CHRISTMAS CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES
This recipe has been adapted and refined over the years from the one in the wonderful Joy of Cooking by Irma S. Rombauer and Marion Rombauer Becker. My copy of this cookbook is now battered and well-used after 34 years of marriage. It was a gift from my future in-laws in 1980, the Christmas I got engaged, and it includes not only many favourite family recipes, but cards and birth announcements and lots of notes and mementoes that have been tucked between the pages over the years.
Because of the amount of expensive chocolate in these cookies, we made them only once a year as Christmas gifts from poor newlyweds. Our tradition is to make the first batch on the day of the annual Toronto Santa Claus parade (around mid-November), to officially kick off our Christmas season. We have always given these cookies as gifts to the people we love most, and we horde the last dozen or so in the freezer for as long into the new year as we can bear to wait.
I hope you enjoy these cookies, and you share them with the ones you love. PLEASE READ THROUGH THE WHOLE RECIPE AND MY NOTES before you bake! If you have any questions about my slightly offbeat methods, please feel free to send me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll answer your questions. This is a double batch recipe—because the more cookies, the merrier! It makes about three dozen.
Preheat oven to approximately 325 F, on a convection setting if possible.
1 cup butter
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup white sugar
2 tbsp honey
2 eggs at room temperature
1 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1 cup (plus extra—see notes below) cake and pastry flour
1 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
1 cup chopped pecans (optional)
Chocolate chips (lots) (I love Ghirardelli chips—buy a mix of milk and 60% dark)
Lindt milk chocolate (I use Lindt Swiss Classic Gold Milk Chocolate, 300 g bar)
Lindt excellence dark chocolate bars (Swiss Classic Gold Surfin, 300 g bar)
Chop the chocolate bars into chunks (do this at room temperature). Chill the chunks in the freezer for at least an hour before baking. (This is so the chocolate won’t burn in the oven).
Cream the butter until light and fluffy.
Add the brown sugar and the white sugar and beat until creamy.
Add the vanilla and the eggs, beat well.
Mix together the flours, salt, and baking soda, and stir into the wet ingredients.
Now this part is a bit finicky—add extra flour until the dough is fairly stiff. You should be able to hold a ball of dough in your hand and have it hold together without being too sticky or greasy, but not dry and crumbly. (My apologies for this part—it works by feel for me. Keep reading, and I’ll explain as we go…)
Add the chocolate to the dough— stir in a handful or two of the chopped Lindt chocolate from the freezer, and a generous amount of the chocolate chips.
Drop spoonfuls of the dough onto a lightly greased cookie sheet, well apart (about a tablespoonful for each—these are rich cookies, so don’t go too big).
You may want to try baking two or three cookies to check the quantity
of flour—if they spread like mad, then add another few spoonfuls of flour to the
dough and mix well. They should spread slightly in the oven, but hold a nice thick, rumpled shape.
Before putting the cookies into the oven, stud the top of each raw cookie with more frozen chocolate chunks (and extra nuts if you’re using them). This makes them look beautiful, utterly magical, and irresistibly delicious. This is why you freeze the chocolate first—so it doesn’t burn. From frozen it simply melts a bit.
BAKING NOTES: Bake the cookies for 7-10 minutes, until they’re lightly browned but still soft. I have made this recipe in Toronto, Ottawa, and here in Calgary. Each oven and each city’s altitude meant making a slight adjustment to time and temperature. The perfect time and temperature here in Alberta is 335 F for 7 ½ minutes. The Joy of Cooking recommends 375F for 10 minutes, but my version has some extra sugar in the recipe, and all that chocolate, so watch carefully that the cookies don’t burn! I make mine so they’re slightly soft and cake-like in the middle, but if you prefer them crispy, then bake them a little longer, or leave out the extra flour and let them spread.
Take them off the baking sheet and cool on a wire rack. Careful—the molten chocolate is HOT!!
Enjoy warm or frozen—they’ll keep several months in the freezer.
The basic dough lends itself to all kinds of creative possibilities. These are some of our favourite combinations:
• Lindt White Chocolate chunks and pecans
• White chocolate and dried cherries
• Dark chocolate chips and lemon zest
• Candied almonds or other nuts