Growing up, our mom's specialty in the kitchen was chocolate chip cookies (oh, and pumpkin bread!). We used the recipe on the back of the Tollhouse chocolate chip bags, which I've heard is a very popular one. The end result was a jar full of thin, slightly crispy cookies (and stomach aches from eating too much raw dough). These cookies have always been my favorite- both in flavor/texture and in the comforts of childhood memories they provide. But recently, they've seen some major competition. During J's frequent trips to Boston, she began raving about "Hao's cookies." Apparently, her boyfriend's roommate was quite the cook. I was a little skeptical-- some young Asian guy makes better chocolate chip cookies than my mom? Eventually, I was lucky enough to be gifted a cookie that somehow made it through the trip back to Philly (surprising, since they apparently don't last long), and became an instant convert.
As we planned our recent trip to Beantown, I practically begged that we include learning the magical recipe in our itinerary. I was lucky enough to be granted my wish, and now I feel obligated to share it with you!
For Hao's cookies, you will need:
(No. Seriously. Go to the store right now.)
2 sticks butter (1 c.)
1 scant c. white sugar
1/3 c. light brown sugar
1/3 c. dark brown sugar
2ish c. all purpose flour
3/4 tsp. salt
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1.5 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 bag (5 oz) milk chocolate chips (preferred: Ghiradelli)
1/2 bag (5 oz) dark chocolate chips (preferred: large chips or chunks)
First step: melt the butter. We would typically do this in the microwave, but the recipe master insisted on doing it stovetop, and we don't want to mess with a good thing. Once it's fully melted, remove from heat.
In a large bowl, combine all three of your sugar varieties. If any chunks exist in the brown sugar, make sure to break them up. Then, add the flour, the salt, and the baking soda, and mix well. Unlike other cookie recipes, the wet ingredients and the dry ingredients aren't combined separately and then added together, but instead, each ingredient is added to the same bowl one at a time.
Crack the eggs into the bowl and add the vanilla extract without mixing them in. With a fork, prick the egg yolks until they run into the flour. Quickly pour the melted butter over the top, and begin mixing immediately- since the eggs aren't incorporated yet, there is a small chance they'll begin to cook from the heat of the butter (we're trying to avoid that). Mix until everything is well combined; the end product should be very shiny and fairly moist.
Finally, add in the chocolate chips/chunks. The bigger the better-- large quantities of high quality chocolate chips are a key ingredient for these cookies. Since the dough is slightly warm, the chocolate may begin to soften. No problem-- just pop it in the fridge to cool things off and help solidify it a bit for better cookie shaping. Minimum fridge time: 20 minutes. Optimal fridge time: several hours, or even overnight. If you know us at all, you know what we decided on- quickest time to cookies possible.
Chips of Choice
Once you're done impatiently waiting, preheat your oven to 375 and prepare your cookie sheet. Yep, sheet. Unless you have an industrial oven, our tutor recommends baking one set at a time to prevent overcrowding and disrupted heat flow. Cover your pan with a silicone baking sheet or tin foil- no greasing necessary. Remove the dough from the fridge and begin shaping your cookies. This is also a very critical part. Listen carefully: grab a large chunk of dough and roll it into a smooth, tightly packed ball. Is it 2" in diameter? Good. Are the chocolate chips evenly distributed? Good. Place it on the bake sheet. If not, add more dough as necessary. Make sure your dough balls are well spaced on the sheet- they spread pretty far and nobody likes a huge amorphous cookie blob. Except me.
After you've created about 8 large cookie dough balls, the sheet should be finished. Pop it in the oven (middle rack) and bake for 11 minutes. Since your oven isn't the same as my oven, there is a good way to know when they're finished- lift one and examine its bottom. If it's lightly browned, you're good to go. Otherwise, keep them in the oven for another minute or two- by 14 minutes, they should be done (if not, you might want to get your oven checked).
Move the cookies to a wire rack (or just a sheet of tin foil on the counter) and continue shaping and baking until you're out of dough. The recipe should provide about 22-25 cookies (if you produced the right size dough balls). The size and density of the dough you shape has a huge impact on the texture and weight of the cookie you produce-- if you do it right, you'll end up with a huge, very thick cookie with an ever-so-slightly crispy bottom, a soft, satisfying bite, and the perfect amount of chocolate chunks providing a touch of crunch. The blending of the melted butter and the uniform sphere production also helps to minimize crumbs- these cookies won't break or crumble when you bite into them. It doesn't get any better than this. Huddled in the kitchen around the first batch, an unnamed accomplice proclaimed, "These cookies are the sh*t." Yes. Yes, they are.