3.24.11 § 10 Comments
This Christmas was rough. It was the first Christmas my mother and I spent without my grandmother, which was obviously going to be hard. On top of that, I think that every time the phone rang we were both terrified it would be someone calling to tell us that Ginnie was no longer with us. We had just gotten home from spending nearly a week with her in the hospital and we were in such a funk that we toyed with the idea of skipping Christmas completely, not even putting up the tree. When we finally did decide to put it up, we had such different ideas about where in the house to put it that both of us were reduced to tears. (I wanted to place it in the middle of the hallway that blocked the front door for two very sensible reasons: 1. It would be easy to sit by the fire and see the television and the tree at the same time, which is very important for movie-watching purposes. 2. It would keep out unwanted guests. (Did I mention we were having trouble being around people who weren’t über-depressed?))
Thankfully, we’re both able to laugh at ourselves and before I knew it we had gone from both of us crying about the stupid tree to both of us cracking up about how silly we were being. But then before I knew it we were bawling again, because Ginnie always helps decorate the tree. I think that’s the real reason we were stalling: we didn’t want to do it without her.
And all of the usual Christmas baking? I had ambitions. I made a long list of things to whip up, but then I didn’t feel much like whipping. I did actually start to make cranberry turtle bars, but after I made the shortbread base I let it sit on the table for a week without ever making a topping. Oh, and I made some gingerbread. The loaves caved in the middle.
It wasn’t until I came across Molly Wizenberg’s love letter to Cookie in my saved pages that I said, “You know what, mom? We have to make these. Because I have a feeling they’re magic and they are going to make us feel at least marginally better.” Okay, I didn’t actually say that. I think it was something more along the lines of, “Damn it, we are making these effing cookies because we haven’t baked anything and it is pissing me off!” Bake them we did. And I was right, they were kind of magical. They really were some of the best chocolate chip cookies I’ve ever had, and there is definitely something to be said for comfort food when you’re depressed.
And so, earlier this week when I was feeling overwhelmed by life, I decided it was time to make them again. My friend Sally and I put the dough together on Tuesday night, and after the mandatory 36 hours of refrigeration, I baked them this morning. And now I have a new problem: there are 32 huge, salty, glorious chocolate chip cookies sitting in my kitchen, and they’re calling my name. Oops, make that 30…
*Molly recommended using a kitchen scale, but I don’t have one. Also, like Molly, I just used regular flour instead of cake and bread flours. Also, I hate trying to do kitchen math, so rather than combining the flour measurements to make it easy for my readers, I just did the two separately, which is kind of a pain in the ass, but the cookies are worth it. I promise.
2 cups minus 2 Tbsp. (8 ½ oz.) cake flour
1 2/3 cups (8 ½ oz.) bread flour
**If you’re me this was 2 cups minus 2 tbsp of flour, followed by 1 2/3 cups of…flour.
1 ¼ tsp. baking soda
1 ½ tsp. baking powder
1 ½ tsp. coarse salt, such as kosher
2 ½ sticks (1 ¼ cups; 10 oz.) unsalted butter, softened
1 ¼ cups (10 oz.) light brown sugar
1 cup plus 2 Tbsp. (8 oz.) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 ¼ pounds bittersweet chocolate chips or chunks, preferably about 60% cacao content, such as Ghirardelli (I just used two full 11 oz. bags of the Ghiradelli chips, which is just over 1 ¼ pounds.)
Sea salt, such as Maldon
Combine your flour(s), baking soda, baking powder, and salt in a bowl. Whisk well and set aside.
Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars until very light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add in the vanilla and mix. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula as needed. Reduce your mixer speed to low and slowly add dry ingredients, mixing until just combined. (I used my plastic guard that sits around the bowl of my mixer, but if you don’t have one, Molly suggests carefully holding a dish towel around the top of the bowl to keep flour from flying everywhere.) Add the chocolate chips, and mix briefly to incorporate. (There are so many chocolate chips that it feels like the dough won’t come together. You must will it to come together! Haha, don’t worry.) Press plastic wrap against the dough, and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours. (Molly says that the dough may be used in batches and can be refrigerated for up to 72 hours.)
When you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350°F. Remove the bowl of dough from the refrigerator, and allow it to soften slightly. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. (Really, you should use two baking sheets at a time if you can, because if not this will take forever.)
Using a standard-size ice cream scoop scoop six mounds of dough onto the baking sheet, making sure to space them evenly. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt, and bake until golden brown but still soft, 15 to 20 minutes. Transfer the baking sheet to a wire rack for 10 minutes, then transfer the cookies onto the rack to cool a bit more.
Repeat with remaining dough.
Please let them cool before you try to eat them. I just burned my tongue on a chocolate chip…