I baked up a batch of these beauties recently for a folk dance workshop and their success was measured in moans and swoons. Just the right quota of deep bittersweet morsels and the crunch of toasted walnuts encased in a fragrant, buttery, chewy cookie dough. All of these elements enhanced each other in an intoxicating interplay of flavour and texture, a virtual marriage of disparate parts that synthesized into a unified whole.
I realized, after a thoughtful chew, that the recipe for success in this cookie is essentially balance. You will find a dough sweet enough to titilate but that does not overwhelm the chocolate. There is a certain, special chewiness that feels just right, a small snap with every bite that melds into tenderness. The chocolate must stand up on its own two feet, delicious enough to win praise as it nestles into the crevices of your mouth. You expect a sweet sensation of nuttiness, little nuggets that play off of the silky smoothness of the chocolate. Here, the size of the nuts, their freshness and amount, come into play. Too many is the wrong emphasis. Too few is just wrong.
I subscribe to the school of thought that ordains that a chunk of chocolate is better than a chip. And chunking your own bar of chocolate yields all kinds of extra bonuses - lovely little pieces of course, but also slivers, shavings, dust, all useful in the cookie you are about to build. It all goes in, the dust speckling the dough, the slivers adding small dashes of flavour, and, the part you live for, the chunks, the explosion of chocolate indulgence that elevates this cookie to a realm unattainable by its cousin, the chocolate chip cookie.
From where does this cookie come to me? The one and only David Lebovitz, chocolate guru, ice cream maven, food blogger, essentially the perfect man:
David Lebovitz's Perfectly Balanced Chocolate Chunk Cookies
2+1/2 cups all-purpose flour; 3/4 tsp. baking soda; 1/8 tsp. salt; 1 cup unsalted butter at room temperature; 1 cup light brown sugar; 3/4 cup granulated sugar; 1 tsp. pure vanilla extract; 2 large eggs at room temperature; 2 cups walnuts, coarsely chopped; 14 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped - use the best quality you can get your hands on.
In a small bowl whisk together flour, baking soda and salt. In a stand mixer beat together butter, the two sugars and vanilla and beat on medium speed until smooth. Beat in the eggs one at a time until thoroughly blended. Stir in the flour mixture, nuts and chocolate chunks and mix just until the flour disappears. Chill the dough overnight in the fridge. Preheat oven to 350 F. Form teaspoon sized balls of dough and place them on a parchment lined baking sheet, 2 inches apart. Press down gently on each ball with the palm of your hand to flatten slightly. Bake about 10 minutes or until the cookies are set, very lightly browned in the centres and are still soft.
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