I have a picture in my head of the perfect chocolate cookie. It’s got to be soft, but substantial. I don’t want to hear any crunch when I bite into it, and I don’t want the cookies to stick to my teeth. I don’t want my cookie to be to dry, but neither do I like a greasy cookie. And the sweetness level is important. There needs to be a nice balance of sweet, salty, and buttery. All other things being equal, I prefer a cookie with some height to a cookie that is totally flat. I haven’t yet found a recipe that makes my perfect chocolate chip cookie, but I’m working on it. I’ll document our experiments below.
First the results of other people’s experimentation:
- Alton Brown’s The Chewy: It had a great butterscotch flavor, and a nice soft texture – tender without being too chewy or crisp. However, they were greasy.
- The New York Times recipe: It was soft, with just a bit of crispness to the edges, which I like. However, they were a little dry and bready, and didn’t have as much flavor as Alton’s. They definitely weren’t greasy though.
- Cook Illustrated’s Thick and Chewy recipe: These took chewy to the extreme. It was like cookie flavored bubble gum, although the cookie flavor was weak. I made them again, convinced that I must have done something wrong the first time, but I still couldn’t get excited about these cookies.
- Cook’s Illustrated Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies (May/June 2009): The cookies were really good. This wasn’t a side-by-side comparison, so it’s hard for me to say exactly where they stand, but they’re certainly in the upper echelon of chocolate chip cookies.
Here’s another taste test with an entirely different set of contestants. And here’s a ranking without too many comments. We also have to consider which chocolate chips to use or whether to use chips or just chop chocolate from a bar. The possibilities seem endless!
Now our own results:
In the last year Derek and I have tried two different recipes. The first was the CI recipe from May/June 2009, where you melt and brown the butter. Neither of us thought they were anywhere close to the ultimate chocolate chip cookie, but Derek liked them more than me. I wanted a softer texture. And I found that the flavor from the browned butter interfered with the basic chocolate chip cookie taste I was looking for.
The second recipe we tried was Jaay’s best ever cookies, but normal size not jumbo. I had made these once before and remember them being quite good. This time they didn’t come out quite as soft. Maybe I overcooked them or maybe the German flour is a bit different than American flour. They were still good, but not perfect. I made them with Ghiradelli 60% chocolate chips, which are quite large. Maybe it was the chips that were part of the problem. The cookies seemed to have too many chocolate chips. You mostly tasted chips rather than cookie.
Update May 2, 2015: We made Jaay’s cookies for Derek’s birthday. We added 1 teaspoon cinnamon, and I hated it. It really ruined the cookies for me. My sister Hanaleah, however, really liked the cinnamon addition. We used Scharffenberger 70% chocolate chunks, but much less than the recipe called for — only 6 ounces, which was less than 1.25 cups, whereas the recipe calls for 2 cups. The amount of chocolate was perfect I thought. I wouldn’t use any more. The main problem with the cookies this time was that we overcooked them, and they were dry and crispy rather than soft and moist. We made normal-sized cookies, not jumbo, and they took much less time than we though — probably under 11 minutes. You really need to take them out of the oven when they still look raw.
Some more recipes to consider:
- http://www.seriouseats.com/recipes/2013/12/the-food-lab-best-chocolate-chip-cookie-recipe.html (See explanation here: http://sweets.seriouseats.com/2013/12/the-food-lab-the-best-chocolate-chip-cookies.html)
And a whole-wheat chocolate chip cookie “pie”:
Some scientific notes:
I wonder if melting the butter makes the cookies greasier?
One note from CI about when to take the cookies out of the oven: Remove the cookies from the oven as soon as the outsides are set but the centers are still puffy and soft. Doing so plays a large part in the resulting texture. Cooling the cookies on the baking sheets means they will continue to bake after being taken out of the oven, but without the circulating air of a cooling rack, they will retain their soft texture. I know for me it is often hard to take cookies out of the oven unless they look completely done, but have faith! You don’t want to overbake these in the oven!
CI says: “We found that one whole egg plus one egg yolk keeps the cookies soft and pliable hours after emerging from the oven. Also, cooling the cookies directly on the cookie sheet promotes the soft, chewy texture.”
A note about weighing ingredients: One blogger says: To see how close I was I did a regular measurement and then weighed it. In all of the cases, my measurements came out 1-2 ounces more than the weight measurement provided in the recipe. It becomes easy to see how a heavy-handed scoop could turn thick and chewy cookies into dry and dense cookies! So, I would encourage all of you to invest in a kitchen scale and use it, use it, use it!!