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Friday, March 1, 2019

Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies (with altitude adjustments)

Betsy and I went through a couple of weeks of concentrated chocolate chip cookie baking last December when she gave a presentation on high altitude baking. This is my current favorite recipe; plus these cookies already have a history.

During the holiday season, Betsy had to do without a refrigerator and freezer for a few weeks. I mailed Betsy a couple dozen cookies without high altitude adjustment so attendees could compare them to modified cookies. To protect their freshness they needed to be stored frozen but with no space at home Betsy used the freezer at the church right next door. This was a mistake because the bulk of the cookies disappeared before Betsy's presentation. Happy holidays for someone! I imagine the cookies tasted so good to the 'testers' that they couldn't stop at just one. These are hard to resist!


Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies (with altitude adjustments)    

Yield: 16 large cookies

Changes needed for altitudes of 4000-5500 feet above sea level:

add 1 T flour
reduce baking soda to 1/4 teas
reduce granulated sugar by 1 T

1 3/4 c flour
1/2 teas baking soda
14 T unsalted butter (1 3/4 sticks)
1/2 c sugar
3/4 c packed dark brown sugar
1 teas table salt
2 teas vanilla
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 1/4 c semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 c chopped and toasted pecans or walnuts, optional

Preheat the oven to 375F with the rack in the middle position. Place parchment paper on 2 baking sheets (18X12). (You may use smaller sheets but will need to bake in more batches.)

In a medium bowl, mix the flour and soda together and set aside.

In a 10-inch skillet (avoid non-stick since it makes it hard to monitor browning) heat 10 tablespoons of butter until melted. Swirling the pan constantly, continue to cook until the butter has browned to a dark golden brown color with a nutty smell. Remove from the heat and using a heat resistant rubber spatula, place the browned butter into a large bowl. Stir the remaining butter into the melted butter and stir it until it has melted completely.

To the bowl containing the butter, add both sugars, salt, and vanilla. Stir until well mixed. Add the egg and yolk and whisk until there are no sugar lumps visible. Allow this mixture to stand for 3 minutes, then whisk it for 30 seconds. Repeat the process of resting and whisking twice more until the mixture is glossy, smooth, and thick. (Don't skip this step; it will allow more of the sugar to dissolve before mixing other ingredients in which improves flavor and texture.)

Stir the flour mixture into the sugar mixture using a rubber spatula or wooden spoon just until combined. Add the chocolate chips and nuts (if using) stirring just enough to ensure they are evenly distributed in the dough. This should also ensure no pockets of flour remain.

Divide the dough using a #24 cookie scoop, if you have one, or into portions of about 3 tablespoons (try a scant quarter cup). Place them on the baking sheets, 8 balls per sheet. Bake one sheet at a time for about 10-14 minutes (it's easy to misjudge cooking times with two in the oven and end up with some overcooked cookies).

You may make these smaller if you wish but modify the cooking time.

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