Who am I kidding? Most of the grown-ups I know would eat any chocolate chip cookie that happened to find its way into their personal airspace. Given a choice, though, most will express a firm bias on a number of variables, chewy vs. crisp being the most hotly contested. Secondary considerations include whether or not to add nuts, the supremacy of milk chocolate over dark (or vice-versa), the tyranny of including oatmeal, the imperative to underbake, size mandates, eat them warm? Serve with milk?
My personal preference is for a nicely-browned cookie with a satisfying crunch, nuts included, ample but not super-sized, and a little on the salty side. With bittersweet chocolate chips. To my taste, chewy chocolate chip cookies are tantamount to raw cookie dough. Nothing wrong with it in small doses, of course (a fingerful while mixing, licking the beaters & spoons), but it's not a food in and of itself (and don't get me started on the grotesquerie that is raw cookie dough ice cream).
A few weeks ago, a couple of my work associates went beyond the call of duty to help me out, and I wanted to express my gratitude. I was also itching to bake some cookies. And so, my compatriots became the happy benefactors of my compulsion (I believe a simple box of cookies falls well within the corporate guidelines for gifts from suppliers).
I had the minor inspiration to add some ground coffee beans to my standard recipe, with fine results. This may render them unsuitable for small children (although if they're already jacked up on sugar and chocolate, what's a little extra caffeine?).
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Chocolate Chip Cookies
Here's a helpful trick if you're using a stand mixer: to prevent the flour's exploding all over the place when you first start the mixer, just grab a kitchen towel and wrap it around the top of the bowl, with your hands touching at the back and your wrists securing the towel at the bowl's rim. You can reach up with a finger to start the mixer, and after a few turns you can safely pull the towel away. My Kitchen Aid came with a 3-piece plastic “splatter guard” designed for this purpose; it was so practical and effective that I used it once and threw it out.
1 1/4 c (150g) all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt (or a full teaspoon if using fluffy kosher salt)
1/2 c (125g) unsalted butter, softened
6 tbsp (75g) granulated sugar
6 tbsp (75g) dark brown sugar
1 vanilla bean (or 1 tsp vanilla extract)
1 large egg
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp hot water
1 c (100g) dark chocolate chips (preferably bittersweet)
1 c (125g) coarsely chopped walnuts, lightly toasted*
Optional: 2 tbsp dark-roasted coffee beans, ground, but not too finely (drip-grind is about right)
Heat oven to 375°F. Line baking sheet(s) with parchment paper.
Sift together flour and salt. Set aside.
Cream butter. Add sugars and beat until light and fluffy.
Using a sharp paring knife, split the vanilla bean in half lengthwise. Scrape out the vanilla seeds and add them to the butter/sugar mixture. If using vanilla extract instead, add it now. Add egg and beat for 2 minutes.
Dissolve baking soda in hot water. Stir into butter/sugar/egg mixture.
Blend in flour (and ground coffee, if using) in 2 or 3 batches, taking care not to overmix.
Blend in nuts and chocolate chips.
Drop in small mounds (I scoop balls about the size of a walnut) onto baking sheet, spacing 3” apart. Bake until uniformly light brown, 12 – 14 minutes, rotating baking sheets front to back and top to bottom halfway through.
Makes about 32 cookies.
* I think the cookies taste better if you toast the nuts lightly first. 10 minutes at 350°F seems about right. Be sure and let them cool completely before adding them to the dough.