The simple truth is, I am a cookie fiend. Not that I can resist sweets of any kind, but cookies are truly on a different level. I can eat a dozen in a sitting, and crave them again an hour later. The odd thing about something as classic as chocolate chip cookies is there are hundreds of thousands of recipes, all with the same ingredients, yet the results vary so widely. My great-grandmother crafted legendary thick, fluffy, crumbly cookies. My mother makes a soft, flat, chewy cookie. Bakery cookies tend to disappoint (doesn’t slow down my consumption, of course) so I’ve long been on the quest for the perfect at-home cookie recipe. My attempts are always too crisp and wafery, or too dry, or too greasy, or too chokingly substantial. But after I attempted this version, my search is over. The ingredients are the same as any other recipe, but the proportions produce the_best_cookies of my life. I have made them many times now, with only one batch I considered a failure (overcooked) but my family still devoured that batch without complaint. Also: I always thought I was a no-nuts-in-my-cookies kind of girl, but that was before I discovered the magnificence of just-toasted pecans. Try this recipe, and you will throw out all others in your collection.
Chocolate Chip Cookies
yields ~30 cookies
2/3 cup pecans, walnuts, or hazelnuts
1 stick butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt (or 1/4 tsp table salt, but really, don’t even keep that crap in your kitchen)
1 1/4 cups flour
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate bits
1. Preheat oven to 350*. When the oven is hot, spill the nuts onto an ungreased baking sheet and toast for 10 minutes, just until fragrant. Remove from heat and set aside until cool, then chop or smash them into smaller bits (bash them with a rolling pin in a freezer bag, for example). It’s fine if some are reduced to powder; you don’t want any large chunks. (You do this step first to give the nuts time to cool; if you add them hot to the dough, they will melt the chocolate.) Special note for hazelnuts: while still hot, shake the nuts in a colander to loosen the skins. When cooled, remove the skins with your fingers, then chop them up.
2. Reduce oven to 325*. With an electric mixer and a large bowl, beat together butter and sugars until smooth, scraping down the sides as needed. Add egg and vanilla and beat until smooth.
3. In a smaller bowl, mix baking soda and salt with the flour, and stir with a whisk. Slowly beat the flour mixture into the wet ingredients. Stir in chopped nuts and chocolate bits with a spatula.
4. Line 2 or 3 baking sheets with parchment. Drop by tablespoons onto baking sheets, and cook 14 – 16 minutes, just until solid. Cookies will set more as they cool. These are BEST after 24 hours, if you can wait that long.