MEET THE SOUS CHEF
REBECCA LAMALFA, EXECUTIVE SOUS CHEF, TRENCHERMEN
Rebecca LaMalfa, the executive sous chef of Chicago's Trenchermen, built a career cooking in fine-dining restaurants, including at Le Cirque Las Vegas, Michael Mina outposts in both San Francisco and Vegas, and six years working with Daniel Boulud. But the chef, who holds both a culinary degree and a baking and pastry degree from the Culinary Institute of America, has a deep fondness for American cookies.
In addition to her daily tasks at Trenchermen, LaMalfa is launching a cookie business, called The Cookie Atelier, and any spare time is devoted to baking and recipe tweaking, much to the delight of her coworkers. She shared her chocolate chip cookie recipe with us, a nostalgic favorite inspired by her mother's recipe.
TRACK THIS CHEF
DAY IN THE LIFE
Early to Bed
LaMalfa and her fiancé, who is also a chef, moved to Chicago from Vegas a little more than a year ago. "Vegas is perfectly suited to people with our upside-down schedules," she says. "I could pick up my dry cleaning at midnight, and we could go out for dinner after work and eat something other than Chinese food and pizza." Chicago may be an earlier-to-bed town, but the pair loves the dog-friendly lakeside access, as well as the Italian beef sandwiches.
TIPS & TECHNIQUES
Chip off the Block
After experimenting with many brands of chocolate chips, LaMalfa returned to Nestlé's Toll House. "I don't know if it's nostalgia, but I think they work the best. They melt really nicely--and you can find them everywhere."
LaMalfa uses unsalted butter for all her cookies, preferring Challenge and Plugrá brands. "It's important not to overbeat the butter and sugar in the first step of the recipe," advises the seasoned baker. "Otherwise, your cookies will fall flat when you bake them."
2 ½ dozen cookies
Old-fashioned rolled oats, 2½ cups
All-purpose flour, 2 cups
Baking soda, 1 teaspoon
Baking powder, ½ teaspoon
Kosher salt, ½ teaspoon
Unsalted butter, 2 sticks (at room temperature)
Light brown sugar, 1 cup (lightly packed)
Granulated sugar, ½ cup
Large eggs, 2
Vanilla extract, 1 teaspoon
Semisweet chocolate chips, 2 cups
Large fine-mesh sieve
1. Preheat the oven to 350°. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
To the bowl of a food processor, add the:
- Old-fashioned rolled oats
Pulse the oats until semi-fine--there should be a few larger bits, but most of the oats will be finely ground, about twelve 1-second pulses. Add the oats to a large mixing bowl. Set a fine-mesh sieve over the bowl, and to it add the:
- All-purpose flour
- Baking soda
- Baking powder
Sift the flour mixture over the oats. To the flour mixture add the:
- Kosher salt
Use the whisk to combine the dry ingredients.
2. To the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add the:
- Room-temperature unsalted butter
- Light brown sugar
- Granulated sugar
Beat the mixture on medium-low speed until combined. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat until airy and pale in color, about 2 minutes. Reduce the mixer speed to medium-low and add:
- 1 large egg
Once the egg is well incorporated, stop the mixer and use a rubber spatula to scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl. Turn the mixer back on to medium-low and add the remaining:
- 1 large egg
Once the egg is incorporated, add the:
- Vanilla extract
Beat on medium speed until well combined. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the:
- Flour-oat mixture
Once the flour-oat mixture is mostly combined, add the:
- Semisweet chocolate chips
Mix just to combine the chips. Turn off the mixer and scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl.
3. Use a large spoon to divide the cookie dough into 12 pieces about the size of a golf ball, rolling the dough in your hands to make a well-formed ball. Set the cookies about 2 inches apart on the parchment-paper-lined baking sheet and bake for 6 minutes. Rotate the baking sheet and bake until golden-brown around the edges and still soft in the center, about 6 minutes longer.
4. Remove the baking sheet from the oven and let the cookies cool on the baking sheet until set, about 5 minutes. Use a metal spatula to transfer the cookies to the wire rack to cool completely. Repeat with the remaining cookie dough. The cookies keep for up to 3 days stored at room temperature in an airtight container. (The cookie-dough balls can also be frozen on a baking sheet, then transferred to a resealable freezer bag and frozen for up to 3 months before baking.)