In my post about the New York Times’ perfect cookie recipe, I promised I’d get back to you soon about the continuation of the experiment. I didn’t wait long. I wanted perfect cookies, and I wanted them right away.
I turned to my old recipe for Sweet Dream Cookies. They’ve been a staple in my family for at least the last 10-15 years, ever since my mom found the recipe in a Houston newspaper (it had won a chocolate chip cookie contest). Sweet Dream Cookies have never failed me. The spices and sugar coating make them stand out from regular chocolate chippers, but not so much that they turn off picky eaters. Anyone who has known me for longer than a few months has tasted one, and most of those people ask about them regularly. “Oh, you brought cookies? Are they those Sweet Dreams ones?” They’re a little disappointed when I bring different cookies, and try new things begrudgingly. They have a point: Sweet Dreams are so delicious, it seems foolish to make anything else.
I thought I had tasted the apex of Sweet Dreams goodness. I’ve made them dozens of times; I’ve eaten them crispy and gooey, warm and cold, fresh and week-old. I never knew what I was missing.
I changed just two things this time around: I let the dough rest in the refrigerator for a day, and I made the cookies a little bigger. The resulting improvements were huge. Sweet Dreams always have a nutty, toffee-y, molassesy flavor, because they contain only brown sugar (rather than a mix of brown and white). That flavor was enhanced by the resting: someone asked me whether they were sweetened with all molasses. The texture was also immeasurably improved. I wish I could describe it, but I guess I’m not that good with adjectives. The larger size also did what it was supposed to do. The cookies had a crispier outer layer, a gooey middle, and a beautiful middle-ground in between.
I am so sad that these are all gone. I’m torn between making another batch immediately and trying a different cookie. I’m particularly curious about the effects of the resting on dough with oatmeal in it. For example, have you ever tried “Not Neiman Marcus” Cookies? The recipe I use for those has ground oatmeal and ground chocolate, in addition to the usual things. I’ve always thought that they’re not as good as they could be. Maybe a little down time in the fridge is all they need.
Without further ado, I give you:
Sweet Dreams Cookies
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar (packed)
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
12 oz. chocolate chips (about 2 cups), or more (just don’t overdo it)
1. Cream the butter and brown sugar. (I always use my arm and a spoon when I make cookies, but you can use a mixer if you want. Just don’t over-fluff things.) Add the egg and vanilla, and mix until well combined.
2. In a separate bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, and ginger. (Sometimes I skip the separate-bowl mixing without any noticeable difference in the results. If you want to do that, put all the dry ingredients into the wet before stirring. Don’t stir them in one at a time; that won’t work.)
3. Stir the dry ingredients into the wet until well combined. Then stir in the chocolate chips.
4. Cover the dough with plastic wrap (pressing the plastic all the way down to the dough), and refrigerate for 1-3 days.
5. When you’re ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter one or more cookie sheets.
6. It’s a good idea to let the dough sit out for a while before working with it, as it’s really hard when it comes out of the refrigerator. Put some confectioner’s sugar in a shallow dish. Using your hands, roll the dough into balls a bit larger than golf balls. Roll each ball in the confectioner’s sugar and tap off the excess. These cookies are pretty big, so I only put 6 on each baking sheet.
7. Bake for 10-14 minutes, until nicely browned. The center should still be quite soft, but not have that shiny raw look. The baking time varies depending on exactly how big you made the cookies, so you should check on them often after 10 minutes.