The Chocolate Chip Cookie

Jacques Torres Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe
Photo by Marta Bartolomei Edmonds.
Ever since Jacques Torres opened up a little shop at the Chelsea Market I seem to be finding many excuses to go to the Chelsea Market. The other day it was cold so I stopped at the market to warm up. I just happened to enter by the side entrance on 15th Street that gave me direct access to Jacques Torres and I thought “what better way to warm up than a hot chocolate?” So I ordered one, and since I was already there, I said “I might as well take one chocolate chip cookie to go!”
The chocolate chip cookies at Jacques Torres are decadent and chewy with layers of bittersweet chocolate that are held together by a sweet but sparse dough. They beat the almost perfect City Bakery / Birdbath chocolate chip cookies, which have been at the top of my chocolate chip cookie list for many years.
I love a homemade chocolate chip cookie. The recipe in the back of the Nestle Toll House chocolate chip package has been loved by many, including me, and has been my preferred recipe for many years. These are delicious right out of the oven, but this recipe usually falls short after the cookies have cooled down. And after you’ve tried an exceptional chocolate chip cookie like those served at Jacques Torres, you realize that you’ve been missing out on a truly great chocolate chip cookie recipe.
So I did some research to find a recipe for a chocolate chip cookie that remains rich, buttery and chewy at room temperature and has lots of really great chocolate. I tested a number of recipes like this one that gets it’s inspiration in from the City Bakery’s chocolate chip cookie. I studied Alton Brown’s show on chocolate chip cookies (part 1 and part 2) and tested his chewy variation. These were good, but I was still not satisfied. So I resorted to one of my favorite sources of great dessert recipes on the web, Dorie Greenspan’s blog, and found an entry referencing David Leite’s New York Times article with his chocolate chip cookie recipe.
The secrets to this recipe are:

  • letting the dough stand for 24 to 36 hours
  • sprinkling the cookies with coarse salt
  • using bittersweet chocolate disks instead of chips

Of all the chocolate chip cookie recipes I tried, this one is a winner. And guess what? It was adapted from Jacques Torres’ chocolate chip cookie recipe!

Photo by Marta Bartolomei Edmonds.
Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from Jacques Torres
2 cups minus 2 tablespoons (8 1/2 ounces) cake flour
1 2/3 cups (8 1/2 ounces) bread flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) light brown sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (8 ounces) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract
1 1/4 pounds bittersweet chocolate disks or fèves, at least 60 percent cacao content
Sea salt
1. Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Set aside.
2. Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars together until very light, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. Reduce speed to low, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds. Drop chocolate pieces in and incorporate them without breaking them. Press plastic wrap against dough and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours. Dough may be used in batches, and can be refrigerated for up to 72 hours.
3. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Set aside.
4. Scoop 6 3 1/2-ounce mounds of dough (the size of generous golf balls) onto baking sheet, making sure to turn horizontally any chocolate pieces that are poking up; it will make for a more attractive cookie. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and bake until golden brown but still soft, 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer sheet to a wire rack for 10 minutes, then slip cookies onto another rack to cool a bit more. Repeat with remaining dough, or reserve dough, refrigerated, for baking remaining batches the next day. Eat warm, with a big napkin.
Yields 1 1/2 dozen 5-inch cookies.

Crispy Brown Rice Treats

Crispy Brown Rice Treats Recipe - Wheat Free and Sugar Free Recipe
Plate by Roger Baumann. Photo by Marta Bartolomei Edmonds.
These wholesome bars have been a favorite in our home for the past fifteen years. Crispy brown rice treats are a healthier version of the Rice Krispies Treats you might have grown up with. We got rid of the marshmallow and butter and replaced it with toasted almond butter and the gentle sweetness of brown rice syrup. For fun, we’ve also added some carob chips. These bars are well balanced and lightly sweet, making them a healthy snack any time of the day. What’s best is that they are super easy to make.
Crispy Brown Rice Treats
1/2 cup brown rice syrup*
1/2 cup almond butter*
2 cups crispy brown rice*
1 cup carob chips (optional)*
1 teaspoon vanilla
oil for greasing
1. Oil a 9″ x 13″ pan and set aside. In a large bowl, combine the brown rice syrup, almond butter and vanilla. Add the Rice Crispies and carob chips and fold into the brown rice syrup mixture.
2. Pour the rice crispy mixture into the oiled pan . Rub a little oil in your hands and press down firmly to flatten the mixture. Cut into 1.5″ squares and enjoy.
Makes 48 bars
*Visit your local health food store for these ingredients.

