People have very strong feelings about what a chocolate chip cookie should be. I spent every day for two and a half years figuring out what I thought it should be. Some cookies were just too thin, some were too cakey, and others were just, well, not good enough. For me, the best cookie is chewy, crispy, and crunchy, with ample chocolate in every bite. I start with two kinds of flour: low-protein pastry flour, which makes the cookie tender, and bread flour, which gives the cookie structure.
We sell thousands of these cookies every week at Willa Jean, so I think I might be onto something.
I use a triple hit of Valrhona chocolate here: Guanaja (70% cacao), Caramélia (36%), and Dulcey (32%). Caramélia and Dulcey have pre- caramelized sugars that mimic the flavor of that brown sugar crust you get on a good cookie. Mass-produced chocolate chips are made to hold their shape (not melt) in the oven. That processing directly changes the flavor and mouthfeel of the chocolate. Valrhona isn’t processed that way, so the chocolate melts into doughs and batters just the right way, causing a caramelizing effect that is 100 percent irresistible.
- Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, whisk together the pastry flour and bread flour with the baking powder and baking soda.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or in a large bowl using a handheld mixer, cream the butter on medium-high speed until smooth, about 30 seconds. Add the brown sugar, granulated sugar, and salt and beat on medium-low speed until light and fluffy, about 1 minute. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula. Return the mixer to low speed and beat in the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Beat in the vanilla. Beat in the dry ingredients in three portions, scraping down the sides of the bowl after each addition. With the mixer on low speed, beat in the chocolate until just combined.
- Using a 11⁄2-ounce ice cream scoop (about 3 tablespoons), scoop slightly rounded 2-inch mounds of dough onto the prepared baking sheet, leaving a tiny bit of space between each cookie. Transfer the baking sheet to the freezer and freeze for at least 24 hours. Once frozen, the balls of dough can be transferred to resealable bags.
- Preheat the oven to 325°F. Line three baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone liners. Transfer the frozen dough balls to the prepared baking sheets, spacing them 2 inches apart; you should have two rows of four cookies per sheet. Sprinkle with the sea salt and bake for 22 minutes, rotating the baking sheets after 11 minutes, until lightly browned.
- Transfer the cookies to a wire rack to cool. The cookies can be kept in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.
Reprinted with permission from The Good Book of Southern Baking by Kelly Fields with Kate Heddings, copyright (c) 2020. Published by Lorena Jones Books, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC. Photographs copyright © Oriana Koren