The Baketrix: Chocolate Chunk Cookies
Once upon a time I worked in a magical office in which all my coworkers liked to cook, bake, knit, and go to happy hour. And we all got along. This was the City of LA‘s public art program, and, despite the mountains of paperwork we had to sift through daily, I loved working there, and still dearly love the people I worked with.
One thing I miss the most is Pauline’s baked goods. She’s a sassy lady with a passion for butter cream and a knack for mastering anything whatsoever that may involve butter. I’ve dubbed her “the Baketrix,” and she’s agreed to get our heart-rate pumping with an occasional baking column.
Today I found myself at home playing “hookey” from work to enjoy a wonderful rainy and gray day in Southern California. But let me say in my defense, I did have a “Tom to the airport run” in the middle of the day, which would have messed up my workday, really!
So to assuage my guilt from this “extra day off,” I promised myself to be productive…so with NPR in the background and talk about the upcoming elections, I got busy with making my favorite chocolate chunk cookies. Perfect for rainy day comfort cookies. There’s something so tranquil about being home while it’s gloomy out, the oven radiating warmth and the smell of butter, sugar, and chocolate bathes you in a sweet, sweet perfume! Breath deep, hold, exhale, and do again.
There is nothing better than “buttah” is my mantra when it comes to baking. Now I will consciously make healthier choices and swap ingredients out, but I will not, not ever, sacrifice the taste and richness of butter. Butter is sacrosanct! As I do looooove to bake, I am conscious about using what I call “healthier choices” and I swap out all-purpose flour for Whole Wheat Flour, granulated sugar for Turbinado or evaporated cane sugar, and I’ll often add flax seeds for added moisture–plus it’s good for you.
“Healthier Choice” Chocolate Chunk Cookies
adapted from Baking at Home with the Culinary Institute of America, 2004
2 1/2 c. all-purpose flour (I use whole wheat flour)
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1 c. (2 sticks) unsalted butter/room temp (I cheat at times and defrost in the microwave = I never said I was a purist when baking!)
1 c. granulated sugar (I use only 1/2 c. and turbinado or evaporated cane)
3/4 c. brown sugar, lightly packed (no skimping on this as I love the flavor the brown sugar gives the cookies)
2 large eggs at room temp
1 tsp. vanilla (use the good stuff, not the imitation)
2 c. bittersweet chocolate chips/chunks (I like to use Trader Joe’s Belguim 72% dark chocolate pound plus bar – use 5 of the 8 rows to chop up for super chunky goodness)
1/4 c. flax seed meal, optional
Preheat oven to 375 degrees
Cream the butter and the sugars together on medium speed until light in texture and smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time and the vanilla extract, blend or mix until incorporated. I like to use a wooden spoon to do all this.
Dry Ingredients: I use a large meshed strainer to shift directly onto the creamed mixture OR you can pre-sift all the dry ingredients (flour, baking soda and salt) in a separate bowl and set aside…but why, when you can use just one bowl and it saves you time during clean up!
Mix the dry ingredients and the creamed ingredients together – it will be a tough going to mix so I take off my rings, roll up my sleeves and dive my hands into the batter and squish everything together til it forms a delicious dough. But wait, we are not done, add the chocolate chunks and your optional ingredients and mix again til it’s all incorporated. Now you’re ready to drop the dough onto the cookie sheet by using two serving spoons, space them out about 2 inches.
Bake for about 14 minutes, halfway through turn the sheet. Transfer to cooling rack and let cool completely…yeah right, who can wait, I grab them while they are hot and let the chocolate ooze in my mouth = so yummy!
I usually bake only one cookie sheet or 9 cookies. The rest of the dough gets divided into logs, wrapped in plastic wrap and goes in the freezer for emergency cookie needs which is often here at my place. Also great to be able to bake up chocolate cookies when friends come over – who doesn’t like a home baked cookie? I believe I’ve had one frozen log for about a month in the freezer and it baked up just fine!
For extra enjoyment, try making a super thick cup of hot cocoa (add way more cocoa than directed to get it thick) and add some cayenne to it for a nice kick. oh, that’s comfort right there