What is it, that makes a chocolate chip cookie the best chocolate chip cookie ever? ….. The world may never know. I bet you weren’t expecting that answer and, truthfully, neither was I. I’ve read many, many blogs, recipe books etc… that all tout their “chocolate chip” cookie recipe to be THE BEST EVER!! I really wanted to believe that I had discovered the Holy Grail of the chocolate chip cookie world and so, I settled on a recipe that intrigued me*. And I did all this unbeknownst to my family. My kids (ages 7, 9, 12 & 14) loved them, their friends loved them, my husband loved them. They even exclaimed (without being prompted) that, “they were the BEST ever” and “great combination of chocolate & texture”. I tried them… and they were good, really good, but I’m not sure I could say they are the BEST. I asked myself, “Why is that?” “What makes one chocolate chip cookie (recipe) reign supreme over another?” Other than “personal preference”, I don’t have an answer to that.
However, I did make a few discoveries along the way about the recipes I researched:
In making the recipe comparisons, I adjusted all of the recipe ingredients so that both the size & yield of the baked cookies were equivalent.
1. All of the recipes use real, unsalted “butter” ~ softened, room temperature or melted & cooled.
2. All recipes used a combination of light brown sugar & white granulated sugar.
3. The amount of vanilla varied between either 1 or 2 teaspoons
5. While the preference was to use semi or bitter sweet chocolate (quality & percent of cocoa does make an obvious difference, especially for those particularly fond of the the “chocolate” part of the chocolate chip cookie). All recipes used approximately the same amount of chocolate per cookie.
Of all the differences & similarities I found the following to be the most interesting:
Some people prefer their cookies “soft & slightly underbaked”, others “crunchy”, and then there are those that like them somewhere in-between – “crispy around the edges with a soft/chewy center.”
Hmmmm…. so what’s a new-to-the-world-of-recipe-blogging-girl like me to do? Especially since I already spent 4 days working on these cookies, and planning the post for tomorrow. I decided to share my findings and do a little experimenting along the way. I suppose you can look at it as the first ever (ok, I don’t know if that’s true, but it is a first for me) The Best Ever Homemade Chocolate Chip Cookie Documentary – or just a humble blogger that’s going to make a lot of different chocolate chip cookie recipes so that she can share the results with her readers. Btw, I think documentary sounds better.
The recipe listed below differs the most from the others in these 4 ways – it uses a combination of bread AND cake flours (not AP/all purpose), coarse salt, the dough must be chilled for a minimum of 24 hours before baking, and the cookie dough balls are sprinkled with sea salt before baking. *I found these differences to be “intriguing” which is why I chose to make these cookies.
Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe #1 (Jacques Torres Chocolate Chip Cookies)
2 cups minus 2 tablespoons cake flour
1 2/3 cups bread flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 1/4 cups light brown sugar, packed (I used dark, because that’s the kind I had)
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1 1/3 pounds bittersweet chocolate disks or fèves, at least 60 percent cacao content
sea salt or fleur de sel, for sprinkling (I used coarse, I’d stay with the sea salt)
1. Sift together both flours, baking soda, baking powder, and salt into a bowl and set aside.
2. With electric mixer, or by hand, cream together your butter and sugars until light and fluffy, about 3-5 minutes. One at a time, add each egg until combined, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed. Mix in the vanilla. Add the dry ingredients 1/4 cup at a time until combined. Lastly, stir in the chocolate pieces until evenly added throughout the dough. Using plastic wrap, cover the dough by pressing it against the the top of the dough making sure it is completely covered. Then, chill in the refrigerator for a minimum of 24 hours or as long as 72 hours.
3. Bring the dough to room temperature so that it is soft enough to be scooped out. (I rolled mine in plastic wrap, so that I could slice into cookies. – If using this technique, slice while chilled.) While the dough is warming, pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment, use silpat mats (my preference), or grease baking sheets. Scoop dough out onto the sheets into the equivalent of 2 TBL balls. Keeping the dough in “ball form”, sprinkle the cookies lightly with a bit of fleur de sel or sea salt. Bake 10-12 minutes.
4. Cool cookies slightly on the baking sheet, then transfer to racks allowing them to cool completely. Store in an air-tight container at room temperature for up to 3 days, or freeze for up to 2 months (longer is fine, but the flavor will deteriorate over time).