Cookies, cookies everywhere and not a chocolate chip cookie in sight. Look, let’s be honest about Christmas cookies: they’re fun to look at but are they really fun to eat? Most of them taste like cardboard with over-sweetened frosting slathered on. While everyone tries to reproduce the cover of Bon Appetit (which is, admittedly, pretty stunning), why don’t you do what I’d do and make a batch of these comforting, hot from the oven chocolate chip cookies from one of America’s greatest bakers? As someone who makes a lot of chocolate chip cookies (Martha’s, whole wheat, Eric Wolitzky’s, ones with cranberries and oats) these may be the most wholesome and comforting I’ve yet made, partially because they’re packed with walnuts.
I know walnuts aren’t a big selling point for most people with chocolate chip cookies. I’ll confess that until I made these, I might’ve been reluctant to try a cookie so packed with nuts. But the truth is the nuts round things out, they give the cookies texture and body and purpose; when you eat one, you don’t feel like you’re just eating butter and sugar and flour, you feel like you’re eating something that’s also kind of nourishing.
Otherwise, it’s just a riff on all other chocolate chip cookie recipes, all of which are just ratios of butter, brown sugar, eggs, vanilla, flour and salt.
Oh and chocolate.
The difference, though, is when you have someone as O.C.D. as Nancy Silverton dictating the recipe, you know the ratio is spot-on. She’s a perfectionist to the nth degree and you’ll know you’re in good hands when you taste this completed batter.
In the headnote, Nancy recommends you chill the dough and then make only as much as you want to eat in that moment because chocolate chip cookies are best when they’re hot out of the oven. I couldn’t agree more. Only my strategy is to scoop a bunch of balls with an ice cream scoop, flatten them, and then freeze the ones I don’t want right now. Those frozen ones go into a freezer bag and then, whenever I want cookies, I take ‘em right out of the bag and put them right on a cookie sheet.
Oh also? I sprinkle them with sea salt at the end just because.
These are excellent cookies, taken from that Campanile Cookbook I was telling you about in the last post. While everyone else is up to their elbows in powdered sugar, give these a whirl. They may not be as pretty as Aunt Carol’s gingerbread men but they’ll taste way better.
Recipe: Nancy Silverton’s Chocolate Chip Cookies
Summary: From The Campanile Cookbook.
6 ounces (1 1/2 cups) walnut halves
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate
2 1/4 sticks (9 ounces) unsalted butter
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1 extra-large egg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 1/2 cups unbleached pastry or all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
Spread the walnuts on a baking sheet. Toast the nuts on the top rack for about 5 to 6 minutes. Shake the pan about halfway through to ensure that the nuts toast evenly. Take are not to overly color the nuts, as that will produce a bitter flavor. Remove the baking pans from the oven, remove the nuts from the baking pans and allow to cool.
Using a sharp knife, chop the chocolate into rough 3/8-inch pieces and reserve in a cool place. (Like a nightclub. Get it? A cool place? Sorry.) Then chop the walnut halves coarsely.
Fill the bowl of the electric mixer with warm water and let stand for 2 to 3 minutes. Empty the warm water from the mixing bowl and wipe dry with a kitchen towel. (Note: I skipped this step though I’m sure it helps the butter soften more quickly.)
Using the paddle attachment, starting on low speed, cream the butter; as it starts to soften, increase the speed to medium. Cream the butter until smooth, about 1 to 2 minutes, scarping the sides of the bowl down as needed. Add the granulated sugar and the brown sugar, mixing until well blended, about 1 minute.
In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the egg and the vanilla extract. Then add the mixture, in 2 portions, to the butter mixture, mixing on medium speed between each addition.
In a dry, large mixing bowl, stir together the flour, baking soda, and baking powder to combine thoroughly. Add half the flour mixture to the creamed butter, and mix on medium speed for about 1 minute; then add the remaining half and mix until just combined, about 1 more minute.
Add the chopped walnuts and the chocolate pieces and mix just until incorporated. Cover the mixer bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for one hour.
Using an ice cream scoop. scoop the dough into 1 1/2-inch balls on to parchment lined cookie sheets and flatten them slightly. (You can sprinkle with sea salt here too, if you’d like.) Bake what you want now, freeze the rest. The cookies take about 15 to 20 minutes and are done when golden brown around the edges.
Allow to cool slightly before eating, if you can manage that.