Chocolate Ginger Crackles

Chocolate Ginger Crackle Cookie Recipe
Photo by Marta Bartolomei Edmonds.
These are a favorite holiday cookie in our household, so well liked that, when I make them, Angelica spontaneously gives me a hug. Not that I bake to win people’s affection, but getting a spontaneous hug from my teenage daughter is all the encouragement I need to make these cookies.
Chocolate ginger crackles are little mounds of moist chocolate cookie studded with bittersweet chocolate chips and candied ginger pieces and covered in powdered sugar. They are delightfully easy to make. The dough can be made ahead of time and refrigerated for a few days until ready to bake. They can be stored in an airtight container for up to three days.
This recipe first appeared in Food and Wine magazine, October 1997.
Chocolate Ginger Crackles
1 cup granulated sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and slightly cooled
2 large eggs
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of salt
1/2 cup bittersweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup minced candied ginger
1/2 cup confectioner’s sugar
1. In a bowl, using an electric mixer, beat the granulated sugar with the butter. Mix in the eggs, then add the cocoa and vanilla; beat at medium speed until smooth and creamy. Scrape down the bowl and add the flour, baking powder and salt. Mix the dough for 2 minutes. Stir in the chocolate chips and ginger. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours or overnight.
2. Preheat the oven to 350°. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or foil. Form the dough into 1 inch balls and coat them generously with the confectioner’s sugar. Arrange the balls 1 inch apart on the prepared baking sheets. Bake for about 12 minutes, or until the tops look cracked. Transfer to wire racks to cool.
You can store these in an airtight container for up to three days.
Makes 30 cookies.

Pumpkin Cookie with Penuche Icing

Pumpkin Penuche Cookies, a fall favorite
Photo by Marta Bartolomei Edmonds.
I love the fall because it gives us pumpkin at it’s best. It’s an incredibly versatile vegetable that is particularly good in baked goods. Baking pumpkin cookies is a fall tradition in our family. This particular recipe has been in our family for over ten years. It yields a moist, cakey cookie that is not too sweet. The penuche filling is a sweet, caramel flavored surprise.

Pumpkin Sandwich Cookie with Penuche Icing
1 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1 cup pumpkin puree
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon allspice
1/4 teaspoon cloves
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons butter
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
1/4 cup milk
1 cup confectioner’s sugar
Makes 60 cookies.
1. Pre-heat oven to 350°F. In a small bowl whisk together the dry ingredients and set aside. In a standing mixer beat butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add pumpkin, vanilla and egg until they are fully incorporated. Add flour mixture until just combined. Drop dough by tablespoon 1 inch apart onto a parchment paper lined cookie sheets.
2. Bake at 350°F for 10 to 12 minutes or until light golden brown around edges. Immediately remove from cookie sheets and cool completely.
3. While the cookies are cooling, make the icing. In a medium saucepan, melt 3 tablespoons butter and 1/2 cup brown sugar over medium heat and bring to a boil. Once it starts bubbling, cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Add milk carefully and stir until the caramel is disolved. Beat in enough powdered sugar for desired spreading consistency. Ice cookies, working quickly as the icing will crystalize as it cools.

