“Cakewalk” Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate Chip Cookie

The Cakewalk Cookie

I recently read Kate Moses’ memoir Cakewalk, which I borrowed from the library based on the statement at the blog Tipsy Baker that the recipe in them for chocolate chip cookies was perhaps unbeatable. My previous go-to chocolate chip cookie recipe was Pam Anderson’s, which I included with my previous Cakewalk entry, since I no longer had a copy of Cakewalk at hand and couldn’t share that recipe. Then I went out and bought my own copy.

As with everything in Cakewalk, memories of growing up are intertwined with memories of baked goods and recipes. The chocolate chip cookies were a survival mechanism:

In the solitary refuge of our kitchen, I gradually gained the confidence in my basic skill as a baker to start improvising, playing with proportions and ingredients until what I made tasted the way I imagined it could.

The chocolate chip cookies I bake these days only remotely resemble the cookies I baked when I was in junior high and high school. Still, when I make them, I sometimes think about those weirdo kids from junior high, friends for as long as we needed each other, learning to appreciate what good came to us–or not (189)

I’ve halved Kate’s recipe, since hers produces 4 to 5 dozen cookies, and put a strain on the engine of my Kitchenaid mixer. (I have the smaller, non-lifty-bowl kind). Two or so dozen of these will be plenty. Also, I use the method from Pam Anderson’s recipe, which produces a puffier cookie than the time I made Kate’s recipe right out of the bowl, though she says its best to refrigerate them overnight or up to two days.

Absolutely Best Chocolate Chip Cookies, adapted from Kate Moses’ Cakewalk
(makes 2 dozen cookie, more or less depending on size)

4/3 cup unbleached all-purpose flour
2/3 cup whole wheat pastry flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 teaspoons instant espresso powder
3/4 cup salted butter, at room temperature
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1 large egg, room temperature
3/4 pound high-quality chocolate, coarsely chopped (this is an a$$load of chocolate, and if you buy the good stuff, 3/4 pound will cost a lot. I used the Guittard semi-sweet chips my grocery carries in bulk. They were delicious, if not as rustic as chopped chocolate.)
Optional: 1 cup walnuts, toasted, cooled then chopped coarsely

In medium bowl, stir together flours, soda, powder, salt and espresso powder. Set aside.

In large bowl of electric mixer, beat the butter on medium speed for a couple of minutes, then add the sugars, beating until very light, about 5 minutes. Add the vanilla and the egg and beat again until very light and fluffy. With only minimal strokes of the mixer blade or by hand, stir in the flour mixture in three or four parts, mixing just until it disappears. Stir in the chopped chocolate and nuts, if using. The cookie dough can be used immediately, but it is better if chilled, covered, at least overnight or up to 2 days.

(If you refrigerate, I recommend scooping the dough into balls before doing so; scooping refrigerated dough is hard work and likely to bend a spoon or break an ice-cream scoop.)

Moses’ baking instructions: Preheat the oven to 350. On an ungreased cookie sheet, place balls of dough the size of golf balls at least 2 inches apart. Bake for 10 to 13 minutes, checking after 10 minutes, until the edges are light brown and the surface is crackly and set but the centers are still soft. Let cool for about 5 minutes on the cookie sheet, then transfer to a wife rack to finish cooling completely.

My baking instructions: After mixing the dough, place a sheet of parchment paper on a cookie sheet. Scoop dough either by rounded tablespoonfuls, or with an ice cream scoop, onto sheet. They can touch. Place cookie sheet with dough balls in freezer. Preheat your oven to 400. Cover a second cookie sheet with parchment paper. After 30 minutes, remove the dough balls, put 6 to 8 on each sheet, leaving at least 2 inches between them. Return the rest of the dough balls to the freezer. (You can make them after the first batch is finished baking, or cover them and bake them later.) Place dough in 400 oven and bake about 8 minutes, or until dough ball loses shape and collapses. Reduce oven temperature to 350. Open oven, switch cookie sheets top to bottom and front to back. Bake for 6 to 8 minutes more until cookies are light brown at edges. Remove from oven. Cool 5 minutes on sheets, then completely on wire racks. If you are baking more batches, return oven to 400.

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