The Great Chocolate Chip Cookie Experiment

A quick note on baking the perfect cookie. The most important part is probably the actual baking. So calibrate your oven with a thermometer for better results. I baked the rest of the dough in my wife’s hot and stable oven and pretty much every cookie came out better in my estimation. Secondly, figure out what you like in a CCC and proceed from there as people disagreed wildly on their favorites.

Anyways here are my rankings.

  1. Serious Eats  – Tons of chocolate and nutty caramel flavors.
  2. Top With Cinnamon – Almost crumbly texture with a hint of refreshing lemon flavor.
  3. Thomas Keller  – A small variation on the infamous Tollhouse recipe.  Very buttery flavor with a bit of spread.
  4. Flour Bakery  – Lifted cookie with a flavor and texture moving in scone direction.
  5. Cook’s Illustrated – Strong nutty caramel flavor and denser texture.
  6. NYT – Big, beautiful cookie with again a texture edging towards a scone.  However, dough is mostly flavorless.

Top With Cinnamon might actually win as I did add too much flour which required some extra egg.  Good excuse to make more cookies.  Surprising is how good the no frills Thomas Keller cookies are.  It is basically Tollhouse with no vanilla and a bit more sugar.  And of course some skill on my part.

So what did I learn?  Well first read the Serious Eats article on the science of CCC.  Then do the following.

  1. Calibrate your oven with a thermometer
  2. I use a two tier baking process where I blast them at 25 degrees higher than specified for half the cooking time before turning it down a bit.  This keeps them from spreading as much while still cooking all the way through.
  3. If creaming, cream them hard. 3 minutes with sugar, 5 minutes after adding eggs.
  4. You can brown butter in the microwave.  It usually takes about 3 minutes.  Use a hardy container and lid though.
  5. If browning, cool it in freezer/fridge until almost starts to congeal.  This will prevent spreading and help it contain air.
  6. Just barely combine dry and wet ingredients so as not to waste all the valuable creaming you did.
  7. Rest your dough in the fridge for at least a day to help build flavor.
  8. Bake straight from chilled dough to prevent spreading.
  9. Salt your cookies right after baking, it spreads it out and is much easier than pushing it into chilled dough.

To be honest, my favorite CCC will definitely have some toffee and pecans in it and that is up next with the Serious Eats cookie.


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