There’s a reason the James Beard Awards have the namesake they do. These chocolate chip cookies are ample proof. I’ve been filling out my collection of vintage classics to complement the oddball books I hoard – I now have Julia, Craig, and James sitting on my shelves alongside volumes like The Gay Nineties Cookbook.
I must confess: I’m often lazy when it comes to recipe experimentation. It’s not that I don’t have ideas – it’s just so easy, most of the time, to take the path of least resistance and stick generally with a recipe. Especially when it comes to baking, where small tweaks can have broad consequences. So, instead, I’ll try recipes that have made their own slight alterations. Like this cookie recipe, which uses less butter than most chocolate chip doughs, and calls for addition of milk.
A note, to begin: that’s not just milk being poured in above. I added bourbon at the same time, in place of vanilla extract. This is one tweak I’m pretty comfortable making; in fact, at this point I use whiskey so often in chocolate-based recipes that I don’t keep vanilla in my pantry. While the bourbon’s effects are rather subtle, the impact of the milk was very noticeable in the finished cookies. These were a little crisper than your average chocolate chip cookie, but they also had a lovely lightness. The addition of milk makes them, fittingly, absolutely perfect for dunking in a nice cold glass of the stuff.
OK, so adding bourbon wasn’t the only change I made: this recipe calls for sifted flour, and since I don’t have a sifter I measured by weight (sifted flour is 4 oz. a cup, un-sifted about 4.25) and whisked the dry ingredients together to break up clumps.
Finally, because I used large, flat Ghirardelli chocolate chips instead of small Nestle morsels, I had to make balls of dough walnut-sized – quite a bit bigger than the “half teaspoon” James Beard tells one to drop on the pan.
The lesson here: even when we don’t actively set out to change recipes, the process of translating from notes on a page into a finished product necessitates constant adaptation and discretion. And this is why cooking – even when following a recipe – never bores me. Now here’s your formula. Adapt at will. And perhaps try the milk trick in other butter-based cookie recipes…
Chocolate Chip Cookies (Makes about 2-3 dozen)
3/4 c. unsalted butter (1 1/2 sticks), room temperature
3/4 c. white sugar
3/4 c. packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp. vanilla (or bourbon)
3 tbsp. whole milk
2 1/2 c. sifted flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
12 oz. semisweet chocolate chips
1 c. chopped walnuts (optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and line two baking sheets with parchment. Cream the butter and sugars together until light and fluffy.
2. Add the milk, vanilla, and egg to the butter-sugar mixture and blend until smooth.
3. Sift (or whisk) the flour with the salt and baking powder, and add gradually to the wet ingredients. Mix until a smooth dough forms.
4. Add the chocolate chips and nuts and stir them through the dough so they are evenly distributed.
5. Using a tablespoon, drop walnut-sized balls of dough onto the prepared cookie sheets, about an inch and a half apart.
6. Bake the cookies for 10-12 minutes, until the tops are golden and the bottoms start to darken slightly. Cool completely on a rack before serving. Enjoy with milk!
James Beard has a chocolate chip cookie recipe? It’s got to be amazing…and I love your tweaks. My hubby is always begging for these cookies…and I’m glad I have a new, delicious recipe to test 🙂
The cookies sound great with the addition of bourbon. I had no idea that James Beard had recipes and then I saw a cookbook??? Where have I been lol.
Yummy! Nothing is better than homemade chocolate chip cookies! 🙂
Heheh bourbon in it? Can others tell you added? Looks really delicious. My kids love chocolate chip cookies and I love your twist. I’m kind of lazy to experiment too. I usually cook because I have to (family is depending on my cooking) so I just cook without being so creative about cooking. Thanks for inspiration!
I love that you used bourbon instead of vanilla….opens a whole new door for cookies!!! I would have made them larger as well. If I am going to eat a cookie, I want a decent sized cookie!
ahh i’ve been wanting to try splashing a little liquor into my cookies – glad to know it works. 😉 yum yum…
btw, i love your pink escali scale – i have a boring white one – only one on sale. lol!
Ha Celia! You are obviously settling happily into your new abode. I love your cookie makeover – particularly the splash of bourbon!
So good. I love that you’re using whiskey too. You’re such a badass 🙂 Buzzed!
Celia, your mixer looks good, and James Beard is great.
I was unsure of whether I wanted to do the annual Christmas cookie bake, Celia, but you may have put me back on track. . . . Thanks!
I never knew James Beard had a chocolate chip recipe! Thanks for bringing this gem to light =)