THE PERFECT COOKIE
April 5th, 2020
Words by Jeremy Chan · Artwork by Alia Wilhelm
Note from the Editors: It was hard for us not to drool all over our laptops while reading this recipe.
As a chef, I’ve always had this idea of making the perfect cookies. But something about their status as a fairly childish treat made me take them less seriously. And cookies always seem to turn out differently depending on the recipe; sometimes chocolate or nuts are recommended, other times oats and raisins. The path never seemed straightforward.
Until now, I had never considered what cookie perfection really meant to me. But being in isolation has given me plenty of time to think about many things. I’ve spent days feeling anxious about what the world will look like when this pandemic is over. How will we return to the outside world? Will we go out to eat again and regain confidence in being around others? What is the most comforting thing we can eat right now? I’ve filled many of the moments in this strange limbo period with cooking and baking. It has not only been a welcome distraction for me, but has also brought me and my family a lot of comfort. I’ve begun to reconsider the kind of food I’d like to cook when this is all over.
Recently, the question of the cookie inspired me to conceive of a recipe as close to objective perfection as possible, meaning rich but light, with elements of chewiness, softness and crunchiness. I wanted it to be something my fellow COVID inmates could also call perfect in their own way.
1. Allow the butter to soften at room temperature. Add both the sugars to the butter and whip until very light and fluffy. Beat in one egg at a time and then add the white miso and continue to beat the batter until well incorporated.
2. Sift the flour and baking soda. Add the sesame seeds and salt flakes and then add to the wet ingredients. Mix the batter until well-combined and then add the chocolate. If your chocolate is in bar form, chop it into small pieces and then sift out the dust.
3. Chill the dough for 30 mins in the fridge. Separate the dough into two. This dough is quite soft and sticky, so I recommend chilling it really well as it can be too soft to roll. Place a sheet of cling film onto a flat surface with one half of the dough on top. Form into a log shape and then roll and wrap tightly. Repeat with other half of dough.
4. For the best result, let the cookie dough firm up in the freezer and then slice 1.5 inch rounds from your cookie log. Place the semi-frozen dough onto baking parchment and bake for 12 to 14 mins at 175C fan oven. I recommend only baking 2 or 3 large cookies at a time and not a bunch of smaller ones. These really flatten out so they need to be well spaced out. The outer layers will be crisp, with a chewy inner rim and a soft centre.
5. Remove and cool on wire rack for 15 mins until the cookies begin to hold their form. Don’t be alarmed; they will be very soft when they come out. I like to leave them to set for longer because this recipe makes for a very delicate cookie once out of the oven, but the texture only improves with proper rest.
6. Store the cookie log in your freezer so that you can slice and bake whenever you're in the mood.
Jeremy Chan is the Head Chef & Co-Founder of Michelin Star restaurant Ikoyi. Although his main focus is cooking innovative cuisine he also occasionally writes on topics related to food and culture.
Alia Wilhelm is a Nearness co-founder. She works as a multimedia artist and director's assistant in London. You can follow her @aliiiiia and check out her work at www.aliawilhelm.com