Everything about The Bouchon Bakery cookbook is perfect. It’s the perfect size and weight. The paper choice is thick and easy to thumb through. The photography is mouthwatering. The recipes are frustratingly exact.
The book is simultaneously the most beautiful and intimidating cookbook I’ve ever read. I picked some of the easier recipes in the book for the poll last week and still those had very specific steps and ingredients that almost made me freeze. Not only is every ingredient measured out to the gram, but they also call for very specific chocolates and cocoa powders. To be honest, it can be a bit much for a freakin’ cookie.
After sweating through the recipe once or twice and looking up every gourmet store in the Denver area, I remembered a common phrase that I try to live by in the kitchen: The perfect is the enemy of the good. You can spend days of your life hunting down ingredients and mastering these cookies or you can just make them. As long as you get close, they will be delicious.
No doubt that the original is probably best, but I’m fine with just getting close as long as I’m getting close to perfection.
1) Sift and whisk together flour, baking soda, salt, and cocoa powder in a small bowl.
2) In a separate bowl stir together sugars and molasses. Try to stir out any chunks.
3) In the bowl of a stand mixer, add softened butter and cream until butter is very soft and holds peaks with the paddle attachment. It should almost be the consistency of a thick mayo.
4) Add in sugar mixture and cream together until smooth.
5) Add eggs and mix on low speed for 15-30 seconds. There is no need to completely mix in the eggs.
6) Add the flour ingredients in 2 batches, mixing slowly until just combined.
7) Add chocolate and pulse a few times on low speed to mix in without overmixing.
8) Let dough chill for 30 minutes and preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
9) On baking sheets lined with parchment paper or a Silpat baking sheet, portion out cookies in large balls, 75 grams each. You should get six per sheet.
10) Bake cookies for 16-18 minutes until just set.
11) Let cool before serving. Once cool, you can store these at room temperature for a few days in an airtight container.
Recipe from Bouchon Bakery.
Perfect is the Enemy
Let’s go through the list of things I did NOT do correctly in this recipe:
- I didn’t use the right kind of chocolate. The recipe calls for a very specific kinds: Guittard Cocoa Rouge for the cocoa powder and Valrhona Guanaja 70% for the chunks. I used Ghirardelli for both because it’s what I had and is still very good in my opinion.
- I didn’t use as much chocolate. The original recipe called for a huge amount of chocolate chips and chunks which I would’ve been happy to use. I fell about 40 grams short though and wasn’t going to go out to the store for 40 grams of chocolate.
- I used more butter. The original recipe calls for an annoying 5.9 ounces of butter. I doubled this to 11.8 ounces because I doubled the recipe in general. I just used 12 ounces (1 1/2 cups) of butter because I didn’t want to save .2 ounces of butter.
- I used light brown sugar instead of dark brown sugar.
- I didn’t get the eggs exactly right. Measuring eggs by the gram is freakin’ annoying.
For the chocolate, the recipe recommends both chunks and chips. It actually specifies 3/8” chunks, but I just roughly chopped up a chocolate bar.
Step one for the recipe is to mix all your dry and wet stuff together. For the flour, baking soda, cocoa powder, and salt, just whisk everything together in a medium bowl. I followed the instructions and sifted in the cocoa powder which helps make sure there are no clumps.
In a separate bowl, stir together the sugars and molasses. There is a ton of sugar in these cookies. I double and triple checked the amounts because I thought it was a mistake. It’s pretty hard to stir in the molasses completely. Just do your best.
Starting the Dough
The instructions for these cookies recommends beating the butter with a stand mixer until it’s light and fluffy before adding any other ingredients to it. It should be the consistency of “mayonnaise” and hold peaks. I did this and I must say that it did seem to result in a much nicer final cookie dough.
Once your butter is light and fluffy, you can cream in the sugar mixture. Again, you are looking for a nice light consistency.
I think it’s pretty hard to over-mix the ingredients to this point, but that all changes once you start adding the eggs and flour. Now you want to be very careful not to over-mix.
Add the eggs and stir them just enough to barely combine them. They don’t have to be completely mixed in. Chef Keller warms that over-mixing the eggs could cause the cookies to expand too much and then deflate. It’s possible that this happened to my cookies!
Add the flour ingredients in two batches, again being careful to not overmix them and then stir in the chocolate chips and chunks.
The directions say to chill the dough for 30 minutes before making cookies which seems like a good idea. It makes the dough easier to work with and also helps make sure the flour is hydrated nicely. While the dough chills you can preheat your oven to 325 degrees F.
Making Big Cookies
Chef Keller makes some big cookies. Like… dinner plate sized. The original recipe says to make your cookies weigh 150 grams per cookie! To put that in perspective, that means you would get just six cookies out of one batch of dough. It also means that you can only bake three cookies at a time on a baking sheet.
That’s just insane to me so I made them smaller by half (75 grams). While I was weighing and shaping my cookies and hopefully getting 12 cookies per dough batch, I wondered if Chef Keller accounted for the two entire spoonfuls of dough I ate before making the cookies? Probably not.
I baked my cookies at 325 degrees on a silicon baking sheet for about 17-18 minutes. I think they flattened a bit more then they were supposed to but they still smelled really good.
I let them cool for a few minutes before digging in.
From the pictures in the book, I can tell that mine aren’t exactly the same as the bakery version. They are thinner for sure, but they tasted really good and I kind of liked the crispy edges. They were definitely chocolate-packed which is always good when making chocolate cookies.
I can see why people might get frustrated with this cookbook but I think it’s important to know that it’s okay to adapt the recipes a bit. You might not end up with a perfect end product but it will most likely still be very tasty and better than if you exactly followed a mediocre recipe.
In other words, my cookies didn’t turn out perfect, but they did turn out perfectly good.