Tag Archives: great British baking show

The World’s Best Chocolate Chip Cookies

I’ll go ahead and warn you: This is one of those Let Me Tell You a Story posts where I type and type and type about something and then finally get to the recipe from the post title. So if you’re just here for the recipe? Click here.

It’s not a long story, though. I promise. Here goes.

The Great British Baking Show Bake-Along that I’ve been participating in on Facebook has started up again, and the first challenge is Regional Biscuits. The instructions are to make a dozen perfectly identical cookies that have a recognizably regional flavor and that have a personal meaning to the baker. I don’t know that there’s a regional cookie from my area, though, and I know I can’t get my Aunt Judy’s rugelach to look anything even close to identical (and possibly not even edible).

So I decided to go with the all-American chocolate chip cookie.

Fortunately for me, my friend April sent her chocolate chip cookie recipe out with her holiday cards this year. It was boldly titled “The World’s Best Chocolate Chip Cookies.” My first thought was “Oh, that’s a sweet idea,” and my second thought was, “Wow, April, that’s a pretty big flex. Let’s see what you’ve got.”

But it was Christmas and so I didn’t try it for a few weeks. I made my first batch last week, and I am happy to report that she was not overstating things. These are the best chocolate chip cookies I’ve ever made. They have a ridiculous chip-to-cookie ratio, and they’re somehow crisp and chewy all at the same time.

I’m not sure why I was surprised that they’re perfect, though. April is a scientist, and I’m positive this recipe went through lots of testing under rigorous conditions before she committed to it.

The World’s Best Chocolate Chip Cookies
courtesy of April Bauer

1 1/4 cups unsalted butter (10oz)
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar (8oz)
1 1/4 cup dark brown sugar (10oz)
2 eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla
3 cups bread flour, approximately 20oz
1 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
10 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips
10 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chunks
Maldon sea salt

Cream together butter and sugars. Beat in eggs one at a time until mixture is homogenous. Add vanilla.

Mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda and kosher salt.

Add flour mixture to the prepared butter/sugar mixture. Beat together until homogenous. Stir in the chocolate chips. (This takes some effort. Twenty ounces is a LOT of chocolate chips.)

Cover and chill dough at least 4 hours and up to 4 days.

When you’re ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Scoop tablespoon-sized balls of dough onto cookie sheet lined with parchment paper approximately 2 inches apart. Sprinkle each dough ball with a few crystals of Maldon sea salt flakes.

Bake until edges are golden brown, approximately 10 to 12 minutes. Cool completely, if you can stand the wait.

On your marks, get set. Bake!

A long, long time ago — all the way back in 2008 — I joined an online group called The Daring Bakers. Someone would post a baking challenge every month, and then members would attempt them and share their results. I think the first one I made was a caramel cake, and it was delicious. Others didn’t work out so well. (I’m looking at you, pao de queijo and savarin.) But some of them, like the buche de noel and the Momofuku crack pie, were delightful. And then there was the princessatorte and the Battenburg cake. We all have a hot mess or two in our history, and mine seem to involve various royal desserts.

The point is that I was baking weird, challenging things, and it was fun. Most of the time. Sometimes it just felt like a chore, and those chore-times started outnumbering the fun-times so I stopped doing it for awhile. When I wanted to start again, the Daring Bakers had disbanded.

I didn’t stop baking altogether, but I also didn’t push myself to embark upon new baking adventures. I missed the camaraderie — celebrating one another’s beautifully puffed puff pastry; commiserating over burnt caramel.

Then a few months ago something new popped up in my Facebook feed: Someone was starting a group dedicated to making food from “The Great British Baking Show.” I love that program as much as I love a good cake, even with the new hosts.

And so I signed up without hesitation.

Our first challenge was to make a “fruity cake.” Not a fruitcake in the holiday-brick-of-cake sense, but a sponge cake with fruit baked into it. I missed that note the first time around, and I made a chocolate sponge cake with whipped cream and fresh strawberries and nary a fruit inside the cake.

It did not go particularly well.

A sponge cake gets all of its lift from air that’s beaten into the eggs, so you’re supposed to sift the flour over the well-beaten eggs and fold, fold, fold just a wee bit at a time. Instead, I decided just to dump it all in and then fold, which resulted in clumps of cocoa in the mix. After that misstep was followed by too much time in the oven, I had myself a very flat sponge.

It was not a good bake.

I cut the burnt edges off as best as I could and sallied forth, because we are not one to waste cake. Rockford and Pete claim it was good despite all.

Not wanting to be defeated by a sponge cake, I regrouped and tried again. This time I used As Easy As Apple Pie’s Italian Sponge Cake, which turned out indeed to be even easier than apple pie, provided you follow the directions. I added blueberries, brushed it thoroughly with lemon syrup and topped it with coconut whipped cream and candied lemon peel, and I was very, very happy with it.

(Even though the coconut whipped cream didn’t whip quite as I wanted it to and the blueberries all sunk to the bottom, which ended up being the top.)

I’m looking forward to seeing what concoction the organizers order up next, and I’m very much hoping it’s not a Tudor Week challenge.