I have been on a perpetual quest to find the best recipe for chocolate chip cookies.
Ive tried everything. Milk chocolate, semi-sweet chocolate and bittersweet chocolate. Chips and chunks. Chilled dough and room temperature dough. Sifted dry ingredients and not sifted. Recipes on the back of bags of chocolate chips and fancy pastry chefs recipes.
Each attempt turned out fine but not great cookies. Until now.
I have the recipe for the most wonderful chocolate chip cookies I have ever encountered, thanks to David Fowle, owner of the Wilmoore Cafe, a coffeehouse and sandwich shop that closed last month in downtown Raleigh.
The very personable Fowle sold these cookies at his coffee shop, where I was a frequent customer. I love these cookies. They are soft in the middle and crisp on the outside and have this inexplicable interior layer of chocolate.
When Fowle announced last month that his cafe was being sold to chef Ashley Christensen, I realized my opportunity to learn his cookie-making technique would soon vanish. So I spent a half-hour in Fowles kitchen, learning his technique and hearing the story of his recipe.
In the spring of 2008, Fowle, his wife and two daughters took a vacation to New York City. While his older daughter and wife attended a class at a famous dance studio, Fowle and his youngest daughter went to the nearby Levain Bakery in Manhattans Upper West Side.
I spent $20 for four or five cookies, but it was worth it, Fowle said.
A few months later, The New York Times published a story about how to make better chocolate chip cookies based on the tricks of bakers throughout the city, including Jacques Torres, aka Mr. Chocolate, and the Levain Bakery. The key, food writer David Leite discovered, is letting the dough sit in the refrigerator between one to three days before baking. The longer the dough sits, the more complex and flavorful the cookie becomes once baked.
Fowle, who estimates he has made 8,000 of these cookies at home and at the coffee shop, agrees: It just gets better on the next day.
Fowl adapted the recipe that appeared in The Times, replacing the mix of cake and bread flour with all-purpose flour, tweaking the amount of the sugars and butter and reducing the amount of chocolate chips from 1 1/4 pounds to a pound.
About the latter change, Fowle said, I cant use that much. Its too much and Im a chocolate head.
For special occasions, Fowle suggest buying E. Guittard chocolate, which costs $10 a pound at Fresh Market. The E. Guittard chocolate discs melt to create that mysterious core layer of chocolate inside the cookie. When this stuff cooks up, its like a layer of earth, Fowle said.
I agree that its amazing and worth the splurge for at least one batch.
While Ill miss my conversations with Fowle across the coffee counter and hope he one day returns to the coffee business downtown, I will never have to miss his cookies.
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