Chocolate Chip Cookies

Positively, the absolute best chocolate chip cookies

These cookies have a good taste. The final product has sufficient air pockets to give it a decent ability to soak up milk. This is an important quality that is often overlooked in judging cookies. I've tasted better Chocolate Chip cookies, (I fondly remember some at the USC coffee house) but this is the closest recipe I have found to the "ultimate" Chocolate Chip Cookie.

from Maida Heatter's Book of Great Chocolate Desserts.

8 ounces (2 sticks) sweet butter (room temperature)
1 teaspoon salt
1 teaspool vanilla extract
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
2 eggs (graded large or extra-large)
2.25 cups unsifted all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon hot water
8 ounces (2 generous cups) walnuts (I prefer pecans),
cut or broken into medium-size pieces
12 ounces (2 cups) semisweet chocolate morsels.

Adjust two racks to divide the oven into thirds and preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

Cookie sheet : Use the "air" cookie sheets. The cookie sheets that are made of two layers of aluminum with an air gap in between. They are available at better cooking stores (Jordano's, William-Sonoma)

You can butter the cookie sheets directly, or cover them with aluminum foil and then butter the foil.

In the large bowl of an electric mixer, cream the butter. Add the salt, vanilla, and both sugars and beat well. Add the eggs and beat well. On low speed, add about half the flour and, scraping the bowl with a rubber spatula, beat only until incorporated. In a small cup, stir the baking soda into the hot water to dissolve it (Add another teaspoon of hot water if necessary) . Then mix it into the dough. Add the remaining flour and beat only to mix.

Remove the bowl from the mixer and stir in the nuts and the chocolate morsels.

Spread out a large piece of wax paper on the counter next to the sink. Use a rounded teaspoonful of the dough for each cookie and place the mounds any which way on the wax paper. Then wet your hands with cold water, shake off excess water but do not dry your hands. Pick up a mound of dough and roll it between your wet hands into a smooth, round shape, then press it between your hands to flatten it evenly into a round shape about 1/2 inch thick and place it on the buttered cookie sheet.

Bake for about 12 minutes or a little longer until the cookies are browned all over.

Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet until they are firm enough to move. Then with a wide metal spatula, transfer them to racks to cool.