What is something you must do/see/taste/experience when you travel?
Would you rather…
Have an outrageous experience with people you’ve never met or a new adventure with someone you already know and love? Score reservations to the hottest restaurant in town or discover new and unusual flavors in the local street food? Fill your day with educational tours to learn about the history of your destination or spend hours shopping at famous markets and plazas?
…all or none of the above?
For me, traveling is all about getting lost in the local culture — which is sort of the same way I feel about reading. Call me a romantic but I love the feeling of being completely immersed in a world that is markedly different from my own and imagining what my life would/could be like if I lived there.
Some of my favorite travel experiences include wandering down a cobblestone path and curling up in a quiet cafe with a cappuccino and a book; hiking to a remote beach on an overcast day and dipping my toes into an icy cold, foreign body of water; savoring meals that begin at dusk and continue until the sky is black; dancing all night in a bohemian artist district and walking home barefoot as the sun peeks over the horizon.
So, please tell me, because I am truly curious: why do you travel? What are some of your favorite travel experiences?
I thought about using the original chocolate chip cookie recipe, developed by Ruth Wakefield at the Toll House Inn, but I’ve had those cookies a million times (the recipe is on the back of the Nestle Chocolate Chips bag) and I really am not so crazy about them. My second choice was The New York Times’ famous chocolate chip recipe, which changed the whole cookie game when it was published in 2009, but one glance showed me that the recipe’s dependence on particular flours (cake and bread flour) would throw off my own flour experiment.
And that is when I landed upon America’s Test Kitchen’s “Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie” recipe. I consider myself to be a cookie connoisseur so when someone says they have developed “the perfect chocolate chip cookie” I do not take that shit lightly. As the mission of America’s Test Kitchen is to to develop the absolute best recipes for all of your favorite foods, however, I knew this was exactly what I was searching for.
The ingredients are different from any other chocolate chip cookie recipe I’ve followed (for example, it includes one whole egg and one egg yolk). And the entire process was very exact, like how you had to brown the butter so that it would caramelize before incorporating it into the recipe. I especially loved the part where I had to whisk for 30 seconds and then wait for three minutes, whisk for 30 seconds and then wait for three minutes, whisk for 30 seconds and then wait for three minutes, whisk for 30 seconds and then wait for three minutes. Hahah really…
I ain’t complainin’ though. The resulting cookies blew my mind. They had an intense caramel flavor from the browned butter, a dangerously high ratio of chocolate to cookie and the perfect amount of salt to balance out the sweet. And trust me when I say, they’re even better the next day (if you can stand to wait).
So if you think you’ve perfected the chocolate chip cookie, you might want to think again.
America’s Test Kitchen’s Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie
1 ¾ cups unbleached all-purpose flour (8 ¾ ounces) ****Arrowhead Mills GF All Purpose Baking Mix, King Arthur's GF All Purpose Baking Mix and Bob's Red Mill 1:1 GF Flour substitute PERFECTLY***
½ tsp. baking soda
14 Tbsp. unsalted butter (1 ¾ sticks)
½ cup granulated sugar (3 ½ ounces)
¾ cups packed dark brown sugar (5 ¼ ounces)
1 tsp. table salt
2 tsps. vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 ¼ cups semisweet chocolate chips or chunks
¾ cup chopped pecans or walnuts, toasted (optional)
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and place the oven rack in the middle position. Line 2 large (18×12 inch) baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
Whisk flour and baking soda together in medium bowl and set aside.
Heat 10 tablespoons of the butter in 10-inch skillet (if possible, do not use nonstick) over medium-high heat until melted, about 2 minutes. Continue cooking, swirling pan constantly until butter is dark golden brown and has nutty aroma, 1 to 3 minutes.
Remove skillet from heat and, using heatproof spatula, transfer browned butter to large heatproof bowl. Stir remaining 4 tablespoons butter into hot butter until completely melted.
Add both sugars, salt, and vanilla to bowl with butter and whisk until fully incorporated. Add egg and yolk and whisk until mixture is smooth with no sugar lumps remaining, about 30 seconds. Let mixture stand 3 minutes, then whisk for 30 seconds. Repeat process of resting and whisking 2 more times until mixture is thick, smooth, and shiny.
Using rubber spatula or wooden spoon, stir in flour mixture until just combined, about 1 minute. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts (if using), giving dough final stir to ensure no flour pockets remain.
Divide dough into 16 portions, each about 3 tablespoons. Arrange 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets, 8 dough balls per sheet. Smaller baking sheets can be used, but will require 3 batches.
Bake cookies 1 tray at a time until cookies are golden brown and still puffy, and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft, 10 to 14 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking.
Transfer baking sheet to wire rack; cool cookies completely before serving.