Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies

Is there a perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe?  I venture to say that there is.  I used to think it was the recipe on the back of the Tollhouse chip bag.  Then I thought it was the Neiman Marcus recipe that was being passed around on the web that someone at some time allegedly paid $200 for.  Then it was the slightly awkward "Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie" recipe I clipped from a newspaper.  And now, now it is this recipe from the geniuses at Cooks Illustrated, with slight modifications by moi.

Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from a recipe by Cooks Illustrated
Makes about 24 large-enough cookies

1 3/4 cup flour (8.75 oz) (for a gluten-free version, use Cup4Cup )
1/2 tsp baking soda
14 Tblsp (1 3/4 sticks) unsalted butter
1/2 cup sugar
3/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 1/4 cups semisweet chips or chunks (I like Ghirardelli)
3/4 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees, rack in center position. Line 2 large cookie sheets with parchment paper.

Whisk flour and baking soda together in a medium bowl. Set aside.

Heat 10 tablespoons butter in a shiny skillet (do not use a dark metal pan, or it will be difficult to see the butter change color). Melt and continue cooking, swirling the pan constantly, until the butter is dark golden brown and has a nutty aroma.  Transfer the hot butter to a large metal bowl, add the remaining 4 tablespoons butter and stir until melted.

Add both sugars, salt and vanilla to the bowl with the butter.  Whisk until mixed.  Add egg and yolk and whisk until smooth, about 30 seconds. Let mixture stand for 3 minutes and whisk again for 30 seconds.

Using a rubber scraper add in the flour mixture in two equal portions, stirring until just combined after each addition.  Stir in chocolate chips and nuts. If using Cup4Cup gluten-free flour, chill the dough for 30 minutes.

Drop 1 1/2 tablespoons of dough for each cookie onto the baking sheets, leaving 2" between cookies.  Aim for 12 cookies per sheet.  Bake one baking sheet at a time for 10-12 minutes.  Transfer the parchment sheet to a wire rack and cool completely before storing.

Make ahead:  Dough can be frozen in cookie-sized portions on a rimmed cookie sheet, then transfered to a ziplock freezer bag for storage until the next cookie crisis strikes.