There is something uniquely heartwarming about freshly baked chocolate chip cookies. The sweet smell fills the room as you watch the little dough mounds puff and spread, that for some reason, has an effect that is unmatched by any other cookie. Looking at the cookies as they cool on the baking sheet, it becomes very easy to forget the meaning of self-restraint. You want to bite into them while the chocolate is still melty and the centers are still gooey but, as you know from childhood, two bad things could happen if you do: 1) you can burn your tongue with the hot goodness and 2) you might get a tummy ache afterward (though you know that in both cases, it’s well worth it)!
So in order to receive the full effect of a soft, freshly baked cookie that lasts for days, I began experimenting with recipes to get the perfect chocolate chip cookie: one that is thick and not flat, moist and soft in the center, crisp on the edges, and the right ratio of chocolate chips to cookie dough. This started as a simple project…but it soon developed into a little obsession of mine. I researched cookie recipe after cookie recipe. I considered using different flours, butter or shortening, brown sugar to white sugar ratios, and various types of chocolate chips. Finally, I came across a concept that really opened my eyes and is a drastic change in the type of leavening.
Instant Yeast! Yes, you read that correctly! I started with a recipe for chewy chocolate chip cookies that I knew would result in the soft center, chewy cookie that I was looking for and replaced the leavening it called for with the ingredient known to add a lift while maintaining the shape of the baked good. The cookies turned out to be simply the best! They were lightly browned and crisp on the outside, yet incredibly soft and moist in the center. But the best part was not the texture, although that was nearly perfect. The best part was the flavor! The cookies tasted clean and sweet, unobstructed by the “chemically” taste of baking soda/baking powder. The texture was that of the perfect cookie but the flavor was like a chocolate chip cookie flavored sweet bread!
I highly recommend that you take your favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe (or any drop cookie recipe for that matter) and replace the baking soda or baking powder with about a teaspoon of highly active dry yeast. I can guess that you will be quite pleased with the results.
This experiment of mine is still ongoing and I would also love any input you have after trying out this happy little accident 🙂
- 8 ounces of unsalted butter
- 12 ounces of bread flour
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt1
- teaspoon baking soda
- 2 ounces granulated sugar
- 8 ounces light brown sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 ounce whole milk
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
- Melt the butter in a 2-quart saucepan over low heat. Set aside to cool slightly.
- Sift together the flour, salt, and baking soda onto a paper plate. Pour the butter into your stand mixer’s work bowl. Add the sugar and brown sugar and beat with the paddle attachment on medium speed for 2 minutes.
- Meanwhile, whisk together the whole egg, egg yolk, milk, and vanilla extract in a measuring cup. Reduce the mixer speed and slowly add the egg mixture. Mix until thoroughly combined, about 30 seconds.
- Using the paper plate as a slide, gradually integrate the dry ingredients, stopping a couple of times to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Once the flour is worked in, drop the speed to “stir” and add the chocolate chips. Chill the dough for 1 hour.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F and place racks in the top third and bottom third of the oven.
- Scoop the dough into 1 1/2-ounce portions onto parchment-lined half-sheet pans, 6 cookies per sheet. Bake 2 sheets at a time for 15 minutes, rotating the pans halfway through. Remove from the oven, slide the parchment with the cookies onto a cooling rack, and wait at least 5 minutes before devouring.
The darker the sugar you use, the chewier your cookies will be.