Anthony Underwood is my favorite kind of cook and one of my favorite friends.
He is also the best culinary producer that I have ever worked with, and “behind-the-scenes” famous. When I met him in New York City, he was the lifestyle producer at “Good Morning America.” He then went on to help create “The Chew” on ABC. Now he is a freelance culinary media consultant working on special projects in Los Angeles that include shows with Wolfgang Puck and major food and housewares companies.
As a television producer, he is always asking questions and always researching. His husband, Josh, is an investigative journalist. Naturally, they are both invested in finding out the best of the best.
Luckily for Josh and anyone who is invited to Anthony’s table, this means that the food that he cooks at home is the best of the best. It is well researched, well tested and tweaked until each dish is the best it can be. Josh complements Anthony’s cooking with some of the tastiest cocktails that I have ever drunk. Too good—in fact—because if you have little discipline like me, you keep asking for ‘just one more round’!
This summer I traveled to LA, where they now live, and got to spend time with them which means cooking, eating and drinking together. We were reminiscing about living in New York and their 2011 wedding which was one of the first same-sex weddings in Manhattan. The ceremony was in Madison Square Park and then all 175 guests walked in a parade—complete with noise makers— across Fifth Avenue to the reception at Hill Country Barbecue Market.
After dinner, we moved to the living room to continue the conversation. But soon, Anthony got up and went back to the kitchen. In a couple of minutes, he served us warm-from-the-oven chocolate-chip cookies. But these were not just any chocolate chip cookie. They were the best chocolate chip cookie that I have ever tasted. They were perfect. I especially love the combination of not only two types of chocolate, semi-sweet and 70% bittersweet but also two styles of chocolate—chocolate chips and chocolate baking wafers.
As cooks and food people do when they taste something extraordinary, I had to find out why it was so good, so perfectly balanced—not too sweet, not too buttery, a little salty, not too chocolate-y etc.—and why it was so much better than any other chocolate chip cookie that I had made or bought.
I asked, where did this recipe come from? Little did I know that it was tied to their 10-years of marriage, but it is, and so that night we dubbed them the “10-Year Chocolate Chip Cookie.”
“When my husband, Josh, and I got married in 2011, I began baking Chocolate Chip Cookies at his request. Wanting to find the “perfect” cookie, I began experimenting with recipes as fact-finding missions,” explained Anthony.
“I’ve dabbled with the back of the Toll House bag, browned gallons of butter, slammed baking sheets on my counter (much to my poor dogs’ chagrin), and even gave the $250 Neiman Marcus cookie recipe a spin—oats have no place in a chocolate chip cookie, in my humble opinion.”
He continued, “Finally, after ten years of marriage and cookie analysis, I’ve landed on what I think is my favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe by incorporating my favorite aspects of the recipes I’ve tried. It’s not too fussy (though the dough does require a timeout in the fridge), not too sweet, and always results in emphatic sighs of delight after the first gooey bite.”
To sum it up, “this cookie is chewy and crispy at the edge, and soft and melty in the center—the result of a decade of delicious “research” with my husband, one cookie at a time—OK fine, sometimes two,” finished Anthony.
Anthony was generous enough to give me the recipe, and I now keep the balls of dough in my freezer just like he does so that they are ready whenever a craving hits. I am sharing the recipe because anyone and everyone who has been on the search for the Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie deserves to finally find the answer.
Anthony’s Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies, a.k.a., The 10-Year Chocolate Chip Cookie
Note: I use a cookie scoop that is half the size of the one Anthony uses so that when I have a second cookie, it’s like only having one of Anthony’s giant cookies.
1 ¾ cups unbleached all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 ½ teaspoons instant espresso powder
14 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 ¾ sticks), divided and cut into 1 tbsp pieces
½ cup granulated sugar
¾ cup packed dark brown sugar
1 ½ teaspoons Diamond Crystal kosher salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
½ cup semi-sweet chocolate chips such as Guittard
½ cup dark chocolate (70%) baking wafers/discs (can substitute chopped chocolate from a 70% cacao bar)
¾ cup chopped, toasted walnuts or pecans
Whisk together flour, baking soda, and espresso powder in a medium bowl and set aside.
In a saucepan over medium-high heat, melt 1 stick of butter (8 tablespoons). Continue cooking until butter begins to brown. Swirl pan constantly until butter has foamed and takes on a dark golden brown color and smells nutty. Watch carefully, as it can quickly go from dark to burnt. Carefully pour browned butter into a large heat-proof bowl, scraping all the browned bits from the pan by using a heat-proof spatula.
Immediately whisk the remaining butter pieces into the browned butter, until melted. Add sugars, salt, and vanilla to the bowl, and whisk to fully incorporate.
Add egg and egg yolk and whisk until smooth with no lumps remaining, about 30 seconds. Let mixture stand for 2-3 minutes to let the sugars melt, then whisk for another 30 seconds. Repeat this rest-and-whisk process 3 times, total. Mixture should seem thickened, smooth, and shiny.
Using a spatula, stir in dry ingredients until just combined (and a few flour streaks still remain). Stir in chocolate chips, discs, and nuts until evenly distributed and no flour pockets remain. Refrigerate dough for at least 2 hours, or overnight.
Once dough has chilled, scoop into balls that are slightly bigger than a golf ball. (At this point, I put them on a quarter sheet tray in the freezer, once frozen solid, I transfer them to a resealable freezer bag, so I always have homemade CCC dough at the ready!).
Place cookies 2” apart on baking sheets lined with parchment or a SilPat.
Bake in a pre-heated 375°F for 10-14 mins** until cookies are golden brown and puffy in center, but edges are darker and have set. Transfer cookie sheet to a rack to cool completely (or at least 10 mins if you can wait that long)
**If baking from frozen, let dough balls sit out for 10-20 mins while oven preheats to 350°F and bake for 16-20 mins.
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