For the fourth round of the Chocolate Chip Cookie Project, I turned to my close personal friend Dorie Greenspan.
We've never met, of course, but her cookbooks have played a vital role in my baking life for more years than I can recall, so it feels as if we have a meaningful (if wholly one-sided) relationship of long standing.
There’s a Toll House-like recipe in my well-worn copy of her “Baking: From My Home to Yours,” and I almost went there. But then I took a shot and pulled her recently released “Baking Chez Moi: Recipes from My Paris Home to Your Home Anywhere” off our kitchen library shelf and began flipping through the index. Could it be possible? Can the French -- or, at the very least, an American in Paris -- have a thing for chocolate chip cookies?
Of course they do, and La Greenspan is on it, naturally. Her recipe originates with bistro owner Eduoard Bobin, and when she first glanced over his recipe, she was disappointed to find little difference from the familiar American version that graces the back of so many chocolate chip packages.
Wait, had my Dorie made a mistake that trips up many bakers and cooks? Had she not read the recipe twice? She doesn't come out and say that, but she does admit to not initially noticing a few key alterations (a failing which, in my worldview, was a tremendously humanizing moment for someone I have long imagined residing in one of Olympus' better neighborhoods, and only increased my reverence for her). There’s significantly more flour in this iteration than the basic American version, and the nuts aren’t chopped, they’re ground.
Ok, this sounded compellingly offbeat, enough to test-drive. And then a light bulb went off over my head: Almond flour! What a great use for the almond flour that's sitting in my pantry, leftovers from our 2014 Taste Holiday Cookie Contest winner. (Greenspan also recommends hazelnut flour).
Here's another quirk: Greenspan suggests adding an unusual step while the cookies are baking. Midway through, use a spatula to gently press down the tops of each cookie. I bake batches that followed this advice, and others that ignored it, and frankly I didn’t see much of a difference between the two (sure, the pressed ones had spread slightly wider, but not much), other than the tops of some of the pressed cookies ended up with unattractive chocolate smears, a result from coming in contact with the spatula.
As for the cookies, I liked, but didn’t tumble head-over-heels. They’ve got the thick shape and chewy texture that I generally aim for (and rarely achieve) in a chocolate chip cookie, and I love the look of the flecks of almond that dot the the dough (it helped that the almond flour I was using was technically almond meal, which uses unblanched almonds, resulting in that verigated brown-and-gold look; almond flour, which is made with blanched almonds, is a pale, monochromatic gold). The chocolate-dough ratio is good, too, a close-to 50/50 match.
But they lack they enticing caramel brown color that generally grabs my eye, and their cakey texture (due to all that extra flour, no doubt) is drier and less buttery than the Toll House role model that obviously still continues to rule my world. However, they’re fantastic with milk, and what more can a chocolate chip cookie fanatic ask for?
EDUOARD’S CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES
Makes about 4 dozen cookies.
Note: From “Baking Chez Moi” by Dorie Greenspan (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, $40).
3 1/2 c. flour
1 1/4 tsp. fine sea salt
3/4 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. baking powder
1 c. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 c. granulated sugar
1 c. lightly packed brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
12 oz. bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped (or 2 c. chocolate chips)
1 1/2 c. almond or hazelnut flour
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, salt, baking soda and baking powder, and reserve.
In a bowl of an electric mixer on medium speed, beat butter until smooth, about 1 minute. Add granulated sugar and brown sugar and beat until well-blended, about 2 minutes. Add vanilla extract and beat until well-combined. Add eggs, one at a time, beating for 1 minute after each egg goes in. Reduce speed to low and add flour mixture in 4 to 5 additions, mixing only until each addition is just incorporated. Add chocolate and nut flour and mix until just combined. Divide dough in half, wrap each piece in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours (and up to 3 days).
When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees and line baking sheets with parchment paper.
Scoop dough into golf ball-size mounds (about 1 1/2 tablespoons) and place 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets. Bake for 8 minutes and then, using a clean metal spatula, gently press each mound down just a little; rotate the baking sheet and bake until cookies are pale brown, about 7 to 8 minutes. (They’ll still be slightly soft in the center, but that’s fine – they’ll firm up as they cool). Remove from oven and cool 1 minute before transferring cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.