By John Linderman
Elm Staff Writer
One way to challenge yourself is to improve in areas which you’ve struggled with in the past. As a self-professed greenhorn cookie baker, I knew the path I had to take.
Baking cookies is a delicate but flexible art, like skydiving. There are no objectively perfect cookies, but there is a whole culture of common practices which can be followed, critiqued, or modified.
Some say cookies shouldn’t have the density of a scone. Those people have never known the beauty of a robust cookie. This article will cover how to bake thick, chewy, rustic farmhouse-looking cookies. These cookies are based off of the recipe that the Levain Bakery in Manhattan famously uses. Just one cookie can be split between two people and can be quite satisfying because of their size.
To start, here is what you’ll need:
- 1.5 cups of cake flour
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1.5 teaspoons of kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons of corn starch
- ½ teaspoon of baking soda
- 1.25 cups of unsalted butter
- 1.25 cups of brown sugar
- ½ cup of white, granulated sugar
- 2 eggs
- 3 egg yolks
- 1lb of rough-cut chocolate
- Optional addition of nuts, oats, raisins, etc.
Start by rough-cutting the chocolate bars. Use a darker chocolate, between 50% and 80% cacao. Take a knife and start cutting them up into uneven blocks, bits, and remaining dusts. These will form jagged, gooey chocolate cores in the final product.
Flour, like many other resources, is now in short stock in supermarkets across the nation. However, it does matter what kind of flour you use; cake flour, for example, has a much lower protein content than all-purpose and adds a softer texture to the final product. If you substitute all-purpose for cake, expect your cooking time to be longer and result in a slightly tougher cookie. Feel free to even use bread flour, which gives you a robust scone-like cookie, tougher than the former two.
All the flour, salt, corn starch, and baking soda can be mixed and whisked together in the same bowl.
Meanwhile, one hack to upgrade your cookie game is to brown your butter. For this, you should bring your butter to a melt over medium heat and wait for the milkfat to dissolve. This removes excess water from your butter and leaves you with a richer taste that will show up in your cookies. Once the melted butter starts turning brown (but not smoking) remove it from the heat and let it cool.
In a stand mixer, combine the brown and white sugar together. With a whisk attachment, turn on the mixer to medium speed, and slowly add in your cooled butter.. Once that is incorporated, add your eggs and egg yolks one at a time. If you do not have a stand mixer, mix your ingredients as best you can in a bowl using a whisk. If you’re interested in vegan substitutes, consider aquafaba or bananas to add constitution to your cookies.
Once those have been incorporated, slowly add your flour mixture with a paddle attachment, using about ¼ cup at a time. Adding too much flour at once will give you too much gluten development at once, so be gentle. Once these dry ingredients are mixed, drop in your rough-cut chocolate, as well as any additives you enjoy like nuts or oats. The original Levain recipe adds chocolate and walnuts but be an individual and strike your own path.
Now with everything together, pack your cookies in a bowl covered with any kind of wrap, and leave it in the fridge for at least 45 minutes. Letting your cookies freeze and rest will enhance your flavor profile.
Also, please know the CDC has officially issued to the American public to avoid eating raw cookie dough. Raw eggs can contain salmonella, and exposure to raw flour can trigger gluten intolerances if improperly handled. If you use neither of these two ingredients though, ignore this.
After sitting in the fridge for a while, you can set your oven for 425 degrees Fahrenheit and place your cookie balls on a parchment paper-layered sheet for 10 to 13 minutes. Each cookie ball should weigh six ounces and be given a liberal amount of room on the sheet.
Let them sit on a wire rack so there will be an even amount of air to cool them. If you’re feeling extra boujie, add flakey salt to highlight the sweeter flavors of the cookie. Once they cool and harden, you’re finished. These make a great breakfast or late-night snack.