Is there anything more comforting than a homemade chocolate chip cookie? Every time I make them I can’t help but remember getting so excited for them to come out of the oven as a little kid — peering over at them while they cooled on the counter; knowing they were too soft to eat yet and would surely crumble in my hands and burn my little fingers.
But I’m a firm believer that it is totally appropriate to spin your childhood faves in order to suit your now more mature palate. Some may cry sacrilege, but I cry progress! I cry innovation! I cry milk powder and flaky sea salt!
Okay, I hear you — what the hell is milk powder and why do I have the sinking feeling you’re putting it in the cookies. I know, it sounds…strange. But milk powder is one of the secrets of professional bakers — it adds a wonderfully subtle toasty milk flavor to all sorts of baked goods, but it also provides chewiness when you add it to cookies. And what could be wrong with that when our mission is chocolate chip cookies? Absolutely nothing, says Christina Tosi. And I agree with her wholeheartedly.
You may know Tosi from TV these days, but she’s always been the bad-ass baker behind Milk Bar; and her second cookbook, Milk Bar Life, features her take on a more casual chocolate chip cookie. We’ll be taking the lead from this recipe for the base of our cookie, but incorporating a method for achieving a more complex flavor in the final result: drastically cutting down the amount of salt in the cookie dough (if not leaving it out entirely) in favor of hitting the top of the unbaked cookies with sea salt before sliding them into the oven. The result is not your grandmother’s chocolate chip cookie, but she seems like a cool lady and I think she’d approve all the same.
Chocolate Chip Cookies with Sea Salt
Adapted from Milk Bar Life
2 sticks unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 ¼ cups light brown sugar
1 large egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 ¾ cups all-purpose flour
2 tablespoons nonfat milk powder
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon baking soda
1 12 oz bag semisweet chocolate chips
Flaky sea salt, for topping the cookies
Preheat your oven to 375°F. In the bowl of your stand mixer (or in a large mixing bowl with electric beaters), cream together the butter and sugars for about 3 minutes, until fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla and beat until combined.
Add the flour, milk powder, salt, baking powder and baking soda and stir until just combined. Add the chocolate chips and stir until evenly combined.
Line 2 baking sheets with a sil-pat if you have one, or foil if you don’t. Scoop the cookies in 1.5 tablespoon amounts (or a size 40 scoop) a few inches apart on the baking sheet. Before placing the pans in the oven, place a few grains of sea salt on top of each cookie dough round. Bake for 5 minutes, then rotate the pans: up and down and side to side. Bake another 5-6 minutes, or until just golden brown on the edges. Place the pans on wire racks to cool completely.
Makes about 18 cookies