MARCH 25, 2013

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.

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Rebecca LaMalfa's:
See Recipe See the recipe for Rebecca LaMalfa's Chocolate Chip Cookies

DAY IN THE LIFE

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."

 

Butter Up

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."

MAKE THE
Chocolate Chip Cookies

YIELD

2 ½ dozen cookies

INGREDIENTS

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

EQUIPMENT

Measuring cups and spoons

Mixing bowls

Rimmed baking sheet

Parchment paper

Food processor

Large fine-mesh sieve

Whisk

Stand mixer

Rubber spatula

Metal spatula

Wire cooling rack

DIRECTIONS

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.)

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