In an exhaustive search to find the perfect chocolate chip cookie - the sole recipe I will use from now on and pass down through the generations - I made sure to test out the most popular recipes I could find. Candidates for tastiest chocolate chipper included:
- Nestle Toll House Cookie Recipe
- NYTimes Chocolate Chip Cookies
- David Lebovitz's Chocolate Chip Cookies
- Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies from Cook's Illustrated
- Allrecipe's Award Winning Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies
I tell you this, Instructables fans, I hesitated to share the results of this experiment with you. It is now one of the most potent tools in my recipe belt, and I have secretly entertained fantasies of launching my own bakery, based on the inspiration provided by this recipe alone. But alas, I already have an awesome job here at Instructables HQ, and it would be criminal of me to keep this secret to myself.
If you follow this recipe, you'll soon be known wide and far for your amazing chocolate chip cookie skills, and will be called upon to provide them at every function. I recommend making up a huge batch and storing them in the freezer. What could be better than surprising your guests with freshly-baked, bakery-quality chocolate chip cookies in fifteen minutes?
Nothing. That's what.
Step 1: Ingredients
And here I present to you, David Lebovitz's recipe, the winningest cookie in the world (or at least my kitchen):
- 2 1/2 cups (350 g) all-purpose flour
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (8 ounces/225 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 cup (215 g) packed light brown sugar
- 3/4 cup (150 g) granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 2 cups (about 225 g) nuts, toasted and chopped
- 14 ounces (400 g) bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
- Sea salt for sprinkling on top (what??)
Step 2: Secrets Revealed
I did not embark on this experiment lightly. I read everything I could find about what makes a chocolate chip cookie truly outstanding, and gained the most insight from the experiment that inspired this one, performed by David Leite for the New York Times in July of 2008. Our results, however, differed, though the few secrets revealed in the article remain invaluable.
The key secret in making amazing chocolate chip cookies seems to be in how long you let the dough sit before baking. Even Mrs. Wakefield employed this technique when she invented the original Nestle Toll House recipe - it just didn't make it onto the package!
Leaving the dough in the fridge for 24-36 hours allows the ingredients to fully soak up the liquid, and result in a firmer dough which bakes to a better consistency.
A long hydration time is important because eggs, unlike, say, water, are gelatinous and slow-moving. And since butter coats the flour, it makes it difficult for the liquids to get through to the dry ingredients.
Another hint is to rotate the cookie sheet mid-way through baking. This allows your cookies to bake evenly, regardless of where the hottest part of your oven is. This simple trick was a game-changer for me, and I'll never do otherwise again!
The NYTimes article suggests there's no substitute for a 6" cookie whose dough has been left in the fridge for at least 36 hours. But after this experiment, I care to differ.
Step 3: The Prep
First you want to toast you some nuts. This makes for the extra yum. If you're allergic, I guess you should skip this part.
In a pre-heated 350oF (180C) oven bake:
- 2 cups (about 225 g) nuts (I prefer pecans in this recipe)
While those are baking, chop up:
- 14 ounces (400 g) bittersweet chocolate
Step 4: The Procedure
The primary step in most cookie recipes is to sift together the dry ingredients. So do that. In a bowl, sift or whisk (easier!) together:
* 2 1/2 cups (350 g) all-purpose flour
* 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
* 1/8 teaspoon salt
In a separate bowl (preferably with an electric mixer) beat together:
* 1 cup (8 ounces/225 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
* 1 cup (215 g) packed light brown sugar
* 3/4 cup (150 g) granulated sugar
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
One at a time, add:
* 2 eggs
beating thoroughly after each addition until each is incorporated.
Slowly stir in flour mixture until fully incorporated.
Finally, stir in chocolate and nuts.
Step 5: The Hard Part
You know what I'm going to say. It's time to wait. It's time to take all this precious cookie dough you just made. . . and not eat it.
Divide the dough into quarters. Roll each dough into a log about 9in (23cm) long and wrap in plastic.
Stick em in the fridge for the next 24 hours, and try to forget you knew anything about them.
Step 6: Let's Be Serious
You are not going to wait the 24 hours. I know this, you know this, who are we kidding? Nonetheless, it's absolutely worth the wait, so here's my suggestion to get you through the next 24 hours.
Though this is not in the original recipe, I strongly recommend saving apart a small portion of dough - 1/2 of one of the logs maybe, and proceeding to the next step. Not only will this quell your desire to break into the fridge at midnight and eat one whole log straight from the wrapper, it will give you the opportunity to compare and contrast the benefits of allowing your dough to rest.
So do it! Just don't tell David I said so. ;)
Step 7: The Baking
Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).
Line baking sheet with parchment paper or silicone baking mat.
Slice the logs into disks 3/4 inch (2 cm) thick and place the disks 3 inches (8 cm) apart on the prepared baking sheets. If the nuts or chips crumble out, push them back in.
Scoochmaroo Super Tip: Sprinkle the cookie slices with a small amount of sea salt. This will really make them sing!
Bake the cookies for 10 minutes, rotating the sheet midway through. If you prefer a chewier cookie, scale back the time a bit
(how did I not get a picture of the cookies being baked? I don't know!!)
Let cookies cool on the baking sheet until firm enough to transfer to a wire rack.
Baked cookies will store in an airtight container for 4 days. Unbaked dough can be refrigerated for up to a week or frozen for up to a month.