July 17, 2008

The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe


I love The New York Times food section, but I have to admit I rarely try the featured dishes. Often, they call for expensive or hard-to-find ingredients or techniques beyond my know-how. And although I'm a foodie -- as in I really like great food -- I prefer to cook simply and cheaply.

So I was pleased to see last week that the paper saw fit to print a story on a venerable American staple: the chocolate chip cookie. Reporter David Leite digs up the story of the cookie, created by Ruth Graves Wakefield in the 1930s at her Toll House Inn, and talks to master bakers about their tips on perfecting the classic recipe.

I tried the recipe Saturday and baked what's likely the best chocolate chip cookies to come out of my oven.

My cookies are often inconsistent: too cakey or too thin. These turned out perfect, perhaps aided by the explicit directions that the butter and sugars should be blended with a mixer for about five minutes, until very light. The recipe on the back of a bag of chips just tells you to "blend" the sugar and fat, so that's what I normally do.

Also, the recipe recommends letting the dough rest in the fridge for at least 24 hours, giving the flour time to absorb the various flavors. I noticed a difference between the first-mixed cookies and those that had rested. The cookies that sat overnight seemed richer and more buttery.

The Times recipe called for semisweet chocolate disks instead of chocolate chips. I couldn't find any at the Publix near my house, but I found some at Peterbrooke and spent $16 on them. Although the chocolate is phenomenal, I have to say I missed the regular cheap morsels. This is an ingredient splurge I will skip next time.

You can check out the recipe at nytimes.com in the dining and wine section. If you try the recipe, or have chocolate chip cookie tips you'd like to share, send them my way.


Always wanted to eat at downtown's University Club but not willing to fork over the $1,000 membership fee? You'll get your chance next month.

Eat Up Downtown returns in August, with 18 restaurants plating up three-courses dinners for $25. This year, University Club, nestled on the 27th floor of Riverplace Tower, will open its doors for the event.

What's on the menu? General Manager Hank Carrico said diners will have three options: Amelia Island Salmon, Chicken Saltimbocca and Veal a la Marsala.

Carrico, who recently returned to the club after working there from 1999 to 2000, said the restaurant decided to participate in Eat Up Downtown to reintroduce itself to the community. It turns out even the exclusive club, which has about 1,600 members, has suffered in the weak economy.

"Certain parts of the industry have declined," he said. "It's affected every restaurant."

The University Club will offer dinner Aug. 20-23. Seating is limited. Make reservations by calling (904) 396-9340.

University Club isn't the only new eatery on the list this year; bb's, Sake House, Cafe 331 and Mongo's Flat Hot Grill are also participating. Most restaurants will be doing the promotion Aug. 18- 24.

Other restaurants signed up for the event are Benny's Steak & Seafood, Bourbon Bayou, Cafe Nola @ MOCA, Chew, Hooters, Juliette's Bistro, Koja Sushi, Plaza III Steakhouse, River City Brewing Company, The Wine Bar -- Southbank, The Wine Cellar, The Twisted Martini and Vito's Italian Cafe.

For more information, go to downtownjacksonville.org


The Monique Burr Foundation, dedicated to child abuse prevention and education, was to hold its sixth annual fundraiser at Roy's in Jacksonville Beach on Tuesday. Chef Roy Yamaguchi, who infuses American and Asian dishes with Hawaiian influence, was expected to cook at the event; executive director Barbara Florio hoped the dinner would top last year's $64,000 raised.

If you couldn't make it for the eats, Roy's will have its fourth annual Island Hop Dinner Tuesday, Aug. 5. Included on the menu will be herb and garlic ahi cassoulet, smoked pork shank and sweet mango butter cake. If you're drinking wine, the meal costs $85. Non- imbibers will be charged $55.

Food: Hawaiian fusion Location: 2400-101 Third St. S., Jacksonville [email protected], (904) 359-4697

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