Salted chocolate chip cookies are a grown-up take on a classic.
Hello, everyone! This is my first post, and it has been in the making for longer than I’d care to admit.
(Jump to Recipe)
The business and routine of everyday life has a way of numbing us, making us forget what is really important to us or why we are doing what we do in the first place. Once you get far enough along a certain path, it becomes harder and harder to remember that other paths exist and that they may be just as safe and secure, and possibly better for us, than the known borders of the one we currently walk. The fear of the unknown is strong. Adding to that fear are the expectations of family, friends, colleagues, and acquaintances who, despite their good intentions, help to build the perceived walls around us.
For as long as I can remember, my passion has been baking. Baking is what I do when I’m happy, when I’m sad, when I’m stressed, when I’m procrastinating, or when I want to feel productive. Baking is what I do when it’s someone’s birthday, when they get a job, when they get dumped, when they invite me to a party, when they need a hug, when I want to tell them I love them, or when I just want to let them know I am thinking about them. I keep running lists of my family members’, friends’ and colleagues’ favorite baked goods so I can pull them out at a moment’s notice. Thus far, however, it has been only an extracurricular activity – something I did in my spare time to distract myself from the monotony and drudgery of what I did the majority of the time as a lawyer.
There is a well-known poem by Langston Hughes called “Harlem” that has always struck a chord with me, since I first read it in middle school. Reading it then, I felt sad for the author and his contemporaries, for he wrote about a people whose dreams had been deferred by their unfortunate circumstances in life. I never considered the possibility that the same thing might happen to me, in a perverse and opposite way. I felt compelled, because of the opportunities I’ve been given in life, to pursue a highly regarded career as an attorney. I thought I could make a difference in the world; maybe help some people. But my first job out of law school at a big law firm made me miserable. A year and a half in, I felt as though I had lost myself, and all I did was work all the time. I felt stuck. I don’t presume to know what the people in Mr. Hughes’s poem were going through, but I can resonate with their feelings of hopelessness and lost potential.
Well, I finally quit my job at that firm, and now my dreams will be deferred no longer. They will not “dry up like a raisin in the sun.” This is my place to share what makes me happy, and hopefully it will touch your life in some small way as well. I think food has the power to bring people together, to create compassion instead of hate, and to bring joy to the lives of others. We all need more of that right now.
In what feels like another time (really, just the 90s), my third grade teacher had a brilliant reward system for getting her students to prepare for their spelling tests: if everyone received an A on a test, she would bake the whole class chocolate chip cookies. These were no ordinary, back-of-the-Toll-House-bag chocolate chip cookies; these were magical. Soft, chewy, slightly salty, sweet, not cakey at all. We adored them – and had a record number of A’s that year.
I had the great fortune of learning to bake these cookies with her, and now I will share the recipe with you. It was the first recipe that I learned to bake on my own, and it’s one I return to over and over again. Happy baking!
Chocolate Chip Cookies with Sea Salt
- 1 cup unsalted butter (2 sticks), softened
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup brown sugar
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 large egg
- 1 tbsp water
- 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (can also use white whole wheat)
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (or chopped chocolate)
- Coarse sea salt, for sprinkling (optional)
- Preheat your oven to 375 degrees F.
- In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together butter and both sugars on high speed until pale and fully combined (2-3 minutes). Use a spatula to scrape down the sides as necessary.
- Add the egg, vanilla, and water, and beat another minute on medium speed until fully combined.
- Add the flour, baking soda, and salt (I recommend adding the flour one cup at a time to avoid a mess) and beat on LOW speed until just combined. Do not over-beat or your cookies will spread too much!
- Fold in the chocolate chips with a spatula until evenly distributed.
- Place dough in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. This prevents over-spreading!
- Drop dough by rounded tablespoons onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper (I usually do 1 dozen per sheet). Sprinkle each cookie mound with a pinch of coarse sea salt!
- Bake for 10 minutes, or until golden brown. Cook on baking sheet for 5 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.