I am not one who usually subscribes to the saying that “bigger is always better.”
As another saying goes, “Good things often come in small packages.”
Take my hometown. I grew up in Melvin, a town of about 200 people in northwest Iowa. Back in the 1970s, Melvin had a slogan, “Small, but Mighty,” and we lived it.
The high school sports teams were regulars at the State Tournament, competing with much larger schools from Des Moines and Dubuque. We were told over and over that our smalltown kids were as good as anyone anywhere.
And we believed it.
Nor were we alone. Our culture is filled with praise for all things small.
David always beats Goliath. The Hickory Huskers always beat South Bend Central. The Karate Kid always beats Cobra Kai.
Throw in all of those Hallmark movies where the women always choose the smalltown lumberjack named Jake over the city slicker, and you’ve got a tradition that seems to affirm that notion of “Small, but Mighty.”
Unless it doesn’t, that is.
Americans love big things. We build big houses and drive big cars. Fast-food restaurants tout the size of their burgers with names like “Whopper” and “Big Mac.”
Here in Iowa we regularly stop at roadside attractions that promote “The World’s Biggest Popcorn Ball” (Sac City) or “The State’s Largest Frying Pan” (Brandon).
So, while “Small, but Mighty” may be what we want to believe, “Bigger is Better” is the more appropriate slogan for our country.
Even I can succumb to that sentiment on occasion. Take my love for chocolate chip cookies.
This classic cookie was first created in 1939 by Ruth Wakefield in Whitman, Mass. Since, all sorts of variations have emerged, including my family’s favorite recipe that adds oatmeal and Rice Krispies to the expected chocolate chips.
Other variations out there make the original cookies crisp or chewy. Still, they all have one thing in common: size. Most are somewhere between three and five inches in diameter, and they weigh a couple of ounces, making them perfect for a snack with milk or coffee.
I was perfectly satisfied with such a cookie until years back when we took a trip to New York City. We stopped by a Manhattan bakery known for its massive chocolate chip cookies.
Seriously, these cookies were anything but ordinary. Loaded with chips and nuts, these cookies were not for the faint of heart. They soon became a “must-have” during all subsequent trips to the city.
Strangely, I never thought about trying to recreate those cookies at home. I was content with my cookie recipes, and I didn’t think I needed another.
Over the past two years, however, as the COVID-19 pandemic has made travel a challenge, I have found myself craving those cookies once again. Thus, I turned to the place where we all turn nowadays: The Internet.
Unsurprisingly, I found many sites that claimed to recreate those NYC favorites. The recipe below comes the closest, I think. If you dare try them, however, be aware of a few things.
First, you will not get a lot of cookies from this recipe. One batch equates to exactly eight cookies. Of course, those cookies are massive in size. Still, don’t expect this recipe to make enough cookies for a crowd.
Second, they take two days to make. Most of that time is spent in the refrigerator. The recipe calls for chilling the dough for at least 12 hours or overnight. This is important for several reasons. That resting time gives the liquids time to absorb the flour. It also helps with shaping the dough.
Third, these cookies taste best if served warm. Thus, if you don’t eat them all right away (and who could?), you can reheat them by wrapping them in foil and popping them into a 350-degree oven for a few minutes.
I won’t pretend that this recipe is going to replace my old favorites, which still hold a place in my heart as the best cookies ever. Nevertheless, once in a while when I’m craving a something different and New York remains out of reach, I will whip up a batch of these cookies.
In other words, I can live in a world where David and Goliath can co-exist peacefully.
Jumbo Chocolate Chip Cookies
I found this recipe at the website, Serious Eats.
I made a few slight changes from the original recipe. Serious Eats calls for shaping the dough into balls, wrapping each in plastic and then refrigerating them for 12 hours. I just couldn’t bring myself to waste that much plastic wrap. Thus, I pressed a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the dough in the bowl, and then refrigerated it. I let the bowl sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes before I tried to shape it into individual cookies. Then I refrigerated the shaped dough balls again (while on the baking sheet) while the oven pre-heated. I think they turned out just fine.
- 1 stick of butter, room temperature (½ cup)
- ½ cup brown sugar, firmly packed
- ½ cup white sugar
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt (if you use table salt, cut the amount in half)
- 1¾ teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- Pinch of ground nutmeg
- 2 eggs, room temperature
- 2¼ cups flour
- 15 oz. chocolate chips (I used about 10 oz. of semi-sweet and 5 oz. of milk chocolate to give them a more complex flavor)
- 8½ oz. toasted pecans, chopped (you also can use walnuts)
Combine the first eight ingredients (the butter through the nutmeg) in a mixing bowl. Mix on low to combine, and then raise the speed and mix for another 8 minutes until batter is light and fluffy.
With the mixer running, add the eggs, one at a time. Stop to scrape the sides and bottom of the bowl between eggs. Reduce the speed to low and add the flour, all at once. Once the flour is incorporated, add the chocolate chips and the nuts. Mix until chips and nuts are well-distributed throughout the batter.
Press a piece of plastic wrap directly onto the surface of the dough, and refrigerate for about 12 hours (or up to a day).
The next day, remove the dough from the refrigerator, and let it sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes. While you are waiting, line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
Shape the dough into uniform balls that are roughly 6 oz. each. Put no more than 4 balls of dough onto each pan as the dough will spread in the oven. Refrigerate the shaped dough balls on the baking sheet for about 30 minutes more (or just while the oven is preheating).
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake one sheet of cookies at a time for about 21 minutes (they should be light to medium-brown in color.) Repeat with the second set of cookies.
Cool cookies directly on the baking sheet.