The Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie Technique
Baking & Pastry Arts Chef-Instructor Penny Stankiewicz shares how to smoke butter and salt like a pro.
There is no best chocolate chip cookie — there is only opinion. I have lots of strongly held opinions on most baked goods and for me, the perfect chocolate chip cookie is big, huge really; it’s loaded with chocolate; crispy on the outside and chewy in the middle; salty, very salty; and satisfying. If you want to get a bit fancy, and I always do, pull your smoking gun out and get ready to go.
I love smoking foods. Sometimes, the technique adds a punch of smoky outdoors, cooked-all-day kind of flavor, and sometimes in baked goods, it adds a savory note that raises the level of overall nuanced flavor. In this chocolate chip cookie recipe, the smoking adds both. First, the melted butter is smoked to enhance the savory aspects of the cookie and second, the finishing salt is smoked to top it off with that essence of wood smoke, the first thing that hits your palate.
I adore the Breville Smoking Gun for its versatility and ability to smoke almost anything, indoors and at a moment’s notice. Smoking works best with things that are fatty or protein-rich to hold onto that flavor. Smoking an ingredient with a large surface area is key, too. The smoke is not going to penetrate very far, so to get the most flavor, spread the ingredient out to create as much surface area as possible.
Melted butter is one of the secrets in my cookie that lends a chewy interior. To smoke it, place it in the largest container you have that will give you as much surface area as possible. Wrap the entire container in plastic wrap vertically and horizontally, as tightly as possible to contain the smoke. I also like to wrap packing tape around the top edge of the container to discourage seepage. I poke a small hole in the top of the plastic wrap with a paring knife, just large enough to fit the tube of the smoking gun through and then tape that well to keep smoke from seeping there.
Fill the chamber of the Breville Smoking Gun with a wood chip of your choice. I prefer rich, hearty woods like mesquite or hickory. Fruit woods are great, but a bit too delicate to come through in this recipe. Turn the gun on, light it up and let the container fill with smoke. I let this sit for about 20 minutes and then give it a second blast of smoke for another 20 minutes. I follow the same procedure for the Maldon salt, but considering it’s all surface area, this will go much faster. You’ll notice a bit of browning or change of color when the smoke has penetrated the salt.
Then go ahead and make this amazing cookie. Use an ice cream scoop to dish them out and freeze them for 24 hours. I use a 3-ounce portion scoop to get my huge cookies. You can use whatever size you like, but this will alter cooking time and really small cookies will end up more on the crunchy side. After the dough scoops are frozen, transfer to a ziplock bag and keep them in your freezer until you are craving a cookie. Then transfer each to a sheet tray lined with parchment, with a good amount of space around each cookie to accommodate for spread. Top each with some of the smoked salt and bake.
Another opinion: This is a great opportunity to break out your favorite scotch or whiskey to accompany this mature, refined treat.
Watch Chef Penny demonstrate her technique for Epicurious and get the complete recipe below.
Yields approximately 24 cookies
- 12 ounces white sugar
- 9 ounces light brown sugar
- 12 ounces melted butter
- 22 ounces all-purpose flour
- 1½ teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 vanilla bean
- 2 large eggs
- 2 egg yolks
- 16 ounces high-quality semi-sweet chocolate
- Maldon Sea Salt for topping
- Melt butter, and smoke it according to the description above. Make sure to cool to room temperature before mixing batter. While you’re at it, smoke the Maldon Sea Salt as well.
- Combine baking powder, baking soda, salt and flour in a bowl. Whisk together to evenly distribute the leavening.
- In the bowl of a standing mixer, combine both sugars with the cooled melted butter. Mix on low speed with the paddle attachment until fully combined.
- Add eggs, yolks and vanilla and mix until combined.
- Add the dry ingredients in two or three additions. Mix only until the dry ingredients are incorporated. Add chocolate pieces and mix just until spread throughout.
- Using a 3-ounce scoop, scoop the dough onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Chill, or even better freeze for 24 hours, on the sheet or transfer to a freezer bag for longer-term storage.
