Chocolate chip cookies with flaky sea salt

There is a huge range of chocolate chip cookie recipes out there, and I’ve tried my hand at many of them. I think people have their biases and their preferences, and all of mine happen to align with this particular cookie. There is a place in the world for all the different kinds of cookies, but this particular recipe produces a tried and true version that is soft, chewy, salty, and a little bit pillowy and crinkly, with a serious cookie-dough flavor. It is not crumbly, sandy, or crunchy. These cookies are simple, and they are consistent, and they are addicting. Here are my best tips for perfecting them every time:

  1. Use all room-temperature ingredients if you can. This will require pulling everything from the fridge ahead of time. If you can’t swing this, it’s OK, but I do think it just produces better dough and a better cookie.

  2. Don’t substitute white sugar for brown sugar, unless you want to drastically change the cookie’s texture.

  3. Properly cream the brown sugar and shortening for at least 4-5 minutes. This is what makes the dough light and airy.

  4. Don’t over-bake them! You will think you’ve under-baked them, but you haven’t.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Yields about 24 two-inch cookies
¾ cup Crisco shortening
1¼ cup brown sugar
1 egg
1 T vanilla
2 T milk
1¾ cup flour
½ tsp salt
½ tsp cream of tartar
¾ tsp baking soda
10-12 oz semisweet chocolate chips (I prefer less chocolate chips, but this is a personal choice!)
Fleur de sel or other flaky sea salt for sprinkling on top of each raw cookie
Cooking spray for sheet pans

With the rack positioned in the center of the oven, preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Cream the shortening and brown sugar together for about 5 minutes on medium speed. Meanwhile, in a separate bowl, combine your dry ingredients by whisking together flour, salt, cream of tartar, and baking soda. When the shortening and sugar are properly creamed, add the egg to the creamed mixture, and mix for a few seconds. Then add the vanilla and the milk, mixing slightly after each addition until just combined.  Then, with the mixer on low, slowly pour in the dry ingredients and mix until just combined. Use a spatula to wipe down the sides of the bowl. Sprinkle in the chocolate chips and mix one more time, again using the spatula to fully incorporate if need be.  The key is to not over-mix the dough after the creaming stage.

Drop the dough in 1½ inch mounds onto a prepared/sprayed cookie sheet. It doesn’t matter what size mounds you do, as long as you’re relatively consistent so they cook at the same rate. Sprinkle a few flakes of sea salt onto the top of each cookie. Bake for 8-10 minutes (I think 9 minutes is about perfect) until just set and only the slightest bit golden in parts. Let cool for 5 minutes on cookie tray and then cool completely on a wire rack.