My Quest for the Best: Chocolate Chip Cookies
Jul. 9, 2010 12:15 pm
Updated: Dec. 23, 2010 3:43 pm
I love to collect recipes that I consider the 'best' - maybe it's pride, I don't know, but when I serve something I really like for it to be the 'best' I can make it. This week I was on a quest for the
BEST Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe, and although I am not certain that I have found
IT, I did learn quite a bit about chocolate chip cookie baking and I think I got a
lot closer to The BEST recipe. As an AR poster wisely wrote: "The "Best" chocolate chip cookie is a matter of personal opinion!" Undoubtedly, this is true. So I suppose this quest would be to find 'my version' of the
Best chocolate chip cookies. I will post the recipe I ended up with, but first just a few notes about what I learned.
I read, read, read a *ton* of recipes --from recipe recommendations via a couple posts I wrote (great suggestions there), from AR, from general internet searching, and finally, from my vast collection of cookbooks, to get a broad idea of various techniques.
I did a lot of different searches for 'julia child chocolate chip cookies' since I figured if there was ONE fabulous recipe she might have found it, but sadly I turned up nothing much on that one. From the many
delicious sounding recipes, one technique really stood out to me:
refrigerate the dough for 48 hours. To be honest, I really hated reading this, because in life I am typically a 'planner' but in cooking, I like to cook
'right now'. I do not really use any '3 day marinating' type recipes that I can recall. So I filed this one away in the back of the brain and kept on reading.
Many recipes used shortening, and it seemed that those recipes often described a thicker (as in 'not flat') cookie, which I sort of wanted. But I just cannot bring myself to cook with shortening since I learned about trans fats, so that was discarded quickly.
Some recipes want cold butter, some melted butter, a few even browned butter,
which sounds yummy. Most have the same basic ingredients:
flour, butter, white sugar, brown sugar, eggs, vanilla, baking soda, salt, and of course, chocolate: chips, chunks, or 'break it yourself'. Proportions and amounts vary. Nuts are always optional. I did find a good variety of "additions": peanut butter,
cinnamon, butterscotch chips, raisins, M&M's, etc., but those seemed to better fit a recipe I have called
Monster Cookies, which are also delicious in their own right. Some ingredients that got my attention:
lemon juice, almond extract, cream, ground oats, cornstarch, sea salt. Interesting.
I took a basic recipe and made a few tweaks based on my (now extensive) chocolate chip cookie recipe reading, and ended up with a basic version, which I made and then started playing. First batch, straight. Excellent: thin, but crispy edges and gooey center.
Can't go wrong; delicious cookies. But what about all that other stuff I read? I portioned off some of the dough and refrigerated the rest. To one batch, I added some
ground oats and cornstarch. I wanted to see if I could get a 'thicker' cookie that was still a 'pure' chocolate chip cookie. These were very good, but I would not really say an improvement. To a second batch I added
a couple of drops of almond extract, and a little squirt of
lemon juice. These definitely had better flavor.
Big flavor improvment. Noted.
Then I got tired of playing with cookies, and I had a life that needed tending to, so I stopped and all the experimental cookies were quickly eaten. A couple of days later, cookies were gone and I pulled out the rest of the cookie dough and
baked it up. And guess what? These cookies were the very
best of all the ones I baked! Yep. I have to say that these cookies were the
Very Best Chocolate Chip Cookies that I personally, have ever baked. There is definitely something to that
very annoying suggestion of refrigerating the cookie dough for 48 hours. Of Course.
So here are my Chocolate Chip Cookie Conclusions:
1. If I really want the Best cookies,
I will make the dough 2 days in advance and refrigerate. Ugh. Pain, but sooooooo worth it.
2. If I need cookies-in-a-hurry, I will make the basic recipe and add a
scant 1/2 tsp almond extract, and
3/4 tsp fresh lemon juice. You cannot taste these at all in the cookies, but they really do something wonderful to the flavor, if you don't have time to refrigerate the dough.
3. My suspicion is that the above suggestions would work on ANY chocolate chip cookie recipe.
I would love for you to try them sometime on your favorite recipe, and let me know what happens :-)