Best Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe EVER! Thank you Jacques Torres!

I have been meaning to share this recipe with you all since last fall but it got pushed to the back of my mind behind the thousands of other ideas that keep me awake at nights. When I read that May 15th is National Chocolate Chip Day I suddenly remembered that I never shared it and decided that National Chocolate Chip Day would be the perfect day to do so.

For a while, I have been searching for the “perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe”. I’d tried several different recipes but nothing ever really stood out as anything special to me. (You may recall my blog post on Bacon Chocolate Chip Cookies.) Well, I was in Florida for a few weeks last fall and visited Disney World’s Epcot Center during their annual Food and Wine Festival. On the day I was there the famous chocolatier, Jacques Torres, was also there doing a chocolate cooking demonstration. While talking about all of his various accomplishments in chocolate he joked that despite all those achievements he would probably be best remembered for his chocolate chip cookie recipe. That immediately got my attention. As soon as I got home I googled “Jacques Torres chocolate chip cookies” and sure enough it was all over the internet and everyone was talking about how fantastic these cookies were. I had to try them!

I went shopping the next day and had a batched whipped up that night. The worse part about these cookies is that they have to set in the refrigerator for 24 hours before you bake them. I was so excited to try them that those 24 hours were pure torture. When it finally came time to bake them, all the waiting was definitely worth it. They were amazing! My husband and kids dove into them and said they were, by far, the best chocolate chip cookies they had ever eaten. I couldn’t believe that I had finally found my “perfect chocolate chip cookie” recipe.

I did make just a couple of small modifications to the original recipe to make it easier on myself. Jacques Torres suggests you use his Dark Chocolate Baking Discs in the cookies. I am sure they would taste even better with his prestigious chocolate but I didn’t want to have to place an online order every time I wanted to make a batch of cookies. Instead, I used the suggestion of another blogger (I can’t remember where I saw this) and used a combination of Ghirardelli Bittersweet Baking Chips and Ghirardelli Baking Bars, both easily found at my local grocery store. The other change I made was the original recipe tells you to refrigerate the dough, right after mixing it, then scoop out the balls of dough and add a salt garnish after the 24 hour rest period. When I tried to do this I found it was almost impossible to scoop out the dough because it was so hard from refrigeration. Also the salt wouldn’t stick to the cold dough. To solve that problem, I scooped the dough into balls while it was fresh from mixing, added the salt, and then refrigerated the dough balls for 24 hours.

How is this cookie different than other chocolate chip cookies, you ask? Well, the three things about it that I love the most are: 1. The cookies are huge. It is hard to accurately tell their size from the above picture but here is a picture of the original batch that I made while in Florida. You can tell by how big they are on my baking sheet.

I have tried making them smaller too but found that they really are better at the larger size because it allows them to accommodate the chocolate chunks and they seem to bake up nicer. 2. The chocolate chunks and chips are large and have intense chocolate flavor. 3. The addition of a sea salt garnish adds a mild saltiness that tastes great with the chocolate and sweetness of the cookie.

One warning, these cookies are definitely pricier to make than your average Nestlé Toll House batch of cookies. You use three chocolate baking bars along with a bag of baking chips, plus you use a combination of bread and cake flour instead of all-purpose flour. They aren’t a cookie I make every day but they are sure worth it when you want something special.

A final note, before I give you the recipe; I live in a high altitude area so I found that when I baked them at home they did bake up slightly different than they had in Florida. You can sort of see the difference between my Florida batch and the others. They were a little more airy and puffed up a bit more. They were still incredible and way better than any other chocolate chip cookie I have ever baked here though. I am perfectly happy with them as is but I think I may still try to make a few modifications to the recipe in the future and see if I can get them as perfect as they were at sea level.

OK, enough talk; let’s start baking!

Click here for a printable version of the Best Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe Ever

The ingredients you need for these cookies are:
• 2 cups minus to 2 tablespoons Cake flour
• 1 2/3 cup Bread flour
• 1 1/4 teaspoon Baking soda
• 1 1/2 teaspoon Baking powder
• 1 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
• 1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 sticks) Unsalted butter, softened
• 1 1/4 cups Light brown sugar
• 1 cups plus 2 tablespoons Granulated sugar
• 2 Large eggs, room temperature
• 2 teaspoon Vanilla extract
• 1 1/4 pounds Bittersweet chocolate at least 60 percent cacao content (I use 3 – 4oz Ghirardelli Semi Sweet Chocolate Baking Bars and 1 – 10oz bag Ghirardelli Bittersweet Chocolate Baking Chips)
• Sea salt for garnish

One thing I don’t recommend is the salt that you see in the above picture. I used it because it was all that I had at the time but it was too coarse to go through my sifter. I now use a salt that is a little bit finer.

