Recipe Sleuth: Watershed’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

Every baker has his or her own recipe for chocolate-chip cookies, but this one yields one of our favorite comfort-food sweets.

Watershed’s great chocolate-chip cookies. Photograph by Scott Suchman

At Watershed, the new seafood-centric restaurant from Equinox co-owners Todd and Ellen Gray, one of the best dishes is also one of the most simple: the chocolate-chip cookies. The baked-to-order rounds, which are slightly thick but still soft, come with a cold glass of milk for dipping—straight-up childhood comfort food.

Pastry chef Tom Wellings, who worked briefly at Restaurant Eve in Alexandria, says he based the recipe on one he used at the Ritz-Carlton in Tysons Corner when he cooked at the now-closed Maestro in that hotel. Adding milk chocolate—in addition to the more-bitter Valrhona chocolate—"gives the cookies a little extra gooey texture," Wellings says. To add another flavor dimension, Wellings recommends sprinkling some sea salt on the cookies right before baking. Other tips for replicating his dessert: Be careful not to over-mix the dough, and know your oven—if it's hotter on one side, be sure to rotate the tray halfway through baking. His preference is a "light golden-brown color and a chewy center." Based on our experience with those cookies, we'd go with his advice.

Have a recipe you'd like sniffed out? E-mail 

Watershed’s Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes about 12 cookies

2¾ cup flour
1¼ teaspoons baking powder
1¼ teaspoons baking soda
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1¼ cup sugar
1 cup brown sugar
1¼ teaspoons salt
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups 70-percent Valrhona chocolate chunks
½ cup milk-chocolate chips

Heat the oven to 350 degrees, and line a sheet tray with parchment paper.

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, and baking soda, and set aside.
In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter, sugar, brown sugar, salt, and scraped vanilla bean on medium speed until light and fluffy, approximately 3 to 4 minutes. Adjust mixer to a low speed and add the eggs one at a time, until fully incorporated. Add vanilla extract and then the flour mixture. Pulse the mixer on and off just until the flour is totally mixed in. Fold in the chocolate.

Scoop batter onto the sheet tray, and bake until golden brown, approximately 12 minutes. The dough—already separated into individual cookie balls—lasts in the freezer for up to 2 weeks.

See all Recipe Sleuths here

Subscribe to Washingtonian
Follow Washingtonian on Twitter

Follow the Best Bites Bloggers on Twitter

More>> Best Bites Blog | Food & Dining | Restaurant Finder

Food Editor

Anna Spiegel covers the dining and drinking scene in her native DC. Prior to joining Washingtonian in 2010, she attended the French Culinary Institute and Columbia University’s MFA program in New York, and held various cooking and writing positions in NYC and in St. John, US Virgin Islands.