If you don’t watch FoodTV Network, you may think this is my own statement. Not the case. Best Thing I Ever Made is one of the shows I continue to tape, hoping that at some point they will air new episodes. Unfortunately, not much luck in the past year or so. What I love about it is that they ask chefs to share their recipes for the best thing they ever made in a certain category, like Family Recipes, Crowd Pleasers, Cheese, or this particular episode, Sweet Endings. I didn’t know Elizabeth Falkner, but was immediately smitten by her smile, energy and aura. Instead of a super complicated recipe that required you to find beet sugar smoked on the hills of Himalaya, hers was one of the simplest formulas ever. It’s a lot more about technique than anything else.
(recipe from Elizabeth Falkner)
8 tablespoons (4 ounces) butter, softened but still cool
3/4 cup (6 1/4 ounces) firmly packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon (4 ounces) granulated sugar
1 large egg (1 1/2 ounces by weight)
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 1/4 cups plus 3 tablespoons (7 ounces) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped the size of chocolate chips, or bittersweet chocolate chips (about 1 1/2 cups)
3/4 cup (3 ounces) chopped walnuts, optional
In a large bowl, using a wooden spoon, cream together the butter and brown and granulated sugars until smooth but not over mixed. (I do this by hand, but if you use a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or a handheld mixer, beat on medium speed for 1 to 2 minutes, and then scrape down the sides of the bowl before continuing.) Add the egg, vanilla and salt and stir just until combined.
Sift in the flour, baking soda and baking powder and stir gently just until combined. Add the chocolate and nuts if using and stir just until evenly distributed throughout the dough. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes or overnight.
Position the racks in the upper third and lower third of the oven and heat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
Scoop up 1-inch balls of the dough with a spoon or mini scoop and set them 2 inches apart on the prepared pans. Bake the cookies, rotating the pans after 7 to 9 minutes, for 13 to 17 minutes until the cookies are golden brown. If you like a very soft cookie, bake them for 13 minutes. If you like a crisp cookie, bake them for 17 minutes. Transfer to racks and let cool.
Comments: I always make cookie dough using my Kitchen Aid mixer, but watching Elizabeth mix hers by hand using just a fork seemed like so much fun, I gave it a try. It was not as hard as I anticipated, and made it easier to judge when the butter and the sugar were properly mixed together. Two things are important in this recipe: cutting the chocolate in uneven sizes, and refrigerating the dough, the longer the better, overnight is perfect. The larger chunks of chocolate will melt in your mouth in a way that no chocolate chip will do. Of course, use the best chocolate you can find and afford.
I made the cookie dough after dinner, left it in the fridge until lunch time next morning, baked the cookies and took them to our department still warm from the oven. They were inhaled quite quickly, which I think is a nice compliment to Ms. Faulkner… ;-)
Trader Joe’s Bittersweet Chocolate: $6.50
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