It’s the national holiday that few of us knew existed yet most of us can’t wait to celebrate.
Yes, 24 hours devoted to the chocolate chip, the key ingredient in America’s greatest contribution to the baking arts, the chocolate chip cookie.
Other than ripping open a bag of Nestle's or Ghirardelli and snacking up a storm, there's no better way to mark the day than enjoying a chip-packed cookie, or two, or more. Given their universal appeal, the chocolate chip cookie is a widely available commodity, but a holiday deserves discernment. Which is why you should check out this 2013 Star Tribune story, a guide to 16 gotta-have versions.
(Note that prices may have changed in the interim, and that one outlet, Bars Bakery, is no longer in business).
My picks of this particular litter? I’ll limit it to three: the butterscotch-ey delights at Patisserie 46 (and its sibling, Rose Street Patisserie), the brown sugar-overload baked at Sebastian Joe’s and the wrinkled, caramelized beauties at Rustica. But that’s just me. (What’s your favorite? Chime in below in the comments section).
Want to bake?
Turning to the tried-and-true Toll House version is the easy option, but you can do better than that. It’s already too late to prepare my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe; the formula, from the New York Times, requires that the dough rest in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours.
But this version, from chef Thomas Keller, is a worthy substitute, in part because it subverts the familiar Toll House process in several intriguing and ultimately winning ways. The butter doesn’t need to be coaxed to room temperature (instant cookies!), he skips the vanilla extract (you won’t miss it), and the semisweet chocolate is boosted with an equal-parts mix of bittersweet. (Here's a little secret that's very anti-National Chocolate Chip Day: the recipe doesn't use chips, but instead calls for chopping up far more flavorful bar chocolate).
Results? A deeply golden, not-too-sweet treat that caters to grown-up cookie cravings, one that’s crispy on the outside and chewy on the inside. That they’re a snap to make is icing on the cake. Go ahead. Preheat your oven.
THOMAS KELLER’S CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES
Makes about 2 1/2 dozen cookies.
Note: From “Ad Hoc at Home” (Artisan, 2009) by Thomas Keller.
2 1/3 c. plus 1 tbsp. flour
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. kosher salt
5 oz. 55 percent chocolate, cut into chip-size pieces (about 1 1/4 c.)
5 oz. 70 to 72 percent chocolate, cut into chip-size pieces (about 1 1/4 c.)
1/2 lb. (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, divided
1 c. packed dark brown sugar
3/4 c. granulated sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda and salt.
Working in several batches, place chopped chocolate in a fine-mesh basket strainer and shake to remove any chocolate “dust,” discarding small fragments.
In a bowl of an electric mixer on medium speed, beat half the butter until fairly smooth, about 1 minute. Add brown sugar, granulated sugar and remaining butter and beat until mixture is light and creamy, about 3 to 4 minutes. Using a spatula, scrape down sides of the bowl. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down sides of bowl as necessary. Reduce speed to low, add flour mixture and mix until just incorporated. Stir in chocolate.
(Dough can be refrigerated, shaped or unshaped, for up to 2 days, and frozen for up to 2 weeks; shape cookies on a baking sheet and freeze until firm, then transfer unbaked cookies to a freezer container. Defrost cookies overnight in the refrigerator before baking).
Shape 2 tablespoons dough into balls. Arrange 8 cookies on prepared baking sheets, leaving 2 or more inches between them (cookies will spread). Bake until tops are no longer shiny, about 12 minutes, rotating baking sheets halfway through baking.
Remove from oven and cool for 2 minute before transferring cookies to a wire rack to cool completely. Cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 days.
And for those who prefer their chocolate chips folded into cake, we have just the recipe for you, from Minneapolis native Griffith Day and his wife Cheryl, owners of the Back in the Day Bakery in Savannah, Ga. (Read my 2015 interview with Griffith here).
GINNY’S CHOCOLATE CHIP CAKE WITH CLASSIC CHOCOLATE BUTTERCREAM
Serves 9 to 12.
Note: From “Back in the Day Bakery Made with Love,” by Cheryl and Griffith Day (Artisan, $24.95).
1 c. whole milk
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 3/4 c. cake flour, plus extra for pan
1 1/4 c. flour 1 tbsp. baking powder
3/4 tsp. fine sea salt
1 c. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus extra for pan
1 1/2 c. granulated sugar
1/2 c. packed light brown sugar
4 large eggs, at room temperature
1 c. semisweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter and flour the bottom and sides of a 9x13-inch baking pan. In a measuring cup or a small bowl, stir together milk and vanilla extract and reserve. In a medium bowl, sift together cake flour, all-purpose flour, baking powder and salt and reserve. In a bowl of an electric mixer on medium speed, beat butter, granulated sugar and brown sugar for 1 minute. Increase speed to medium-high and beat until light and fluffy, 2 to 4 minutes. Reduce speed to low and add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition and scraping down sides of bowl with a rubber spatula as necessary. Add flour mixture in thirds, alternating with milk mixture and beginning and ending with flour. Fold in chocolate chips. Scrape batter into prepared pan and gently smooth top with spatula. Tap pan firmly on the counter to remove any air bubbles from the batter. Bake until a cake tester inserted in center of cake comes out clean, about 35 to 40 minutes. Remove from oven and cool cake for 15 minutes, then invert to a wire rack and cool completely. Invert cake to a platter and frost top and sides with Classic Chocolate Buttercream (see Recipe). Cake can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 days.
CLASSIC CHOCOLATE BUTTERCREAM ICING
Makes about 3 cups.
Note: From “Back in the Day Bakery Made with Love.”
4 oz. semisweet chocolate, finely chopped, or 2/3 c. semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 c. (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 tbsp. whole milk
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 1/2 c. powdered sugar, sifted
In a double boiler over gently simmering water (or in a bowl in a microwave oven), melt chocolate, stirring occasionally, until chocolate is completely melted and smooth. Remove from heat and set aside until chocolate is tepid. In a bowl of an electric mixer on medium speed, beat butter until smooth and creamy, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add milk, mixing until completely blended. Add cooled chocolate and mix until completely incorporated, scraping down sides of bowl with a rubber spatula as necessary. Add vanilla extract and mix until completely incorporated. Reduce speed to low and gradually add powdered sugar, then continue beating until buttercream is creamy and silky. Frosting can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days.