Mexican Wedding Cakes

Mexican Wedding Cake Walnut Cookie Recipe
Plate by Roger Baumann. Photo by Marta Bartolomei Edmonds
Very little in our wedding was what anyone would expect. We celebrated our wedding on a Thursday, there were hand-painted panels of canvas hanging around the room, rocks and branches decorated each table, and our parents were seated in the table farthest away from the area where the ceremony was to take place. Scott and I ate with each guest by having a few bites of food at each table and moving on to the next. I’m sure our guests were a little puzzled, but it was a perfect day for us.
Then, there was the cake. Our wedding cake was not cake at all, it was made out of cookies: Mexican Wedding Cakes.
On the morning of our wedding day, my father and stepmother, Carolina (who did not know we were serving cookies instead of cake) gave us a beautiful engraved wedding cake knife as a present. When it came time to cut the cake, we walked over to a tall tower of Mexican Wedding Cakes. I reached for the wedding cake knife and tried to lift one of the cakes from the tower. Well, the cookies were essentially glued together with thick wads of royal icing and we had to resort to more aggressive methods of cutting the cake. The cake knife came in handy to saw through the royal icing and pry the cookies away from our impenetrable tower.
Our wedding day was flavored by these walnut buttery mounds of melt in your mouth goodness. I would not change a thing. Mexican Wedding Cakes make me smile. This easy recipe comes from Food and Wine Magazine.
Mexican Wedding Cakes
4 tablespoons butter, softened
2 tablespoons pecans, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
3/4 cup confectioners sugar
1/2 cup flour
pinch of salt
1. In a medium bowl, beat the butter, pecans and vanilla until creamy. Slowly add 1/3 cup of the confectioners’ sugar, flour and salt and mix well. Shape the dough into a log and wrap in plastic and refrigerate until chilled, at least 1 hour or overnight.
2. Preheat the oven to 350° and line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper. Slice the dough and roll each piece of dough into a 3/4 -inch ball. Arrange about 1 inch apart on the cookie sheet. Bake for 15 minutes, or until lightly golden. Cool for 5 minutes.
3. In a large bowl, gently toss the warm cookies in the remaining confectioners’ sugar and set aside to cool completely.
Makes 16 cookies.

For My Lover: Chocolate-Dipped Florentine Shortbread

Pierre Herme Chocolate Dipped Florentine Shortbread Recipe
Photo by Marta Bartolomei Edmonds.
Scott loves these. For a man who has always proclaimed “not being crazy about sweets”, this is a huge statement. I made these cookies for the first time this weekend and they were gone in two days. Throughout the day I would hear the sound of the cookie jar’s lid being gently placed back on the cookie jar. By the second day the jar was empty.
So, it is me who is giving chocolates to Scott this year, not the other way around. I am making another batch of these caramelly shortbreads laced with bittersweet chocolate.
These cookies are time intensive. Give yourself about two hours to prepare them. Also, if you are like me and don’t have a candy thermometer, use this method: 1. fill a small glass jar with iced water, 2. place a few drops of the caramel in the ice water, 3. retrieve the caramel with a spoon and form a small ball. If the ball holds its shape, it has reached hard ball stage (255 degrees), if the ball flattens, cook the mixture a few minutes longer and test again.
This recipe was crafted by Pierre Hermé and can be found in Food and Wine. Read more about Pierre Hermé here.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
Chocolate-Dipped Florentine Shortbread
1 1/2 sticks (6 ounces) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch dice and chilled
6 tablespoons sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 cup heavy cream
Finely grated zest of 1 orange
1 cup plus 3 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1/3 cup water
1/2 cup chestnut honey
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter
3 cups sliced blanched almonds ( 3/4 pound)
2/3 cup finely diced candied orange rind ( 1/4 pound)
3/4 pound bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
1. MAKE THE PASTRY: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter the bottom and sides of an 11-by-17-inch rimmed baking sheet. Line the bottom with parchment paper, leaving about 1 inch overhanging at the short ends. Butter the parchment.
2. In a food processor, pulse the diced butter with the sugar and the salt 6 times. Add the flour and process until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Spread the crumbs on the baking sheet and press them into a thin, even layer with floured hands. Prick the dough all over with a fork.
3. Refrigerate for 10 minutes, or until firm. Bake in the middle of the oven for 15 minutes, or until lightly browned. Transfer the baking sheet to a wire rack. Increase the oven temperature to 425 degrees.
4. MEANWHILE, MAKE THE TOPPING: In a small saucepan, heat the cream with the orange zest over moderate heat just until bubbles appear around the edge, about 5 minutes.
5. In a heavy medium saucepan, combine the sugar with the corn syrup and water and bring to a boil over moderately high heat, stirring just until the sugar dissolves. Cook the syrup over moderately high heat, swirling the pan occasionally, until a medium amber caramel forms, about 5 minutes.
6. Remove from the heat. Add the honey, the infused cream and the butter and stir until the butter melts. Cook the caramel topping over moderately high heat until a candy thermometer registers 255 degrees (hard ball stage), about 4 minutes.
7. Stir in the almonds and candied orange rind and immediately spread the caramel over the pastry with a wooden spoon.
8. Return the baking sheet to the oven and bake the pastry for 10 minutes, or until the topping is bubbling. Transfer the baking sheet to a rack and let cool for 30 minutes.
9. Run a knife around the edge of the baking sheet to loosen the pastry and slide the parchment paper onto a work surface. Using a sharp, heavy knife, cut the pastry into 2 1/2-inch strips. Cut the strips into 2 1/2-by-3-inch rectangles. Cut each rectangle diagonally in half.
10. Line 2 large baking sheets with wax paper. Melt two-thirds of the chocolate in a bowl in a microwave oven for about 1 minute. Add the remaining chocolate and stir until completely melted. Dip 1 corner of each cookie into the chocolate and transfer it to the prepared baking sheets. Refrigerate until the chocolate is just set, about 5 minutes.
Makes 4 dozen cookies.

