Thursday, August 30, 2012

Thin and crispy chocolate chip cookies

Who out there knows a salty person?

No, I'm not using salty in place of other words like grumpy or mean.  This is a happy place, people :)   I'm talking about someone who craves salty foods over sweet almost always.

We've all heard someone say unfathomable (at least to me) things like, "Nah, I'll pass on the brownies in the break room."  I have a coworker with such willpower, and she's earned the punishment privilege of being home to the candy dish.  She can resist Reese's Pieces and almond M&Ms like a champ.  At times, I'm downright envious.  But, put a bag of ranch sunflower seeds or salt and vinegar popcorn in front of her and it's a wrap.  It's her kryptonite, and it makes her human, and I love it.

For me, it's no surprise that sweets have the snacking lobe of my brain and stomach monopolized, though the kind of sugary desserts that catch my eye definitely change day to day.  Sometimes I want smooth and creamy birthday cake ice cream.  Other days, it's a big hunk of dark chocolate or a zippy York Peppermint Patty.  And, like clockwork, every summer my cravings for sour cherries reach a peak and I must do something about it.

But, sometimes, something wacky happens.  The universe hiccups, and I suddenly want salty and sweet at the same time.

I'm not talking a handful of Veggie Straws (seriously the most addictive snack in the world) and then a few Hershey's kisses.  I'm talking salt on top of sweet.  Literally.  Like a caramel with sea salt.

Or homemade thin and crisp chocolate chip cookies with sea salt.  Yes, please!

A few years ago, I shared the recipe for the most chewy chocolate chip cookie in the land.  For some folks like Matt, a chocolate chip cookie should be soft and chewy, almost doughy.  I once thought I was one of them.  Until aforementioned craving hit, that is.

I wanted chocolate chip cookies, bad, but with lots of crunch.  I wanted them to be crisp and downright snappy.  I wanted a cookie that was so thin that every morsel of chocolate would be obvious, looking like it were about to break through the surface.  I wanted cookies so thin that I could stack five or six on a plate and feel happy about indulging in every last one.

And with this recipe, you better believe this girl got what she wanted and then some.  These were definitely the most satisfying chocolate chip cookie I've ever eaten.  That major crunch made each bite last extra long.  I don't know about you, but I'm the kind of person who will always be more satisfied by a snack that requires lots chewing and has an audible crunch with each bite.

I mean, just look at that chocolate!  This isn't the average chocolate studded cookie.  It's practically a chocolate filled cookie.  There are oodles of chocolate chunks of all sizes and that magical chocolate dust I've come to love.  All topped with coarse granules of sea salt on top to create the perfect harmony between sweet and savory but still mostly sweet.

New to chocolate dust?  Just chop up a bunch of chocolate, and look at what you've got: big solid pieces as well as piles of super fine chocolate.  Many recipes might instruct you to discard the chocolate dust and use the chunks, but not this one.  I'm telling you to scoop up every last spoonful of the valuable stuff and add it all to the batter.

Trust me.  I've got this one.

And this cookie's got it, too.  It being the staying power to hold up to dunk after dunk... after dunk... into a glass of cold milk.  There's no crumbling or breaking or soggy cookie here.  Still crunchy even after the milk.  It's a cookie miracle!

So many cookies.  So much milk.  So much time.  So much happiness! 

One year ago: Bacon-wrapped potato wedges
Two years ago: Herbed squash and potato gratin; Slow cooker shrimp creole

Thin & Crisp Chocolate Chip Cookies with Sea Salt
(slightly adapted from the recipe in Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook)
-makes about 36 cookies

A few notes: The sea salt on top is totally optional, but I'm almost begging you to try it, at least on a few for an initial taste test.  The crunch of the salt pairs so well with the thin and snappy cookie... it's out of this world!

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 large whole egg plus 1 large egg white
12-14 ounces good milk chocolate, chopped (including the chocolate "dust")
Coarse sea salt, for sprinkling, optional

Preheat oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit with rack positioned in the middle of the oven.  Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.  In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt; set aside.

In large bowl of electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, mix the butter and both sugars on medium high speed until light and fluffy, about 3 to 4 minutes, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.  Add vanilla, egg and egg white, and beat on low speed until combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.  Add flour mixture in two batches, mixing until just combined.  Mix in chocolate chunks and chocolate "dust."

Shape 2 tablespoons of dough, or 1 scoop of a small cookie/ice cream scoop, at a time into balls and place about 1 1/2 inches apart (they will spread!) on prepared baking sheets.  Sprinkle each cookie dough round with a pinch of sea salt.  Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until cookies are golden brown, about 16-18 minutes.  Transfer parchment and cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.  Cookies can be kept in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.

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