There’s a lot of hub-bub out there about perfect chocolate chip cookie recipes, all stemming from the famous New York Times article with the recipe from Jacques Torres. It required a 24 hour rest for the dough in order to develop a more complex flavor.
The thing with a perfect anything is that it’s pretty subjective. What characteristics define a perfect chocolate chip cookie to you? For me, it has to be a perfect combination of salty-sweet with a nice chewy texture. I like thick cookies that are nicely browned.
I have a recipe from my aunt that I really like. They have a good texture most of the time, and they are nice and salty. What I don’t love is that it calls for shortening instead of butter, so I miss out on that buttery flavor. It’s typically my go-to chocolate chip recipe. But today, when I was craving baked goods (which, unfortunately, happens more often than not), I decided it was time to try out Cook’s Illustrated’s perfect chocolate chip cookie. They referenced the famous Torres recipe and also referenced the classic Toll House. All the science sounded reasonable, and I decided to go for it. I followed the instructions, even browning butter, something I’ve never done before. I made bigger cookies than I usually do, fighting my instinct to make smaller, more manageable cookies. When they came out of the oven, they looked like they belonged in a trendy bakery.
And they were pretty good. What’s strange is that they seemed to improve the next day: the day I baked them, they seemed just a little dry, as if I overbaked them (I may very well have), even though they were not overly browned. The next day, after sitting in a sealed ziplock bag overnight, they were a bit more moist. I’ll definitely bake them again, but I’m not sure I can give them the moniker “perfect,” however much I enjoyed them. It seems a little presumptuous. After all, what if you don’t like perfect cookies? What if you like those cookies that are really flat and greasy? I hope you don’t.
And I hope you’ll try these. Maybe they can be your perfect chocolate chip cookie.
Cook’s Illustrated’s Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies
adapted from “All-Time Best Recipes 20th Anniversary Special Edition”
8 3/4 ounces flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
14 tablespoons unsalted butter
5 1/4 ounces brown sugar
3 1/2 ounces granulated sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 large egg plus 1 large yolk
7 1/2 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 375. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Whisk the flour and baking soda together in a bowl and set aside.
Melt 10 tablespoons of the butter in a 9 inch stainless steel skillet over medium heat. Continue cooking, swirling the pan constantly, until the milk solids brown, about 5-10 minutes. Transfer to a heatproof bowl. Add the remaining butter to the pan and melt completely. Add the butter to the browned butter.
Add the sugars, salt, and vanilla to the butter and whisk until incorporated. Add the egg and yolk and stir thoroughly, about 30 seconds. Let the mixture rest for three minutes, then whisk again for 30 seconds. Rest again, stir again, and repeat one last time.
Stir the flour mixture into the butter mixture until combined. Add the chocolate chips and stir until mixed.
Working with 3 tablespoons of dough at a time, roll the dough into balls and place on the lined baking sheet two inches apart, fitting 6 to 8 on a sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes (don’t repeat my mistake of overbaking!), rotating the sheet half-way through baking. Repeat with the remaining dough.