Triple Chocolate Cookies

Angelica grew up around the kitchen. As a toddler she would empty all my cupboards of containers, pots and pans to play while I cooked. As a little girl I would pull up a chair and she would stand on it to help me measure, stir and taste when we made cookies. As she got older, she would read recipes and follow along with me as her assistant. Now, as a teenager we gather around the kitchen much too seldom, but once in a while we get together to honor this mother-daughter tradition. Yesterday we took the afternoon to make cookies. It was great. And the cookies were pretty good too!
This triple chocolate cookie recipe from epicurious is originally for ice cream sandwiches, but these delicacies are wonderful with or without ice cream. Using good bittersweet chocolate such as Callebaut gives these cookies a densely chocolaty bite. Not too sweet and super soft and chewy. They are delicate and dense like a fluffy version of a brownie. I could not ask for a better chocolate cookie.
Triple Chocolate Cookies
10 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 cup plus 2 teaspoons all purpose flour
3 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
3 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
6 ounces (1 cup) semisweet chocolate chips
1. Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Line 2 large rimmed baking sheets with parchment paper. Stir chopped chocolate in top of double boiler set over simmering water until melted and smooth; remove from over water. Cool melted chocolate 10 minutes.
2. Meanwhile, sift flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt into medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat sugar and butter in another medium bowl until crumbly. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Continue to beat until mixture is light, pale, and creamy, about 5 minutes. Add lukewarm melted chocolate and vanilla and beat just until blended. Fold in dry ingredients, then chocolate chips.
3. Drop chocolate cookie batter by tablespoonfuls onto prepared baking sheets, spacing 1 inch apart. Bake cookies, 1 baking sheet at a time, until tops are evenly cracked but cookies are not yet firm to touch, about 10 minutes. Cool cookies completely.
Note: Store cookies in an airtight container for up to 3 days or freeze for up to two weeks (if they last that long!)
Makes 36 cookies.

Almond Macaroons

The first almond macaroons I tried were ones made by a wonderful bakery right off of the BART Rockridge station in Oakland, CA. If memory serves me correctly, it was called Grace Bakery, now a wholesale bread provider (no longer at their original location). At the time, I was a new student at CCAC and these chewy, golden delicacies, topped with thinly sliced almonds became one of my favorite treats. I would purchase a little stash of almond macaroons to take home and my mom and I would eat them all before the day was over.
Chandra Morris, from Bozeman, MT, shared this recipe with me many years ago. It makes a cookie that has a wonderful outer shell with a chewy, light interior and an intense almond aroma. The trick to the nice crust on this cookie is letting them sit out for at least 30 minutes.
Almond Macaroons
1/2 pound almond paste
1 cup granulated sugar
3 egg whites at room temperature
1/3 cup confectioners’ sugar
2 tablespoons cake flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Cover cookie sheets with parchment paper. Using your hands or a food processor, soften the almond paste. Gradually blend in the granulated sugar and egg whites. Mix in the confectioners’ sugar, flour and salt.
2. Force the dough through a cookie press or drop by teaspoonfuls onto the parchment paper covered cookie sheets. Cover and let stand 30 minutes.
3. Bake 25 minutes, until golden. Lay the paper linings on a damp cloth, let cool, and peel off the macaroons. Cool the cookies completely and store in an airtight container. They will keep fresh for up to 5 days.
Makes 60 small cookies.