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees.
- Place frozen scooped cookies onto a parchment-lined sheet pan with at least two inches of space all around them.
- Top with smoked Maldon Sea Salt.
- Bake until golden brown, and the center of the cookie looks set and no longer wet. About 23-28 minutes for 3-ounce frozen dough balls. Less baking time will be needed if baking from refrigerated, fresh or smaller-sized cookies.
Study Pastry & Baking Arts with Chef Penny and more pros at the Institute of Culinary Education.
Submitted by Rick on October 24, 2018 3:38pm
The choc chip cookies described above were absolutely mind bendingly delicious to me!!!!!!!
Submitted by Jeremy Edlind on December 6, 2018 6:45pm
I’m on a brown butter kick. Would you recommend smoking brown butter? Let me know if you think it a good idea or not.
Submitted by aday on March 20, 2019 9:48am
"I don't think I would bother to smoke brown butter. It already has a super nutty flavor, and I don't think you'd accomplish much more for the efforts." — Chef Penny
Submitted by Hayden on December 23, 2018 9:18pm
i was so excited to find this recipe! I can’t wait to try it out
Submitted by Jean-Sébastien Paré on January 28, 2019 6:23pm
If I don't have a smoking gun, can I use liquid smoke instead? If I can, how much should I put in? I know liquid smoke have a very strong taste so I need to be careful with it.
It's intense, but you can try
Submitted by aday on March 20, 2019 9:50am
"Liquid smoke is pretty intense and would put a bit of a harsh flavor on the cookies. The final flavor with the smoke is just a touch of savory, and I think that the intensity of the liquid smoke would take it a bit too far. But I'm always up for a good experiment, so let me know if you try it!" — Chef Penny
Quality of flour?
Submitted by Dan on February 5, 2019 1:40am
I'm trying to replicate this amazing recipe but so far I'm having a bit of trouble with the actual baking. I followed it all to a note several times but my cookies seem to turn out thin, not rising that much, and even lacking in color, even when I let them go past their prime baking time, which makes them extremely crispy all over.
All ingredients are fresh and weighed. Could this be something to do with the quality of my flour, maybe its gluten content, or simply a matter of playing around with temperatures?
Is the dough chilled and fully mixed?
Submitted by aday on March 20, 2019 9:53am
"I have used several kinds of flour with them successfully. If they turn out thin, I'm wondering if you're baking them from chilled dough or right away? It's possible that they are not fully mixed and this would provide spread? It's super hard to guess without more info, but the flour shouldn't really be a factor." — Chef Penny
Submitted by Yasmin on April 15, 2019 4:13pm
I bought the Breville Smoking Gun Pro because of you Penny! But now I'm wondering what speed I should us for smoking the butter, somewhere in the middle?
Don't have a smoker
Submitted by Rachel on April 23, 2019 2:10pm
I don't have a smoker, and I don't want to spend $100 on one just to make cookies. Would brown butter work just as well for this as smoked butter for these cookies?
Also, if I cannot find reasonably priced couverture chocolate, are there any other brands you would recommend?
Cooking Temperature Confusion
Submitted by Joshua on April 28, 2019 10:59pm
On the youtube video you say you bake them at 275 degrees but the recipe says 300?
Just wondering which is correct.
Gluten free question
Submitted by Grant on June 18, 2019 4:50pm
This recipe looks amazing and thankyou so much for sharing. I was hoping to make a gluten free version as my mother is celiac. Would GF rice flower work with xantham gum?
Submitted by Chief on June 25, 2019 1:21am
in the video you said 4oz disher, in the instructions you say 3oz disher. How much should each cookie weigh prior to baking?
Cookie weight and cooking temp
Submitted by Chief on June 25, 2019 1:27am
in the video you say 4oz scoop, in instructions you say 3oz scoop. Which is it? How much should the cookie weigh prior to cooking?
in the video you say bake at 275, in instructions you say 300. Which is correct?
Submitted by Robert on July 21, 2019 8:14pm
Which brand of chocolate wafers do you use that are 74%?
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