I have seen any number of posts around the blogosphere recently touting the perfect chocolate chip cookie. While some of them are repeats of recipes that I’ve seen before, many of them are subtle variations made in an effort to achieve perfection. Which, of course, leads to the question: How does one define the perfect chocolate chip cookie?
This is one of those deep philosophical questions in baking. Don’t laugh, the world of baking is riddled with philosophy. While we can be told by world class chefs how a particular food item should be prepared, when you get right down to it food and taste are very personal and individual things. Yes, there are ways and means to ruin food items beyond any level of edibility, but if it weren’t all about the personal and individual preferences we wouldn’t see so many variations, bold and subtle, to pretty much every dish out there. So, perhaps the question, instead of “how does one…”, should be “how do YOU define the perfect chocolate chip cookie?” You will need to answer that question for yourself, but I am happy to share how I define My Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie:
- The dough should have a rich buttery toffee like flavor (I know many people have a fear of raw cookie dough, but I’ve been tasting it for years and I’m still here to tell you all about it)
- The chocolate should be dark – I’m talking 62% or higher
- The chocolate should be a variety of sizes from tiny slivers that nearly disappear into the dough to big chunks that you can sink your teeth into
- When baked the cookie should have slightly crisp edges and a soft chewy center
- The recipe should work well whether you are making small, regular, large or giant cookies (with allowances for bake time, of course)
- The recipe should play well with add-ins (nuts, candy, etc.)
- As an added bonus, I should be able to make them without dragging out a noisy mixer that is likely to wake the Little Prince from a nap
My recipe, which takes the best of both the Cook’s Illustrated recipe and Jacques Torres’ recipe, yielded all of the above. The combination of browned butter with dark brown sugar gives you an amazing toffee flavor which pairs beautifully with an intense dark chocolate. Neither recipe provides any specifics on chocolate preparation but if I have the time I like to roughly chop bars of chocolate or large discs of chocolate to provide that non-uniform size. If I’m pressed for time or feeling lazy I’ll use a combination of large chips or discs with mini chips. The melted butter, white sugar and a slightly higher cooking temperature result in the crisp edges and chewy center I’m always looking for. Since the butter is melted and not being creamed, there is no mixer required and as yet I have not found a size that did not work or an add-in I didn’t love.
Now, go forth and create cookie perfection. Borrow mine or someone else’s to begin with and then play with it until it is your very own perfect chocolate chip cookie. Remember that there is no wrong way, only your way.