The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe?

Monday, August 22, 2011

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When Ruth Graves Wakefield mixed bits of semi-sweet chocolate into a vat of cookie dough back in the 1930’s, she unwittingly created what is arguably the most popular recipe of all time – the chocolate chip cookie.  By some accounts, it was an accident.  Others claim that Wakefield intentionally added the semi-sweet chocolate when she ran out of regular baking chocolate.  Whichever version is true, cookie lovers everywhere are thankful.

Since then, professional chefs and home cooks alike have been on a quest to find the Holy Grail of chocolate chip cookie recipes.   A quick Google search turned up almost 2,500,000 entries.  That’s a lot of cookies, folks!   Of course, every chocolate chip cookie aficionado has their own criteria for what makes a cookie “the one”.  Some love them thin and crispy, while others seek out the thick and chewy.  Most people consider the ultimate chocolate cookie to be somewhere in between – thin and shatteringly crisp on the outside, while soft, gooey and chewy on the inside.    I’m an equal opportunity cookie eater.   I can definitely appreciate the joys of both the crispy and the chewy. How about you? 

To further confuse the issue are the numerous chocolate chip cookie mutations that have evolved over the years, including those containing various kinds of nuts, fruits, toffee chips and oh yes, even bacon.  It’s enough to make one’s head swim, preferably in a sea of melted chocolate!

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A few years ago, on a mission for the New York Times, David Leite set out to find the perfect chocolate chip cookie.    In his search, he left no chip unturned.  One of his most interesting revelations was that letting the dough “rest” in the fridge for at least twenty-four hours before baking makes for a much better cookie.  The chilling process is said to allow the dough to “dry out”, which bakes to a better consistency.   Leite also discovered that Ruth Wakefield’s original recipe for the Toll House cookie did, in fact, call for letting the cookie dough chill in the fridge overnight.   Somewhere along the way, that little nugget of information got lost in the translation, and has never been included in the official recipe.  How do you like that?  For over seventy years, we’ve been doing it all wrong!

And apparently, size does matter when it comes to chocolate chip cookies as it does with other things in life.  On his journey to cookie enlightenment, Leite learned that  the bigger the cookie, the  greater the delineation of texture, from crisp to chewy to soft.  Among the gurus that he interviewed, the consensus was that the ideal chocolate chip cookie should bake up to a whopping five to six inches in diameter.  Now, this is where I draw the line.  If I got into the habit of eating six-inch chocolate chip cookies, or any cookie that big, I’d have to climb into my closet and dig out the “fat pants”.  And, I ain’t willing to dig them out again for anything – not even the most perfect chocolate chip cookie on the planet!  Besides, if I shoved a six-inch cookie in Mini SGCC’s face, she’d probably run screaming into the night, never to be heard from again!

What I was willing to do, however, was try this recipe making smaller cookies.  Instead of monster cookies, I made three inchers.    I still let them rest for thirty-six hours before I baked them.  I also still used a good quality bittersweet chocolate and sprinkled them with sea salt.  And, I added  some nuts, just because that’s how I roll.   I have to say, they were pretty damn fabulous!  They had a thin edge of crispy that splintered upon contact with my teeth, which then yielded to a soft, chewy, chocolatey center.  There were toffee and brown sugar undertones too -  just like there was supposed to be – that were beautifully enhanced by the little flakes of salt on top.  All in all, an amazing cookie.  Were they worthy of being dubbed the perfect chocolate chip cookie?  I don’t know. I think I’ll let you decide.

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31 responses to The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe?

  1. On August 22, 2011 at 2:34pm, Baker Street said...

    Your cookies look perfect. Bookmarked.

  2. On August 22, 2011 at 2:52pm, Alison @ Ingredients, Inc. said...

    These look fabulous!

  3. On August 22, 2011 at 3:30pm, Rosa said...

    Oh, those look perfect indeed! I’m drooling…

    Cheers,

    Rosa

  4. On August 22, 2011 at 5:03pm, Jenni said...

    Sprinkling the tops with salt?! Genius!!

  5. On August 22, 2011 at 5:59pm, Katrina said...

    I just made these today–again. They are my go-to impress people ccc! Though I don’t always chill the dough or sprinkle the salt–they are fantastic. Your look great!

  6. On August 22, 2011 at 6:29pm, Lynda said...

    Oh my, I opened this email while waiting for my husband, who is working two hours overtime. That means I haven’t eaten yet, and these look scrumptious. I will have to try this recipe.

    Over the years my Toll House recipe has been altered to where I use vegetable shortening instead of butter and I add 1/8 to 1/4 teaspoon dry cayenne pepper to the dough. That’s kind of the south of the border touch.

  7. On August 22, 2011 at 6:33pm, bellini said...

    I like mine crispy on the outside and chewy and chocolatey inside.

  8. On August 22, 2011 at 7:38pm, Priyanka said...

    The cookie looks so wonderful….Added to my must try list :)

  9. On August 23, 2011 at 10:45am, Bea said...

    Hi,
    For the second time in a week, my anti-virus software has prevented me from opening a page on your site b/c it detects malware. I definitely don’t think YOU are trying to spread malware, but you might want to get it checked out in case your site has been infected.
    Now I’m off to eat cookies. ;)
    -Bea

  10. On August 23, 2011 at 11:58am, Irishbaker said...

    Your cookies look amazing!

