Trial and error

Baking sometimes is a bit like dating. You flirt with new recipes and new cookbooks. You might even take them out on a couple of dates. But it takes a long time to find “The One”.

When it comes to the humble chocolate chip cookie, I have dated a lot. It’s a really simple thing. It’s a cookie with chocolate chips in. Really, how complicated can it be?! But apparently the ultimate in chocolate chip cookies is hard to find. The worst thing is that even after I found The One, I kept looking. I even cheated, but only once. I blame James Martin for the incident. Sometimes a girl can’t resist Sweet Baby James…

chocolate chip cookies

But after that, there really only was one recipe for me. It’s perfect. It should be considering the chef whose creation it is was working at a Michelin starred restaurant when she wrote the book that contains it. The chef in question is Claire Clark who at the time was the pastry chef at the French Laundry in California.

The book, Indulge, is amazing with recipes from the achievable to the “only if you’re a trained pastry chef” but I do desperately want to conquer them all. In the meantime, the cookies are to die for and the recipe is as follows:

  • 185g plain flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon bicarbonate of soda
  • pinch of salt
  • 125g softened, unsalted butter
  • 165g soft dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 medium egg, lightly beaten
  • 225g dark chocolate, finely chopped

Preheat the oven to 180°C.

Cream together the butter and the sugar which is why it is important the butter is soft. I confess I do this in my (very pretty) Kitchen Aid mixer so if the butter isn’t really soft it doesn’t matter, it’s not my arm that dies. If your butter is a bit hard then chop it into cubes and put it in the microwave for a few seconds or, if your bowl is oven-proof, then plonk it in the oven for a minute or so. Do not, however, do my trick and end up with melted butter. It makes life somewhat awkward…

When these are nice and pale and fluffy (and your arm feels like it’s about to drop off), start adding the egg and vanilla, a little bit at a time. If you add too much then it will curdle but don’t panic if it does, just add a tablespoon full of the flour. No bother.

Once you’ve added all the egg and vanilla, fold through the flour and bicarbonate of soda. Do this very gently as you don’t want to overwork the gluten or you will end up with chewy cookies. And that is not chewy in a good way.

Once the flour is mixed in then all that is left is the chocolate. And there is a lot of chocolate. Sometimes it feels like there is more chocolate than cookie but how can that be a bad thing? Stir this through the dough as gently as you can in order to get the chocolate mixed through the dough completely.

Now of course you can just eat it at this stage (although I do have to say, there are raw eggs so pregnant women, elderly people and small children really shouldn’t have any) but to actually make cookies, put about a tablespoon of mixture on a baking sheet but only put about six on a big baking sheet or they will all join together when they bake.

Bake for about 10-12 minutes. It is a bit of a vague one because it depends on so many things, exactly how hot your oven is, how well your baking sheet conducts heat… They should be puffed up and a bit golden. You don’t want to have them too baked or they’ll be crunchy rather than a bit gooey.

So there you are, the perfect chocolate chip cookie. And even better, you should end up with about 20 of them. Glass of milk and a book, what more do you need?

Average Josephine x