(Bloomberg) -- Editor’s note: As we leave our home kitchens to dine out more, the weekly Lunch Break column has evolved to highlight dishes from a variety of sources: a new or reopened restaurant; a newsmaking person, place, or recipe; or, of course, a great cookbook.
Chocolate chip cookies win every matchup they face. Even during Christmas cookie season, they come out as the favorite 78% of the time in head-to-head matchups with sugar cookies, brownies, or any other variety.
But within the world of chocolate chip cookies, there are multiple camps. Some debate whether add-ins such as nuts or oatmeal belong. And let’s not forget the all-important crispy-vs.-chewy debate. (Bloomberg Pursuits has waded into the contentious world of chocolate chip cookies before, crowning a soft, chewy Christina Tosi cookie as an ideal treat.)
Now, a gorgeous new cookbook from one of the world’s best bakers dedicates an entire section to those options. Dorie Greenspan has already written 13 books primarily devoted to sweets; she’s won multiple James Beard Awards and been given the Order of Agricultural Merit from the French government for her outstanding food writing.
Baking with Dorie: Sweet, Salty, & Simple ($35; Mariner Books) includes about 150 recipes. There’s a chapter devoted to big and small cakes and another one for pies, tarts, and cobblers for all seasons.
Six of the book’s recipes are specifically for chocolate chip cookies, including a Mary Dodd maple bacon version and a “World Peace Cookies 2.0,” along with the classic.
The caramel chocolate chunk cookies aren’t technically in the dedicated section, but Greenspan believes they deserve a place there. Because they include chunks of chocolate and walnut, “that means that they could rightly be called chocolate chip cookies, though perhaps ones that lived briefly in France,” she writes.
In fact, Greenspan puts these treats in the chocolate chip cookie hall of fame. For one thing, they satisfy almost every category: The treats, the shape of a mini pie, have the crisp edges of a buttery, crumbly shortbread as well as tender-in-the-center texture, with pieces of molten chocolate. “Like so many of my favorite recipes, it’s a surprise,” said Greenspan in a phone interview. She notes that despite the cookie’s name, there’s no caramel in the recipe.
She achieves that cookie synergy by baking the dough in muffin tins, which means it can crisp against the sides of the hot pan. “The butter and sugar almost caramelize, you get bonus flavors. Ordinary ingredients made extraordinary,” she says. Her recipe includes nuts, but those are optional—chocolate fans can add more chunks to the mix instead.
Greenspan notes that even though chocolate chip cookies are in no way seasonal, they are well-suited for this time of year. For one thing, their caramel taste echoes fall. For another, they’re a slice-and-bake cookie. As people get back to welcoming others into their homes, and as entertaining season arrives, it’s helpful to have stored logs of cookie dough ready in a freezer. “Baking at home was a necessity during the pandemic,” says Greenspan. But audiences were limited. “Now is a time of pleasure for bakers. We bake to share. And we have more people to share with.”
The following recipe is adapted from Baking with Dorie: Sweet, Salty, & Simple by Dorie Greenspan.
Tester’s note: You might be tempted to use a baking sheet, but I hope you won’t—the texture is really best in the muffin tins.
Caramel Chocolate Chunk Cookies
Makes 24 cookies
2 sticks (8 oz.) unsalted butter, cut into chunks, at room temperature½ cup sugar½ cup confectioners’ sugar½ teaspoon fine sea salt1 tsp pure vanilla extract2 cups all-purpose flourHeaping ½ cup chunks of dark or milk chocolate or large chipsAbout ½ cup coarsely chopped walnuts, toasted or not, or more chocolate chunks
In a large bowl, beat the butter, both sugars, and the salt together on medium speed until creamy, about 2 minutes. Beat in the vanilla. Add the flour all at once. Pulse a few times, just until the risk of flying flour has passed, and then beat on low speed until the flour is almost completely incorporated. Don’t beat too much—you want the mixture to be more clumpy than smooth. Add the chocolate and nuts, and fold in with a flexible spatula.
Knead the dough if necessary so it comes together. Divide it in half, and shape each hunk into a 6-inch-long log; they will be a scant 2 inches in diameter. Wrap each log in plastic, and refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours. (The logs can be refrigerated for 3 days or frozen for 2 months.)
Preheat the oven to 350F. Butter a muffin tin—two if you have them. Mark one log at ½-inch intervals, then cut into rounds with a chef’s knife, cutting hard through the chips. Place each puck in a muffin cup. Bake for 20 to 22 minutes, until the cookies are browned around the edges and slightly soft in the center. Let the cookies rest for 3 minutes, then gently pry each one out with the tip of a table knife and let cool on a rack. Let the pan cool, then repeat with the remaining log. Serve the cookies warm or at room temperature.
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