Seven years ago this month, in my early blogging days, I went on a mission. My goal: to create the best chocolate chip cookie recipe ever. Seriously, EVER. Not only did it have to be chewy in the center and crisp around the edges, it also had to have the addictively toffee-like quality that only the very best cookies offer. And you know what? I think I did it. Over the years many, many people have agreed; that seven-year-old post has been the top draw on this site pretty much from the day I posted it.
So perhaps it’s time to revisit, no? After baking several thousand of these babies, I’ve made a tweak or two to the technique—nothing earth-shattering, but just enough to make it a little bit easier, a little bit more devilishly irresistible. I’ve decided to leave most of the back-story since I think it’s kinda fascinating, and update the recipe. And because I can’t resist a bit of drama, I’ve also decided not to delete the last line of the recipe, which has inspired so much delicious feedback in the Comments.
My mission started when I tried to replicate City Bakery’s absolutely, undeniably, maddeningly perfect chocolate chip cookies, and failed. Mine were some yummy cookies, but not my own personal cookie nirvana: They turned out thin and crispy instead of thick-and-chewy-inside-crunchy-outside, and a little greasy to boot.
Taking a suggestion from a friend, I tried refrigerating the dough first. She told me she shapes hers into hockey pucks, then chills them before baking. Frankly, I’m a little too lazy for that, so I thought I’d try going the Pillsbury route by making a homemade cookie schlong:
It came in at an impressive 14 inches. I chilled the schlong for a good hour or two, then sliced and baked as usual—making my own version of the hockey puck shape. Strangely, the cookies were even thinner and crisper than before! Almost lacy. Absolutely delicious, mind you, but the exact opposite of what I was looking for.
Next I posted a query on eGullet, a profoundly fun and helpful site for all us foodies. Several generous people chimed in right away with suggestions, and I incorporated a few of them:
- Cream the butter and sugars together at the beginning, eliminating the initial creaming of the butter alone—apparently the double-creaming in the original recipe was a waste, and contributed to the flat greasy quality.
- Do all mixing on low speed, rather than medium—this made the butter-sugar mixture hold the flour differently, and spread out less.
- Refrigerate the dough (in bowl) before baking—this was an amalgam of my friend’s tip, and an eGulleter’s suggestion to freeze the dough first.
The result: PERFECTION. This is the chocolate chip cookie recipe of my dreams. Seriously, I did a victory dance around the kitchen that involved doing the Butter Churn until my sweatpants fell down, evoking hearty laughter from Stephen. It’s still not City Bakery’s—I think I may just have to save that experience for when I’m in their neighborhood—but it’s the cookie recipe I want to pass down to my future children.
2011 note: Awww, how cool is that? This is indeed the recipe I’m passing down to Harry. He’s five years old, and he already knows this is the cookie to end all cookies.
If you love eating cookie dough straight from the bowl, check out these raw egg-free bonbons adapted from this very recipe. Looking for something a little crispier? Try Cowkid Cookies. A little softer? Chewy Cocoa Fudge Cookies. Just flat-out, insanely, decadently good? Homemade Samoas. Aw, heck, just check out all the chocolate posts…
And coming soon, very, very soon, an adaptation I’ve been playing with for the last few weeks involving crushed-up salty things. Mmm, salty-sweet-crunchy-chocolate-chippy goodness. ETA: Here it is! Couch Potato Cookies.
The Best Homemade Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe Ever
Makes about 2 dozen
If, like me, you have self-control issues, here’s a tip: Use a cookie scoop to portion out the dough onto a lined cookie sheet or cutting board. It’s fine to place them close together, since you won’t be baking them this way. Stick the entire thing into the freezer, and once the dough balls are frozen solid transfer them to a freezer bag. Now you can bake just a few at a time—they go directly from freezer to oven, with no adjustment in baking time. And whatever you do, don’t eat a frozen raw cookie dough ball. Just don’t. Because if you do, odds are none of the ones left in the bag will ever see the inside of an oven.
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
3/4 cup tightly packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 large egg, at room temperature, lightly beaten
6 to 7 ounces bittersweet chocolate chunks (one generous cup; it’s fine to just use half a 12-oz bag)
- Sift together the flour, baking soda, and salt into a medium bowl and set aside.
- Using a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment or a hand mixer, cream the butter and sugars on low speed until it is smooth and lump free, about 3 minutes. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle.
- Add the vanilla and egg and beat on low speed for 15 seconds, or until fully incorporated. Do not overbeat. Stop the machine and scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle.
- On low speed, add the flour mixture. Beat until just incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the chocolate chunks and mix until they are just incorporated. If using a hand mixer, use a wooden spoon to stir them in. Refrigerate dough for at least an hour, and preferably 24-36 hours.
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Adjust racks to lower and upper thirds of the oven. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or silicone mats. Spoon the dough, using a large cookie scooper or a tablespoon, 2 inches apart onto the prepared baking sheets.
- Bake for 11-13 minutes or until golden brown around the edges but still soft, almost underdone-looking, in the center. To ensure even baking, turn the sheets front to back and switch racks halfway through.
- Remove the sheets from the oven and carefully slide the parchment or silicone mats directly onto a work surface. When cookies are set, remove them to a cooling rack. Wait at least 5 minutes before serving or 20 minutes before storing in an airtight container for up to 3 days at room temperature.
- Holy Fucking Shit, these are good.
MAKE BABY FOOD: Technically, they’re safe if a baby should happen to taste one of yours. But did you see how much sugar’s in there? Definitely not something for the under-one crowd. Or possibly even the under-two crowd…