A very important factor when making any cookie is the temperature of your butter. You want your butter to be soft enough to leave an indention from your finger but not so soft that it is losing it’s shape or, worse yet, starting to melt. The temperature of your room will determine how long it needs to set out before use. I usually set mine out for 30-45 minutes and then start checking it at that point. Don’t try to heat it in the microwave because it will heat unevenly and start to melt in some places. Once it is melted it will no longer cream properly with the sugar. When it is ready it should look something like this after being pressed on with a finger:

Step 1: Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Set aside.

Step 2: If using baking bars, chop bars into large chunks and combine with baking chips. Set aside.

Look at all that chocolatey goodness!

Step 3: Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars together until very light, about 5 minutes.

Step 4: Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. Reduce speed to low, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds.

Step 5: Drop chocolate pieces in and incorporate them without breaking them.

Step 6: Scoop 3 ½ -ounce mounds of dough (the size of generous golf balls) onto a baking sheet that has been lined with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Make sure to turn horizontally any chocolate pieces that are poking up; it will make for a more attractive cookie. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt. Be careful not to over do it on the salt, you want them to have just a hint of saltiness.

I found that a 2 1/2 inch scoop made the perfect sized mounds.

I also placed them all close together so that I could get them on one sheet for refrigeration. When it is time to bake them the next day, you will only want to place 6 cookies on a sheet at a time because they are so large and will spread even more while baking.

Step 7: Cover baking sheet with plastic wrap and refrigerate dough for at least 24 hours, up to 72 hours.



Step 8:
When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line another baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Place 6 cookies, evenly spaced, on the baking sheet and bake until golden brown but still soft, 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer sheet to a wire rack for 10 minutes, then slip cookies onto another rack to cool a bit more. Repeat with remaining dough balls.

And here, once again, is the final cookie. Look at those beautiful chunks of chocolate and the light garnish of salt on top.

The only thing better than a beautiful chocolate chip cookie is a beautiful chocolate chip cookie with a big bite in it!

Until next time, God Bless and Sweet Dreams.

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Quick Tip for Juicing Key Limes

I’ve been busy making macarons the last couple of days and will have a post up on those soon but I wanted to share a quick tip with you.

One of the macaron flavors I am making is Key Lime Pie. I don’t know about you but I love just about anything key lime flavored! Key limes shouldn’t be confused with normal limes; they are much smaller, often purchased in bags instead of individually, and they have a more tart flavor.

As much as I love to use them, I used to dread having to juice them because they are so tiny. I had tried putting them in my electric juicer, pressing them in a lemon press and even just squeezing them with my hands. They were too small for the juicer or lemon press and squeezing them by hand sort of worked but I could never get all the juice out. To top it off it takes a lot of them to get a decent amount of juice, because of their small size, so it would take forever.

One day I saw a tip, somewhere online, about pressing them through a garlic press. It changed everything! I can now juice an entire bag of key limes in just a few minutes! Here is what I do:

Cut the key limes in half and place one half into the garlic press, cut side down. See how nicely it fits in the press?

Then press

See how easy that was? I like to finish off by pouring the juice through a fine sieve to remove any pulp or seeds.

Just look at that beautiful juice! Now it’s read for a pie, cookies, or macaron filling like I am making.

I hope this tip was as helpful for you as it was for me. Well, back to the macarons I go.

Until next time, God Bless and Sweet Dreams.

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Sweet Dreams Cake App Now Available on Android

After a much-too-long process, the Sweet Dreams Cake App is now available on Android devices! Thank you for your patience, you can see the app page on Google Play by clicking the image below:

 

 

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A Tangled Themed Cake to Create an Icing Smile

For me, making cakes is about so much more than just throwing together some flour and sugar. Every cake I make is a special, unique creation designed for an individual person. I spend countless hours and pour my heart into each and every one. I view cake decorating as my ministry; a way to show my love and God’s love to others. It is for this reason that I have never pursued cakes as a business. It is also for this reason that a couple of weeks ago I signed up to be a Sugar Angel with an organization called Icing Smiles. If you have never heard of Icing Smiles you should check out their website. They serve families of children with critical illnesses by using local volunteer bakers to create cakes and other treats to help these families celebrate special occasions and temporarily take their minds off their medical situations.