  11. On August 23, 2011 at 1:20pm, Katrina said...

    I need to try this recipe. I’ve found my favorite, but I’m willing to try a new competitor!

  12. On August 23, 2011 at 4:36pm, Rachel (S[d]OC) said...

    I can never resist a cookie! I tried letting my dough rest a couple of days once and I didn’t notice any huge difference in texture. I did notice that letting dough hang out in the fridge results in fewer cookies because you just want to keep snatching bits of cookie dough. Will definitely give your recipe a try though the next time I’m doing choc. chip cookies. Love experimenting with everyone’s recipes!

  13. On August 23, 2011 at 8:09pm, Mellisa W. said...

    I owe someone some cookies and these will be the ones I repay my debt with. Thanks!

  14. On August 23, 2011 at 9:40pm, claire said...

    Wow…these look fantastic! So so good. I like my cookies a little taller and mildly gooey. These look like they fit the bill…Toll House never has!

  15. On August 23, 2011 at 11:52pm, Pamela said...

    I do like this recipe a bunch. The nuts look like a tasty addition to the recipe. Good stuff!!

  16. On August 24, 2011 at 7:41pm, Miriam @ Overtime Cook said...

    These look amazing! I’ve read about the virtues of this recipe before, but I love your clear and thorough take on it. And the picture has me drooling!

    Thank you!
    -Miriam

  17. On August 25, 2011 at 7:21pm, ciaochowlinda said...

    I never knew that about chilling the dough, but I’m sold after seeing these fabulous cookies. Off to make the batter —-

  18. On August 26, 2011 at 10:52am, Emily said...

    I’ve made the original recipe. The six-inchers are divine, although I only eat one at a time. Instead of nuts, which I am allergic to, I added some candied bacon. Now that is simply amazing.

  19. On August 28, 2011 at 4:55pm, Joyce said...

    Well, alright than, looks like I’m going to have to try these too. :) They do look so good and I’m anxious to try the sea salt on top. I’m pretty sure that would be the perfect finishing touch on these!

  20. On August 31, 2011 at 1:18pm, Patricia Scarpin said...

    They look pretty perfect to me – I don’t like skinny cookies!
    Long time no see, dear Susan – you continue to make the most delicious recipes around here, I can see!
    xx

  21. On September 01, 2011 at 11:06am, The Food Hunter said...

    I’ve got to try these!! chocolate chips are my favorite

  22. On September 02, 2011 at 9:25pm, Jannett said...

    these cookies … look soooo good… I will be trying them… ;o)

  23. On October 11, 2011 at 10:24am, Women clothing fashion said...

    That looks so delicious! Yum!

  24. On October 19, 2011 at 3:15pm, Dana B said...

    Hi, I’ve just found your website and think I’ve found a new favorite blog. Were we twins in a different life? :) This recipe is fascinating. I totally agree on the chilled dough; the best I’ve made are ones that I froze the dough in rolls. Interesting combo of flours; I’ve done this to get the right gluten level in a few other recipes, but never thought of it for choc chip cookies. I’m also fascinated with the use of coarse salt and love that it has 2 tsp vanilla. love vanilla; I use a tablespoon in my pb cookies :) thx!!

  25. On November 15, 2011 at 10:04am, Elizabeth said...

    I just made these last night…they were fantastic, even though I goofed and didn’t realize there were two sugars (I added the white sugar at the end and thought they would be grainy, but they weren’t). A quick question – I’d love to have these on hand in the freezer – do you think flash freezing the dough balls would work? I prefer freezing dough rather than the baked cookie, so it’s fresher when you make it. Thanks for the great recipe!

  26. On January 14, 2012 at 9:51pm, Lori said...

    After trying many recipes, I found your recipe, made them for my family and now they are the all-time favorite CCC recipe for us! The addition of the coarse sea salt on top is what puts these over the top, far and above any other recipe, oh, and the two types of flour, resting the dough, and… well I guess just about everything puts them on top of any other CCC recipe.

    Fantastic!

  27. On April 11, 2012 at 11:40am, Jenni said...

    Great post. Some people say chocolate is better then anything. We have to agree 100%. Have to revisit this post.

  28. On July 17, 2012 at 1:08pm, Stephanie @ 52 Kitchen Adventures said...

    I haven’t tried this exact recipe yet, but I have tried the method used (letting the dough rest). It did make a difference in the cookies! I’ll have to try this recipe out and see what I think.

    I’m on the search for the best chocolate chip cookie recipes and I hope you’ll consider adding this post to the Chocolate Chip Cookie Challenge link-up. Learn more here: http://bit.ly/NOm7mT

  29. On September 13, 2012 at 11:42pm, Chrisse said...

    This recipe is the ultimate! This was the first cookie recipe I have ever made from scratch and wow am I glad I tried it. I refuse to buy store bought dough now as these cookies are incomparable from the texture, consistency, and most of all taste! These cookies are just wonderful and truly indulgent. I tried another recipe after this one just (one that seemed easier) and the cookies just came out flat! Tonight is the fifth time I am making these cookies and I share them with my family and neighbors and everyone just loves em!

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Hello and welcome to SGCC! I’m Susan, a professional writer, food columnist, recipe developer, wife, mother, daughter and sister, who used to be a lawyer in a previous life. My love of food comes from a long line of wonderful and creative Italian home cooks who didn’t always have a lot, but knew how to make a lot out of what they had. I hope that you enjoy yourself while you’re here, and visit often! read more >>

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