It’s the end of summer. It’s almost fall. Autumn. The kiddies are going back to school soon. It’s about to be my favorite season.
Aaannnnndd I’m wishing I were on vacation. Somewhere north. In a cabin. By a lake. With my dogs, a boat and a campfire.
Sometimes I build a little fire in our fire pit out back. I close my eyes and try to ignore the sound of the highway just feet from our backyard and pretend I’m in the middle of nowhere. It almost works. Almost.
Every year around this time I long for the north woods. For as long as I can remember my family has gone to northern Wisconsin for a week in August. Being a grown up with a job and responsibilities has made that trip impossible for me the past couple of years. I have fond memories of running around in a bathing suit, covered in sand, playing until I felt as though I might collapse. We would go to the local bookstore and would each get to pick out a book for the week that I would devour hungrily at the end of the day. I remember eating spaghettios and corn, cream of wild rice soup and hamburgers. And of course at the end of the day, when it finally started to get dark, there would be marshmallows, s’mores and pudgy pies. It was heaven to a small child. I remember crying on the car ride home, year after year, having to leave my friends, knowing school was starting soon and I had to go back to real life. It was a magical place and time, and I often get reminded of it this time of year.
In my quest for comfort, I decided to fill the void with cookies. I have, for quite some time, been trying to perfect the chocolate chip cookie. I knew this somehow involved more brown sugar then white, and a difference in butter and egg ratio.
Being slightly obsessed with toffee lately and having homemade toffee bits, that I desperately wanted to put into a chocolate chip cookie, I went in search of the perfect recipe. I buy cookies from Ethel Ann’s every Saturday at the farmers market that come ridiculously close to perfect, and wanted to attempt the same. When Alton Brown and Joy the Baker both agreed on the same recipe, I knew I had found the right one. I tweaked it here and there, but pretty much stuck with the straight science of it.
These cookies may just be the best cookies I have made to date. They’re soft and chewy. The toffee adds a bit of crunch and caramel like depth. They’re dense, but not heavy. I made 18 of these on Saturday night and my husband, his cousin and best friend devoured them before I could even blink. I’m pretty sure my husband did most of the damage. He has a problem with cookies.
There are a few key things to know about this recipe, and cookie making in general. Cool that dough! Once you’ve made your cookie dough, into the fridge it goes, for at least 30 minutes, longer if you have the time. This allows the butter to solidify again and creates steam inside the cookie while baking. It is what helps the cookies stay soft and chewy, not thin and crispy.
These cookies are also slightly unpredictable. I used homemade toffee, as should you, but it makes for slightly irregularly shaped cookies. This toffee has no stabilizers or preservatives so when it heats up and melts, it doesn’t always stay in a neat little package. It’s ok, those strangely shaped cookies, are still delicious, and the toffee that ‘s spread out, has become so thin and crisp and light, it’s amazing.
These cookies hold up well too. All too often, cookies come out of the oven beautifully, yet once completely cooled, they are hard, dried, shells of what they used to be. Not these. They stay moist and chewy and delicious. You need some milk on hand for these.
Cookies, alas, are not the vacation I so desperately need and want, they are however a good enough substitute. Comfort in a small, sugary, chocolaty package.
Chocolate Chip Toffee Cookies
Recipe adapted from Alton Brown
2 sticks unsalted butter
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 cup sugar
1 1/4 cups brown sugar
1 egg yolk
2 tablespoons milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup toffee bits
1. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Melt the butter in a heavy-bottom medium saucepan over low heat. Sift together the flour, salt, and baking soda and set aside.
2. Pour the melted butter into a mixing bowl. Add the sugar and brown sugar. Cream the butter and sugars on medium speed. Add the egg, yolk, 2 tablespoons milk and vanilla extract and mix until well combined. Slowly incorporate the flour mixture until thoroughly combined. Stir in the chocolate chips and toffee bits.
3. Chill the dough, then scoop onto parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake for 8 minutes or until golden brown, checking the cookies after 5 minutes.