We’ve all seen the pictures, those perfectly browned rippling circles of cookie goodness. Piled up in mountains waiting to be devoured still warm from the oven. Cookies are one of those things that we all have our own idea of what we think constitutes the perfect cookie. Thick, thin, chewy, crispy, bitesize, huge, sweet or fruity – the possibilities are endless. Personally, I like my cookie to be crispy round the edges and gooey in the middle. I’d go as far as saying slightly undercooked (SHRIEK!) They need to be soft and gooey, but absolutely not thick and stodgy. It also has to have something with a bit of crunch to contrast the softness so I like to add hazelnuts to give it some bite.
If you’re reading this, you’re probably like me and have tried many different recipes all hoping they turn out like what’s in your imagination – truth is, you’re probably going to have to do some trial and error with recipes and oven temps to achieve what you like.
Cookies are and should remain one of the easiest and quickest things to knock up and in my opinion they should stay that way. Having said that, regardless of recipe, there are a couple of essential rules you should follow to give you the best chance. The first tip is freezing your dough. Say it with me now. FREEZE. YOUR. DOUGH. Doing this firms it back up after the mixing and prevents it melting in the oven into a runny mess.
The second is a technique called pan banging I first read about from Sarah Kieffer. ‘Pan, banging? But what does this mean?’ I hear you cry! The recipe calls for the baking tray to be banged throughout the cooking process. As the cookies bake the raising agents cause them to puff up slightly, banging the cookies knocks this air out and causes a ripple effect to form around the edges. With each cycle of heating and banging more and more ripples are formed on the cookies and this gives you those beautiful looking rippled cookies. Not only does this make them look like the perfect cookie, but the ripples also add to the chewy/crispy combination.
Now for the recipe suggestions. It goes without saying that Sarah Kieffer’s pan banging cookie recipe makes the short list. These cookies are huge. They have to be for you to create the beautiful ripples when you bang the pans. These cookies have a high butter content compared to flour so yields a very soft sticky dough and for that reason you absolutely need to find time to chill them before they bake. Maybe not the recipe for you if you’re pinched for time. The texture is just right, they are mouth-wateringly chewy in the middle and crispy round the edges. The only snag with this recipe is that the cookies are so big I can only cook four at a time which drags the baking process out for way too long. Obviously you could just roll out smaller cookies and bake them for a shorter time, but I just don’t think they would be the same.
The second recipe is straight from the Bon Appetit kitchen. BA’s best cookies are just, well, blummin awesome. Slightly different to your average cookie, these ones are made using browned butter and by eck does it make a difference. It adds a nutty richness to the flavour and contrasted with the dark chocolate chip makes them irresistible to eat. If you’ve never made a recipe using browned butter and have an extra five minutes to be able to do it then this recipe is a great opportunity to give it a go. These cookies are an easier size to handle meaning you can cook the whole batch in one go, the texture is lovely and fudgy in the middle, I suspect from the extra yolks in the recipe. I read the reviews on this before I baked – everyone suggested adding approx 45g more flour to the recipe – I did just that. Here is the recipe and how-to and if you don’t follow Bon Appetit on the socials, then you should. That is all.
Finally, this is my hybrid recipe. One that I have pieced together from others. This (for me) is my perfect recipe. Whenever I post pictures of these cookies I get lots of messages from people usually containing the dribbly mouth emoji, and i promise you thats exactly how they make you feel.
It includes browned butter for that rich nuttiness, an extra egg yolk for fudginess and ban bangin for the entertainmentness. (yes, i know that isn’t a real word). The toasted hazelnuts in this recipe really make it next level although i quite often have to leave them out due to my other half having a nut allergy so if this applies to you too then switch out the 100g of nuts and experiment with other ingredients. Failing that just add 100g of extra chocolate, I sometimes add dark chocolate orange, or orange matchsticks for texture!
Anyway, rambling aside. Here you go.
325g plain flour
225g unsalted butter
325g light brown muscavado sugar
1/2 tsp baking powder
½ tsp baking soda
2 large eggs
1 extra egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla extract
200g dark chocolate (do not even dream of buying cooking chocolate)
100g Hazelnuts (make life easier by buying ready toasted if you wish)
- First things first, let’s toast the hazelnuts. Heat your oven to 170c, spread your hazelnuts on a baking sheet and roast for around 10-15 mins. You will know when they are done when the skins go dark and the smell of toasted nuts becomes really strong. Immediately wrap the nuts in a clean tea towel and leave for five minutes while you chop your chocolate roughly. Let the nuts sweat away for a while, then rub them vigorously in the tea towel to remove the skins. I like to make a ball by folding in and holding the edges in one hand and scrunching with the other. The skins will come away on the tea towel and will wash out fine. When you’re done, roughly chop the nuts. Yes this seems a bit of a hassle, but I find that ready toasted hazelnuts usually come with the skins on and i find them too bitter.
- Next, brown the butter. Melt the butter over a medium-high heat. Stirring all the while and scraping the bottom of the pan, allow the butter to melt, it will foam and fizz and eventually begin to turn dark. You will see it change a rich brown colour, take it as far as you feel comfortable, but the darker the richer, it should take about five minutes. You will see dark bits appear – this is normal and ok!. Transfer to a large bowl and allow to cool slightly.
- When cooled slightly add into bowl the sugar, vanilla, eggs and mix well.
- Add the dry ingredients and stir slowly until JUST combined. Then fold in the chocolate and hazelnuts.
- Scoop the balls and lay out on a tray that will fit in the freezer. An ice cream scoop works really well, aim for somewhere between 70-80g balls for good size cookies.
- Chill for a minimum of 20mins, it won’t hurt to leave them in there as long as you want.
- Spread the balls out on a couple of baking sheets, leaving plenty of room for them to spread.
- Bake for a total of 16-18mins depending on how soft you like them. I adopt the pan banging method, so bake for 10 minutes initially, then every two minutes lift the edge of the pan and let it drop against the shelf of the oven a couple of times.
- EAT! i’m not going to lie, i can never wait for them to cool!