Chef Tracy Wilk has made a lot of chocolate chip cookies in her day. This recipe, which she taught us at the Institute of Culinary Education, is her go-to. It balances savory and sweet and creates an addictive chocolate chip cookie that has some surprises in store (like a mix of white, dark, and milk chocolate).
Sea Salt Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe
Makes 24 cookies
235 grams (1 ¾ cups) all-purpose flour 3 grams (½ teaspoon) baking soda 2 grams (½ teaspoon) fine sea salt 170 grams (6 ounces) butter, room temperature 165 grams (¾ cup) light brown sugar 110 grams (½ cup) granulated sugar 1 large egg 1 large egg yolk 4 grams (1 teaspoon) vanilla extract 300 grams (2 cups) chocolate (mix of white, dark, and milk), chopped Maldon sea salt, as desired for sprinkling on top of cookies
1. Preheat oven to 325°F.
2. Place flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Whisk together and set aside.
3. In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, cream together the butter and sugar. You want to mix on medium speed until the butter is fluffy. This will take about 5-10 minutes, depending on the temperature of the butter.
4. Once the butter and sugar is creamed, turn the speed to low. Crack your eggs into the container, and add your eggs and vanilla. Mix for about 30 seconds, just until combined.
5. Turn the stand mixer off and add your dry ingredients. Mix on slow speed until about three-quarters of the way combined. Turn machine off and add chopped chocolate, and mix on slow speed until the mixture just comes together.
6. Using a 1 ½ ounce ice cream scoop, divide the dough into 24 equal balls, pressing the palm of your hand against the scoop for a flat surface. Place cookie dough balls on a full sheet tray that has been lined with parchment paper and allow the dough to chill for at least 30 minutes.
7. Sprinkle the top of each cookie with a pinch of Maldon sea salt.
8. Bake until cookies are golden brown, about 8-10 minutes. Allow to cool for at least 5 minutes before removing from sheet tray.
How to Substitute Cookie Ingredients
Chef Wilk used the recipe as a starting point to teach a lesson on the chemistry of cookies. Here are a few substitutions she experimented with, and the way they affect the final product.
Chocolate chips: Chef Wilk's recipe calls for high-quality couverture chocolate, which melts into a gooey final product. Commonly available chocolate discs have a similar effect. Chocolate chips have a lower cocoa butter content, which means they don’t melt at the temperature used in the recipe. Use chips if you prefer a less gooey cookie.
Melted butter: Using melted butter, rather than the recipe’s softened butter, allows less air to enter the cookie dough during the “creaming” stage. This creates a cookie with less rise and a bit of extra crispiness, along with a slightly nuttier flavor that some find appealing.
Brown sugar: Brown sugar has molasses, so a recipe that subs out all the white sugar for brown has a more distinct molasses taste. Because brown sugar is more acidic, it also activates the baking soda a bit more, creating a slightly puffier cookie.
White sugar: Conversely, subbing out all the brown sugar for white activates less baking soda. The result is a cookie that rises less and spreads more. It also lacks a certain depth of flavor that the brown sugar provides.
Baking powder: By subbing out baking soda for baking powder, the cookie puffed up a bit more in the middle, but had a less uniform rise.
Gluten free: Using gluten-free flour created a predictably less chewy cookie (because one of the defining characteristics of gluten is the chewiness it imparts in the presence of water). It also had less structure, and was more apt to crumble rather than breaking apart.
Vegan: Chef Wilk also tried an entirely vegan “healthy” cookie, swapping in canola oil for the butter, vegan dark chocolate for the chocolate combination, coconut sugar for brown sugar, and whole wheat flour instead of all-purpose. As Chef Wilk admitted herself, there may well be a delicious vegan cookie recipe out there, but this isn’t it!