Ever since I first heard of Icing Smiles I knew this was something I wanted to be a part of. It took me a while to finally get around to actually applying though. After months of putting it off, I sat down one morning and filled out the online application. To my surprise it only took about 5 minutes to complete. I was approved within a couple of hours. After talking to other friends who are involved with Icing Smiles I learned that it can take a while before you are needed. I was shocked the next morning when I opened my email and found that I had already received my first call to action. It couldn’t have been a better match because I was placed with a family that has two little girls. I also have two girls, who are teenagers now, so I have always had a special place in my heart for little girls.

The oldest daughter, Lucy was diagnosed with neuroblastoma when she was just 3 years old. Lucy is now turning 8 and is cancer free after many surgeries, chemotherapy, radiation and other treatments. She has an amazing family who has used this tragedy to start a foundation, called Lucy’s Light, to raise awareness and funds for childhood cancer research.

The call to action was a request for a birthday dream cake to celebrate Lucy’s 8th birthday. The theme request was Rapunzel from the movie Tangled. As I thought about the movie I was moved by the fact that Rapunzel was trapped in a tower for many years, fearing she would never see life beyond that tower. Through her strength and courage she finally jumped out of it and slid down her hair to freedom and a life beyond anything she could have dreamed. To me, this was representative of little Lucy’s life. She was trapped by an awful cancer but fought hard to battle it and, with her strength and courage, she is now free from that awful disease and has a beautiful life waiting for her. I knew that had to be the scene I represented in the cake.

Many hours of working on the cake allowed me a lot of time to think about Lucy, pray for her and fall in love with a little girl that I had yet to meet. Here is the resulting cake:

And some close ups:

The top of the tower

The tower base

Rapunzel escaping down her long hair

The landscape

Rapunzel’s little buddy, Pascal the chameleon

Of all the pictures I took, here is my favorite:

Lucy seeing her cake for the first time

Most decorators would probably agree that a reaction like that is worth more than all the money in the world. This is why I love making cakes. This type of a moment makes every late night and a kitchen full of dirty dishes all worth it.

As I carried the cake to her front door, Lucy watched from a window and I could hear her screaming with delight. Lucy was as sweet and adorable as I had imagined she would be. My heart felt like it would burst as I finally got to meet this sweet little girl and hug her for the first time. She was so excited and wanted to know how I made every little piece on the cake.

Her family was just as wonderful. They overwhelmed me with their gratitude and I felt an instant connection with them. I knew it was no coincidence that I was placed with Lucy; there was a heavenly hand at work.

As I left the home, my eyes welled up with tears. This was one of the greatest moments of my life and definitely the greatest cake delivery I had ever made. I also knew that this couldn’t be the end of it. I had fallen in love with Lucy and fallen in love with her family. I am keeping in touch with this incredible family and hoping to be able to be a part of their upcoming fundraisers. I realize that I can’t expect that every call to action will turn out quite like this but I am so thankful for my first experience with Icing Smiles. For me, this is what cake decorating is all about.

May God bless you, little Lucy, and may you remain cancer free for the rest of your long life.

Until next time God Bless and Sweet Dreams.

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1000-Likes Facebook Car-Cake DVD Giveaway

Well, after all the praise for Mike and his DVD found in this post, how would you like a chance to win a FREE DVD? Last month my Facebook page hit a milestone by breaking 1000 “likes.” I’ve been wanting to do a special giveaway since then but was having a hard time deciding what I should give away. After doing this cake I decided that a Cakenology DVD would be the perfect prize. It involves cake and one of my favorite cake artists as well as one of my husband’s favorite things, cars. (I wanted to include my husband in on this somehow because he is the creator of my app and my web developer, along with being a car guy.)

So here is what you have to do to enter; you need to “like” my Facebook page (if you haven’t already), then:

  • Find the post for this blog entry on my Facebook page (it’s pinned to the top) and “like” the post
  • Leave me a comment on the post with the name of your favorite type of car.

That is it, really easy. Remember though, that you have to both “like” the post and comment on it for your entry to count. I will be picking a winner on the morning of February 3rd, 2014 so you have until midnight (MST) the night before to enter. Good luck!

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