If a cookie recipe calls for softened butter, I'm out of there. Who thinks, "I'm going to bake in four hours," and remembers to take the butter out of the fridge? My life is not like that. If I'm going to make cookies, it's right now, damn it, so I need a recipe that moves with me. And when I say "cookies," I mean chocolate chip cookies because really, is there any need for any other kind? If there is a platter of cookies with chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, sugar, and peanut butter, the chocolate chip goes first every time. And then people take the oatmeal raisin by mistake and sigh sadly after their first bite.
When I found the sublime Cook's Illustrated recipe for thick and chewy chocolate chip cookies I was in cookie heaven. I prefer the kind of cc cookies that are soft and pliable rather than thin and crispy; and if the cookie has sort of sunk in a wrinkly way around the chips once cooled, rather than puffing over the top (which denotes too much leavener), all the better. The Cook's recipe uses melted butter, which lends a chewy texture (and incidentally speeds up the proceedings nicely), and a mixture of brown and white sugars, which helps the soft-and-chewiness along. But over the years I have made some refinements to the recipe that make it taste oh-so-much better, specifically browning the butter, reducing the flour a tad, and adding a bit of sea salt on top of each cookie as soon as they come out of the oven. These refinements have produced a recipe so wonderful that when fellow parents see me coming into a school bake sale with a plate of my Quick Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies, they literally follow me like I'm the Pied Piper.
This is also a good recipe to make with my little girl, as she can work the microwave, and stir, and stand with me over the sink eating brown-butter cookie dough, which tastes so incredibly good that you might be tempted to eat a whole batch of cookies in dough form. If you don't like playing with microwaves or don't have one, you can of course brown the butter on the stovetop. CHOW has a great tutorial on browning butter, in fact. I just like not using an extra pan.
P.S. I am embarrassed to be using a Flickr pic to illustrate this post, but, um, we ate up the cookies so fast that it was only when we were staring at a plate of crumbs that we realized what we'd forgotten to do. Whoops.