Watching Top Chef’s recent quick fire, I had to shake my head in wonder. The cookie monster showed up and challenged the all star contestant chefs to make a cookie. And, then there was panic. How can some of the best trained and knowledgeable chefs not know how to make a cookie?
Angelo, you broke my heart. Your cookie debacle was the start of your spiral down and out of the competition, and I expected you to win it all, even if you do wear black socks with shorts. You are good enough, but just not humble enough, but I’m still a fan and was so sad to see you leave. Richard Blais, I think you are the one to beat, and I adore you, but you need to know that you looked really silly using liquid nitrogen to make zucchini ice cream and trying to pass that off as a cookie. It’s like you tried to call a hat a dress and the girl went to the party naked.
Chefs, even Thomas Keller has a chocolate chip cookie in his repertoire. He is probably smart enough to know this is quintessentially America’s favorite sweet comfort food. You can’t be a master top chef, if you can’t make a chocolate chip cookie, because it’s too basic to play dumb.
While there is a difference between the focus of a pastry chef and the focus of an executive chef, there should be some cross over. I wouldn’t trust a pastry chef that felt helpless and hopeless making dinner, and I don’t trust a chef that can’t make a chocolate chip cookie. It’s like a sommelier not knowing how to pour a glass of milk.
If I were to be honest, I myself was not much of a baker when I started this blog. I, too, would say, “you bring the dessert, I’ll make the entree.” But, everyone loves dessert even if like me they don’t have the every day sweet tooth. How could I really call myself a home cook, food blogger and not challenge myself to make a few cakes, cookies and tarts. I discovered there is a bit of a science and a lot of creativity in the pastry world, and then there is a level of skill that is more than admirable the higher up the chain of pastry making you go. (I’m no where near that level, but I’ve mastered profiteroles and croquembouche is on my bucket list.) I also discovered a theme in the cookie world. Everyone but everyone has their personal variation of the chocolate chip cookie. Nuts, no nuts, chocolate cookie dough, bacon, dried fruit, whole wheat, organic, gluten free, vegan, big, little, and even gigantic.
I personally love the original Nestle toll house recipe and I use it, even though I usually chop my own chocolate or use bittersweet chips instead of semi-sweet. I recently read a few ways to improve the original recipe by melting the butter and tripling the vanilla.
Tips (and their tips) for Making Great Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Use real butter, unsalted.
- Use good bittersweet chocolate (either chips or chopped), but the semi-sweet are good too.
- Refrigerate dough for 24 hours before baking.
- Melt butter and mix with sugar.
- Don’t flatten out, spoon the cookies in nice mounds for a chunky cookie with a bite.
- Crumble into your next vanilla ice cream (if you want people to love you forever)
- Bake cookies right as people are arriving to your home (Makes an awesome first impression).
- Try dried fruit, such as dried cherries a natural pairing for chocolate.
- Never be too proud or too big for your chef’s hat to master a cookie.
- Serve with milk (this is a given right).
The Chocolate Chip Cookie and The Cookie Monster on Top Chef
- 1 cup butter unsalted, melted
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 2 extra large eggs
- 1 tablespoon vanilla
- 2 1/2 plus 2 tablespoons cups all purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon sea salt
- 2 cups of chopped chocolate or chips
- 1/2 cup dried cherries optional
- 1/2 cup toasted chopped walnuts (optional, but I think necessary)
- Cream butter and sugars together. Add eggs one at a time. Add vanilla.
- Mix dry ingredients in separate bowl together
- Add flour mixture to wet ingredients.
- Add in chocolate, dried fruit, nuts and thoroughly incorporate.
- Spoon onto ungreased cookie sheet. It doesn’t matter what size you make as long as the size is consistent.
- Bake 9-11 minutes at 375. (Adjust baking time if cookies are larger than a teaspoon).
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