Tuesday, July 21, 2009

the search for the best chocolate chip cookies

It started with Cook's Illustrated. I've been making their Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies for several years, but I had become a little disenchanted with the buttery taste. Around the same time, in May, CI published their Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe. True, the proportions were a bit different from the original recipe, but the concept of melting the butter (the new recipe calls for browning the butter) and using one egg and one egg yolk sounded pretty familiar. I can subscribe to CI's method - testing and tweaking a recipe to perfect the method - but once they've perfected it, does it really need to be "reinvented?"

So I embarked on a taste test to find the best chocolate chip cookie recipe. I baked the new and old CI recipes, the much-talked-about NY Times recipe, the King Arthur recipe that was printed in response to the NY Times recipe, plain ol' Toll House, and several others. Here's where my method was less than scientific: I didn't immediately blog about the results, I didn't label which cookie was which in my pictures, and I didn't keep good notes on the recipes I tried. FAIL.

My memory got pretty hazy, but I definitly wasn't wowed by any of them. Moreover, my general impression is that all of these methods - browning the butter, combining bread and cake flour, using expensive dark chocolate feves, and letting the dough rest for 36 hours - kind of defeat the purpose of chocolate chip cookies. They should be unpretentious and quick and easy to make. I spent countless nights in junior high school stirring up the recipe on the back of the Nestle bag and was always happy with the results. I know more now than I did then, and I get that certain ingredients (such as more brown sugar or an extra egg yolk) will influence the outcome, but the ideal recipe should be easily memorized, comprised of items I always have on hand, and yield consistently good results: chewy, thick cookies with slightly crisp edges.

I'm giving it one more try (this week): my take on Orangette's take on the NY Times recipe. I used all-purpose flour and regular chocolate chips (about 2/3 Trader Joe's: 1/3 mini dark chocolate chunks from Whole Foods - just what I had on hand). I halved the recipe and only used 8 oz of chocolate chips instead of 10. I didn't bake them yet, but only because I didn't feel like heating up the kitchen. I'll let you know how they come out. If they're not everything they're cracked up to be, I'll keep looking, but I'm going to give it a rest for a while first.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Have you tried Baked's or Thomas Keller's?