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Fear Conquered: Chocolate Chip Cookies
Chocolate chip cookies may be the ultimate quintessential cookie: a handful of simple ingredients conspire to create a scrumptious baked goodie unrivaled in popularity. Let's face it, have you ever met someone who turned up their nose in disgust at the mention of a chocolate chip cookie? In fact for me, chocolate chip cookies are the definition of cookie comfort.
But don't let the deceptively simple ingredient list for this bewitching cookie fool you. Chocolate chip cookies are perhaps the most difficult cookies to capture perfectly - the perfect texture, flavor, shape and color. And that's because if I were to ask 50 people to define the perfect chocolate chip cookie, I would likely get 50 slightly different answers. There are nearly infinite possibilities for this simple cookie: crispy, crunchy, chewy, cakey, gooey, soft, salty, sweet, thin, thick, with nuts, without nuts, with chips, with chunks...or any combination of these preferences.
And who's to say what the constitutes the perfect chocolate chip cookie? Can there really be just one perfect chocolate chip cookie or are there infinite derivations of perfection?
Yes. Yes, there is just one perfect chocolate chip cookie. And yes, there are infinite derivations of perfection. It all comes down to our personal journeys to cookie perfection.
Take me, for example. I love chewy and crispy chocolate chip cookies with semisweet chips, no nuts, and healthy hint of salt. I'm not a fan of cakey or crunchy or super-sweet chocolate chip cookies. But it wasn't always this way. Years ago, my journey started with Mom's cake-like oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. And as a child, these were little packages of chocolatey bliss. But it wasn't long before Mom was replaced - sorry, Mom.
I had found Grandma's crispy chocolate chip cookies. These devils were were amazingly thin and a little salty - and I was in love. Sure, Grandma's cookies were a little dry, but give me a glass of milk and I could snitch a whole bag on my own. And often did.
I was so in love with Grandma's slightly salty thin and crispy cookies, I thought I had arrived at my definition of the perfect chocolate chip cookie. I was wrong. By chance, I met a new comforting cookie at a sub shop chain called Dibella's. I had just finished a last bite of Dibella's marvelous bread and sat suspiciously eyeing the oversized chocolate chip cookie included with my meal. It looked dry and far too thick - this couldn't possibly rival Grandma's thin and crispy.
Yet when I took a grudging nibble, I discovered the missing link in the evolution of chocolate chip cookie perfection: chewy. One chewy bite broke my love affair with Grandma's cookies. Sure, Dibella's version were overly sweet, under-salted, and lacked crispy toothsomeness - but chewiness was my new comfort.
So 10 months ago when I set about creating my answer to the perfect chocolate chip cookie, there was only one question: Could I create a cookie both thin and crispy yet soft and chewy yet avoid cakiness? And was I brave enough to try?
I present to you, my chocolate chip cookies. Thin; crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside; a hint of saltiness; soft yet never cakey; sweet, but not cloying. It's everything I want from a comforting cookie, it's my go-to recipe, it's 10 months of bravery. Is it the perfect chocolate chip cookie? Yes. But your satisfaction may vary.
A few comments about this cookie before we get to the recipe:
- Butter is not the same as oil and even small changes to the type of fat used in a cookie recipe can have a significant impact on flavor and (more importantly) on texture. Butter plays a critical role in this cookie's texture, so meddle with extreme caution. Even better, embrace the nature of this cookie and don't meddle with the butter at all.
- Baking soda helps these cookies spread while baking. So if you prefer slightly thicker cookies, use less baking soda. I've tested this recipe using anywhere from 1/2 teaspoon to 1 teaspoon and I prefer the spread achieved with 3/4 teaspoon baking soda (as shown in the photos).
- 3/4 teaspoon of salt? Really? Yes. Trust me, try it once and you'll be amazed at the difference in chocolate flavor. The cookies do NOT taste salty - they simply taste more flavorful. Just be sure to use kosher salt as it's softer in flavor then traditional table salt.
