No matter the stresses that come our way, Eric and I try our best to find little things each night to end on a bright note. We’ve become avid viewers of Wheel of Fortune and Jeopardy, two shows that always remain light and invite us to interact with one another while also decompressing. While we watch, we’ll often scream out whatever we think the answer is. Sometimes we’re correct and we’ll congratulate one another. When we’re not, we laugh at our silly guesses. It’s a little bit of joy to end our day.
Most weeknights, after a glass of wine with dinner and before a nightcap of whiskey, Eric and I will pour mugs of tea and cozy up on the couch together. I bring out something sweet to nibble on, typically cookies or cake or one of the many other treats tucked in our freezer.
Now, I know everyone has strong feelings about chocolate chip cookies and, for me, I’m looking for a few things. One, they need to have a decent amount of salt. Salt and chocolate are meant to go together and if my cookies don’t have a pronounced saltiness, then they really won’t do much for me. Next, I’m looking for crunch and chew. Crispy outside, chewy inside. When I stumbled across this recipe from Amanda Hesser, I knew I had to give it a try. And oh have they delivered. I’ve made these a few times over the last couple of months and they truly hit the spot.
While I don’t mind nuts in my baked goods, there are people out there (I won’t name names) who are not fans and when you’re under quarantine with such an individual, sometimes you have to concede. The first time I made the recipe as is, with toasted walnuts, and I got a few comments (that person, however, continued to eat them for many weeks, so I guess they could get over it). For the next batch, I decided to use up some dried tart cherries we had tucked in our cabinet and I really feel like it brought these cookies to a whole new place. Just like salt, a little sourness pairs magically with chocolate. Anyway, I think it’s the perfect balance. Of course, you do you… add other things or leave them out. No matter what, these cookies won’t disappoint.
Amanda Hesser’s Flat and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies (with Dried Cherries)
Slightly modified from Amanda Hesser’s recipe in The New York Times
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 ¼ teaspoons baking soda
1 tablespoon kosher salt
8 ounces butter, softened
1 ½ cups packed light brown sugar
¼ cup sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
2 cups chopped bittersweet chocolate (chunks and shavings) (Or, if all you have are chocolate chips, those work just fine)
3/4 cup dried dark sour cherries (unsweetened)
Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt. In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment (or, alternatively, this can be done using a hand mixer), blend together the butter and both sugars until fluffy, approximately 3 minutes. Add the eggs in one at a time, mixing until thoroughly incorporated, followed by the vanilla extract.
Carefully pour in the flour mixture and mix until a dough has formed. Using a wooden spoon or rubber spatula, spoon in the chocolate and dried cherries. Transfer the dough to the refrigerator and let chill for 1 hour.
Set racks to the top 1/3 and bottom 1/3 of the oven. Preheat to 325 degrees.
Roll 2 1/2 tablespoons of the dough into balls and place on the prepared baking sheets. Flatten the dough into 1/2 inch thick disks and make sure they’re 2 inches apart. Bake in the oven for 14-16 minutes, swapping racks halfway through bake time.
Remove from oven and let the cookies cool on baking sheets for 10 minutes before transferring to baking racks.