Sunday, February 13, 2011

World's best cookies, plus a trip

I suppose calling these the world's best cookies is a bit of an exaggeration. I mean, I have some other pretty good cookie recipes (like these, these, and these). But, for dramatic effect, I'm going to stick with my claim. I believe in the power of embellishment.

I actually made these a few weeks ago. In fact, I posted about them a long time ago, probably before any of you read this blog. But I didn't include the recipe. So I thought maybe I could squeak by with a repeat.

Plus, I haven't cooked that many new things recently to merit blog posts. We've been eating out a lot, hitting some of our favorite spots multiple times over the last few weeks (like Starbelly, Out the Door, and Nopalito). I guess right now, being out is a little more comforting than being in.

We've also been very busy, and shopping for groceries has taken a back seat. What we have we been doing? you ask. Well, planning a trip, my friends.

Toward the end of Frances's life, we were worried about taking an international trip and being far away in case something happened with her health. I'm sure any of you who are parents to either humans or animals might relate. No one can convince you that anyone could take as good care of your loved one as you. But now that things have changed, we are finally taking a long postponed trip to Europe: two weeks, split between Paris and Barcelona.

Since we're going in April, we've been scurrying to get things in order, like plane tickets and reservations and passports. It's been lots of fun. We're constantly buzzing about what we want to do, whether or not the amount we plan to walk will justify the amount we plan to eat, what to wear so that we don't stand out as tacky tourists, how quickly one of us can get a handle on some basic Catalan (this is largely in the husband's court as he knows Spanish. They're similar...right?). I can hardly wait to get there and unleash my terrible high school French on any number of horrified Parisians.

So if you have any recommendations on where to go or what to eat in either of those cities, please share them. We welcome any and all recommendations.

In the meantime, I give you (one of the) world's best cookie recipes. They really are the perfect chocolate chip cookie--sweet but not too, chewy, and packed with chocolate. And if you can bear to take a few extra minutes to follow the assembly instructions, you won't regret it. They produce the most attractive chocolate chip cookies I've ever seen.

Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
From Baking Illustrated

Makes about 18 large cookies.

2 c. plus 2 T. flour
1/2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. salt
12 T. unsalted butter, melted and cooled to warm
1 c. packed light or dark brown sugar
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
2 t. vanilla extract
1-1/2 c. semisweet chocolate chips

Adjust the oven racks to the upper and lower-middle positions and heat the oven to 325. Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper or spray them with nonstick spray.

Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl and set aside.

Either by hand or with an electric mixer, mix the butter and sugars until thoroughly blended. Beat in the egg, yolk, and vanilla until combined. Add the dry ingredients and beat at low speed until just combined. Stir in the chips to taste.

Roll a scant 1/4 cup of the dough into a ball. Hold the dough ball with the fingertips of both hands and pull into two equal halves. Rotate the halves 90 degrees and, with jagged surfaces facing up, join the halves together at their base, again forming a single ball, being careful not to smooth the dough's uneven surface. Place the formed dough balls on the prepared baking sheets, jagged surface up, spacing them 2 1/2 inches apart.

Bake until the cookies are light golden brown and the outer edges start to harden yet the centers are still soft and puffy, 15-18 minutes, rotating the baking sheets from back to front and top to bottom halfway through. Cool the cookies on the sheets. Remove the cooled cookies from the baking sheets with a wide metal spatula.


  1. I'm always up for trying a new chocolate recipe, especially if it means enjoying the the world's best cookie. When Hungry Dog gives the thumbs up on anything baking-related, I know it's going to be great!

  2. How exciting! I don't have any tips since I've been to neither city, but I do have a request. Can I please come with you? I'll be very quiet and eat very little. Promise.

    No? Oh never mind, I'll just make cookies to console myself then :) Have loads of fun!

  3. Oh I'm so excited for you two!!! I have SO many recommendations! I'll have to send you an email soon!

  4. What an incredible trip that will be! If I could go back to Paris I would definitely check out Pierre Hermes. As for Spain...I can't wait to get there myself one day.

  5. ALY: I'm pretty confident you'll love them! They are always a hit.

    Shaz: I don't believe you when you say you'd eat very little in Paris and Barcelona... ;)

    Jessica: Send them all! I was going to email you separately anyway to get your recommendations.

    Connie: Oh yes, Pierre Hermes. mmm.

  6. Yeah, a European trip sounds fantastic, and April should be a great time to visit. My tips on not looking like a tourist: don't wear sneakers and carry a back pack. It's been awhile since I've been to those two cities, but I'll email you some classic food recommendations later!

  7. Yay! I'm excited for your trip, too! As for not looking like a tourist, sneakers are ok, as long as they're Converse All-Stars. Backpack is a definite no, as are fleece jackets. Really, though, the main thing is being comfortable in whatever you're wearing, and the attitude of not caring what other people think of what you're wearing. Also, it probably won't be warm enough for this to be an issue, but no shorts! Bring shoes in which you can comfortably walk at least a mile. That can't be stressed enough, especially for Barcelona, which might be composed of 75% staircases.

  8. You are going to have an amazing time. Last summer we cycled through the Loire Valley in France-it was utterly amazing. The food? You are going to think you died and went to heaven. Enjoy yourself. Eat!!! Walk!!!

  9. Sounds like an exciting trip. My goddaughter is studying in London right now and it's her first time ever away from home at all. She's having a blast and seeing everything she can while she's there. You're gonna have a wonderful time!

  10. barthelona! ole! i'm so jealous of your trip--have a blast! and really, any cookie on its way to my mouth is probably the world's best cookie at that instant. :)

  11. My daughter lived in Paris for 7 years so I got to know it well. She put together a list of Paris restaurants etc. for friends which we both send to people frequently. If you want me to forward it to you, email me. It's a Word document.
    I think someplace I have a Barcelona diary as well. So I may have some restaurant ideas there too...but not a detailed list like Paris.
    How exciting for you both!

  12. Ben: no problem, since I don't own sneakers OR a backpack!

    camille: I know--I hope to see you in Paris!

    Velva: your trip sounds amazing too...

    oneordinaryday: I hope so! (I know so)

    grace: good point.

    Barbara: I would love the list...I will email you.

  13. If you share some cookies with me, I'll share my travel tips for Barcelona (we were there last May) and also my travel books if you need them :). Let's meet up soon. I hope you are doing well.

  14. Sounds like a wonderful trip, so jealous. I've only been to Mexico and Iceland, so I have no travel tips for the likes of Europe.

    No sneakers? Really? What do wear when you walk in San Fran?

    Guess I will write this tip down if we ever make it to that neck of the woods.....

    And I'm going to try these cookies-I love cc the best :)

  15. ALY: Yes! I definitely want your travel tips!

    tamilyn: mexico and Iceland, that's not so bad. As for the no sneaker thing...yeah, just never liked how I look in them. I wear clogs or boots, they usually do the trick.