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|Preheat the oven to 350F and line baking sheets with parchment paper.|
|Add 1 cup (16 Tablespoons or 1/2 pound) of unsalted butter at cool room temperature to a mixing bowl (I use a stand mixer).|
|Add 1/2 cup granulated sugar and 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar to the bowl with the butter.|
|Cream the butter and sugar together on medium speed for 5 minutes until lightened and fluffy. I use a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.|
|Add 2 large eggs, at room temperature, one at a time to the creamed butter/sugar, beating thoroughly between each egg.|
|Add 1 teaspoon kosher salt and 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract.|
|Sift together 2 cups of unbleached all purpose flour and 3/4 teaspoon baking soda.|
|On the lowest mixer speed, add the dry ingredients to the cookie dough in two parts.|
|Scrape down the sides and bottom of the mixing bowl after adding the first half of the dry ingredients.|
|You need 12 ounces of semi-sweet chocolate chips.|
|Add the semi-sweet chocolate chips to the cookie dough.|
|Mix in the chocolate until just combined. Do not over-mix the dough.|
|Using a teaspoon or ice cream scoop, portion out the cookies onto the lined baking sheets, allowing 2 inches between each cookie.|
|Bake the cookies at 350F for 11 minutes, rotating the cookies halfway through. Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet for 4 minutes.|
|Transfer the cookies to wire racks to cool completely before storing in an airtight container for up to 3 days.|
|Chocolate chip cookies are best enjoyed the same day they're made, but you also freeze the cookies for up to 2 months.|
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Chocolate Chip Cookies
Prep Time: 20 min
Cook Time: 11 min
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Ingredients (4 dozen cookies)
- 1 cup (16 Tablespoons) unsalted butter, at cool room temperature
- 3/4 cup brown sugar, packed
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs, at room temperature
- 3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
- 3/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
- Preheat the oven to 350℉ and line baking sheets with parchment paper
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugars on medium speed until light and fluffy (about 5 minutes)
- Add the eggs one at a time to the creamed butter/sugar and beat until well incorporated
- Add the kosher salt and vanilla and beat until well combined
- Sift together the flour and baking soda; on the lowest mixer speed, slowly add the dry ingredients to the cookie dough in two parts, scraping down the sides and bottom of the mixing bowl after adding the first half; add the chopped chocolate and chocolate chips and mix until just combined
- Use a teaspoon or small ice cream scoop to drop cookies onto the lined baking sheets, allowing 2 inches between each cookie; for jumbo-sized cookies, use a regular sized ice cream scoop and allow 3-4 inches between each cookie
- Bake the cookies for 11 minutes (16-18 minutes for jumbo cookies), rotating the baking sheet halfway through baking. Cookies are done when they have spread and puffed and are just starting to turn a light golden brown; monitor closely during final minutes and do NOT over-bake
- Allow the cookies to cool for 4 minutes on the baking sheet (cool 5 minutes for jumbo cookies), then transfer the cookies to wire racks to cool completely before storing in an air-tight container
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Hungry for Tips?
- Do not over-bake these cookies. And make sure to rotate the cookies halfway through baking. Rotating the cookies will help ensure even baking but it will also help the cookies to spread
- Do not over-mix the cookie dough. And make sure to stop the mixer between adding each half of the dry ingredients to scrape down the mixer bowl. This helps to ensure the cookie dough is well incorporated without allowing the dough to be overworked by the mixer
- Brown sugar retains moisture and helps provide the chewy texture of the cookies. The granulated sugar helps create the crispy top outer texture
- I use mechanical ice cream scoops to drop my cookies (either regular or jumbo) but you could certainly use a teaspoon (the kind you eat with) instead. The bigger the cookies, the longer the bake time
- Lining your baking sheets with parchment paper is actually an important step as it prevents the cookies from sticking to the baking sheet while also helping to slow excessive browning on the bottoms of the cookies
- If you don't have a stand mixer, you can use an electric hand mixer and a big bowl instead. The key will be to cream the butter and sugars sufficiently and avoid over-beating the batter when adding the dry ingredients
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