High Altitude Baking: Go-big chocolate chip cookie (recipe)
July 2, 2016
Editor's note: High altitude makes cookies spread in the pan, cakes fall and few baked goods turn out as they do at sea level. This twice-monthly column presents recipes and tips that make baking in the mountains successful.
A winner — that's the best description of this oversized chocolate chipper. You take the dough for America's favorite cookie and bake it in a pan, so it has all the tastes and textures everyone loves, but it's a bit fancier … a dessert rather than a snack.
Serve slices warm with ice cream and chocolate sauce, and you can't miss. It's even easier to make than its smaller counterparts and a perfect alternative at our altitude, where drop cookies encounter numerous problems. It's an absolute gem, I promise you.
Use fresh brown sugar and high-quality chocolate chips, and be sure to mix the dough gently once the flour is added. And, most importantly, don't overbake. You want the cookie to be soft and chewy.
Go-big chocolate chip cookie
(Adjusted for altitudes of 7,900 feet and higher. Make in a 9½-inch springform or cake pan.)
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1 cup plus 1 tablespoon bleached, all-purpose flour (spoon and level)
Scant ¼ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon kosher salt
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
1/3 cup superfine granulated sugar, preferably Baker's
½ cup packed dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1¼ teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees with a rack in the center position. If using a springform pan, unlock it, flip the bottom over, so the lip faces down, and re-lock the pan. This will make removing or cutting the cookie easier. Grease the pan with a vegetable oil-flour spray. Set aside. Whisk the flour, baking soda and salt in a small bowl or two-cup measure until blended. Set aside.
Cut up the butter, and put it, with the two sugars, in a mixing bowl; beat until blended and light using an electric mixer or wooden spoon. Add the egg and vanilla, and beat again to combine. In three additions, stir in the flour mixture (don't beat; stir only until the flour is absorbed into the dough after each addition), and finally, stir in the chocolate chips. You may find it easier to gently knead the chips into the dough with wet hands; wetting your hands will keep the dough from sticking to them. Make sure the chips are evenly distributed throughout the dough.
Dump the dough into the prepared pan, level it, and smooth the top. I do this by pressing the dough through a sheet of plastic wrap and smoothing the top with the back of a spoon dipped in cool water.
Bake only until the cookie is golden and the center is set but soft, 18 to 20 minutes. Take care, as overbaking will ruin the texture. As it bakes, the edges of the cookie may rise higher than the center. If this happens, gently press them down with the back of a spoon.
Let the cookie cool for 15 minutes, and then remove the sides of the springform pan. If baked in a cake pan, let cool for 20 to 30 minutes, invert and remove the cookie, and re-invert so the top is up. The cookie can be wrapped airtight and stored for three days at cool room temperature or frozen for a month. Slice it into serving pieces, and warm them in a 325-degree oven or a microwave. If using as a dessert, serve with ice cream and chocolate sauce.
Vera Dawson, author of the high-altitude cookbooks "Baking Above It All" and "Cookies in the Clouds" (available at The Bookworm of Edwards) is a chef instructor with Colorado Mountain College's Culinary Institute. Her recipes have been tested in her Summit County kitchen and, whenever necessary, altered until they work at our altitude. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.