oil, or butter available to lightly grease the pan.

Chop the chocolate and pecans and mix in a small bowl. Set aside.

Pour about a teaspoon of oil or butter onto the griddle and spread with thinly.

Use a 1/4 cup measuring cup to pour the pancake batter onto the griddle. Use the bottom of the measuring cup to swirl the batter into a circle (the batter will be thick). I was able to make 4 5-inch pancakes. Sprinkle the chocolate and pecans onto each pancake, and press them lightly into the batter.

Allow the pancakes to cook for about 3 minutes, until the batter is just bubbling (since it’s so thick, it won’t be as obvious as usual, especially with the pecans and chocolate covering the top). Once the underside is done, flip the pancakes and cook another 3 minutes, until golden brown and cooked all the way through.

Top with a pat of butter, some sifted powdered sugar, and, of course, maple syrup. This was incredibly filling, but oh-so-fluffy and delicious. An indulgent breakfast for a newly 26-year-old, starting this year RIGHT.