Tuesday, July 26, 2011

The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie

In my quest for the "perfect" chocolate chip cookie, I have tried out a few.  I made Crystal's Chocolate Chip Oops Cookies.  I also tested Alton Brown's Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie.  Back in April I had promised to tackle the Cook's Illustrated Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie.  For reasons I'm not sure other than pure procrastination, I have waited nearly 3 months to make good on my promise.  Better late than never?  The sad part is I was hopeful that one of these recipe was just going to scream out at me proclaiming to be the "perfect" cookie.  But the truth is they are all great.  And the Cook's Illustrated version is no exception.

The Cook's Illustrated cookie does have some different techniques from your standard chocolate chip cookie recipe.  First off, these cookies are mixed the old fashioned way, by hand.  Do you ever wonder how our grandmother's got along without a Kitchen Aide or a mixer?  The recipe starts out with melting butter and cooking it until the butter fats turn a lovely golden brown.  The melted butter goes into a large heatproof bowl and you add some additional butter that melts from the heat of the browned butter.  Next you whisk in brown and white sugars, vanilla extract, salt and eggs.  You whisk for 30 seconds and let rest for 3 minutes.  You repeat that step (of whisking and resting) three more times and then add in your flour mixture and lastly the chocolate chips.  It's simple really, even without the aid of a mixer.  This recipe requires no refrigerating the dough.  You can go straight from mixing bowl, to baking sheet to oven.  I used my large cookie scoop and ended up with 15 3 3/4 inch cookies.

The result, a cookie chewy in the center and slightly crisped on the outer edges...just how I like em!  You can taste the brown butter and it's delicious!  It brings a level of complexity to these cookies that I really liked.  And I can safely attest they still taste delicious on days 2 and 3 (though like most cookies, they lose that crispness that can only be enjoyed the day they are baked). 

Do these cookies live up to the ever so coveted title of  "the perfect chocolate chip cookie"?  I don't know if I can go that far.  Maybe it's because I'm not ready for my cookie quest to end?  But I can say, this is a delicious, nearly perfect, chocolate chip cookie. 

Next up on the test roster, the Jacque Torres recipe featured in the NY Times.  Hope it doesn't take me 3 more months!

The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie
from Cook's Illustrated via Tracey's Culinary Adventures

1 3/4 cups (8 3/4 ounces) all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
14 tablespoons (1 3/4 sticks) unsalted butter
1/2 cup (3 1/2 ounces granulated sugar
3/4 cups (5 1/4 ounces) packed dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 1/4 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips or chunks
3/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts, toasted (optional) - I omitted

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

Whisk flour and baking soda in a medium bowl and set aside. 

Place a medium skillet over medium heat and add 10 tablespoons of the butter.  Cook the butter until it melts (about 2 minutes).  Once melted, lower the heat to medium/low and cook until the butter turns golden brown and has a nutty aroma.  Stir the butter with a rubber spatula frequently to allow butter to brown evenly.  Transfer the browned butter to a large heat proof bowl and immediately add the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter.  Stir until butter melts.

Add the brown sugar, granulated sugar, salt and vanilla to the butter and whisk until fully incorporated.  Whisk in the egg and egg yolk until smooth, about 30 seconds.  Let the mixture rest for 3 minutes and then whisk again for 30 seconds.  Repeat this process of letting the mixture rest and whisking for 30 seconds, two more times.  The mixture should be thick, smooth and shiny.  Add in the flour mixture and stir together with a rubber spatula until the flour is incorporated (don't over work the dough).  Lastly, stir in the chocolate chips and nuts (if you are using them).

Scoop dough into large balls, about 3 tablespoon each and arrange 2 inches apart on the baking sheets.  Bake 1 tray at time for about 10-14 minutes until the the cookies are golden brown, puffy, with edges that are just set and the centers are soft.  Cool the baking sheet on a wire rack until cookies are completely cooled.


  1. wow! this looks quite sinful. love it! just found your blog, can't wait to browse around :)

  2. You are definitely on a mission! I'd love to do something similar, but here's my problem - I would have to make them all within a day or two of one another. Otherwise, I can't remember the tastes well enough to really compare them. Someday when I have a huge chunk of time it'd be a fun project :)

    Great pics by the way! The CI are one of my favorites for sure.

  3. Your cookies look terrific, Gloria! I sometimes think the "best" chocolate chip cookie is the one you're eating, but there really does have to be a perfect recipe out there. The Cook's Illustrated CCC actually won in a blind taste-test I gave my husband with three other kinds, and I appreciate the fact that the recipe is pretty straightforward.

    The NYT cookies are amazing. I brought some to share on the 4th of July as an extra dessert (I had also made shortcake) and they were gobbled up. I have made them smaller than the recipe recommends and I definitely suggest making them exactly as written (huge!) to get the full effect. The recipe calls for a pound and a quarter of chocolate and I thought a pound was plenty. Happy baking!