Chocolate Chip Cookies: The Quest Begins

Can you believe that I’ve never made these before?

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Its true. I set out this week to tackle the “chocolate chip cookie thing” and realized that I had never actually made one before. Weird, huh? I’ve made lots of cookies. Just not this kind. Lots of people make lots of chocolate chip cookies, they are fairly ubiquitous, and everyone seems to have a differing opinion on what makes a good one. Can you blame me for avoiding them until now? But then I read around the blogs and saw this quote from a New York Times article: “Like the omelet, which many believe to be the true test of a chef, the humble chocolate chip cookie is the baker’s crucible.” I knew I could avoid it no longer. I’d already tackled the omelet and so I knew what was meant here. Just read the reviews on any recipe site and you will see how widely the results can be for bakers working the exact same recipe! For a cookie where there are only a few universal ingredients it is in the subtleties –the nuance of technique — that the “good enough” is made into the “truly great”. We live in a world after all, where the question of “chewy”, “cakey”, or “thin” can pit worker against co-worker and split families. This is what one is up against when one decides to bake this American classic for the very first time. Can you blame me for waiting so long?

Chocolate Chip Cookies
So I offer this recipe up after what was only my first try. It is the recipe that is that good, not me. However, not exactly being a novice in the kitchen, I did know enough to do a bit of reading and research before cracking an egg. I sleuthed my way through a few recipe books, blogs and websites, reading comments and reviews on dozens of different recipes all the while trying to determine which comments came from experienced bakers and which came from “newbies”. “I didn’t have butter so I used margarine and boy were these disappointing!” No duh! Also, while I’m at it, if a reviewer says a particular cookie recipe makes lousy cookies and you can see they are living in the Sierra Nevada, move along and pay no attention. It is probably the baker and not the recipe at fault since so few “mountain people” know how to adjust a recipe. I like chewy chocolate chip cookies with just a enough firm to hold together but will still keep moist inside after a day or two. I settled on this recipe here from Alton Brown who usually does a really good job with classic recipes. I only changed it slightly in that I specified a 65% cacao chocolate chip and he doesn’t tell you how long to chill the dough. (2 hours minimum.) Remember how I said it was the small things? Well then, splurge on the chocolate and use good quality and the best butter you can get. The bread flour will help the cookies keep some rise and shape while baking but these will still be good if AP is all you have. Being the purist I gather, Alton left out the walnuts and so did I. I wanted to evaluate the base cookie itself before I adding anything. These definitely have the strong flavor needed to support walnuts (by special request of my husband) or (gulp) pecans.

Chocolate Chip Cookies
Be sure to consider these tips I think are critical to this recipe. The dough must be chilled thoroughly. At least 2 hours. Since you melt the butter rather than mix it in solid like in most recipes, the dough needs to be chilled back up or the cookies will end up flat and oily. Part of the reason these are good is that the warm butter starts in on the sugar so don’t shortcut this part or you will be sorry. If you don’t have the time to fully chill it, leave it in the refrigerator overnight and scoop and bake the next day. In fact, if you can, plan on leaving it in overnight. Cookie dough is a lot like soup in that it gets better the next day. That is a little cookie secret you don’t often see spelled out in recipes but I will share it with you here. The flavors will get just a bit more intense and the bake will get more evenly golden without drying out. If you like, you could scoop this dough into balls and flash freeze them in a freezer bag to bake out individual portions on demand. (Bake at 375 for 15 min). Also, before I forget, be sure to melt the butter slowly, in a broad saucepan over low heat. DO NOT LET IT BUBBLE or it will separate and cause you to have oily cookies.

Chocolate Chip Cookies (“Chewy Style”)

Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate Chip Cookies: The Quest Begins

Chocolate Chip Cookies: The Quest Begins

adapted from Alton Brown

This is what you will need:

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 2 1/4 cups bread flour
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1 1/4 cups brown sugar (packed)
  • 1 egg
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tablespoons milk
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 2 cups chocolate chips made from 65% cacao

This is how you make it:

  1. Heat oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. Melt the butter in a heavy-bottom medium saucepan over low heat.
  3. Sift together the flour, salt, and baking soda and set aside.
  4. Pour the melted butter in the mixer’s work bowl.
  5. Add the sugar and brown sugar.
  6. Cream the butter and sugars on medium speed for several minutes until fully incorporated and sugar is somewhat dissolved.
  7. Add the egg, yolk, 2 tablespoons milk and vanilla extract and mix until well combined.
  8. Slowly incorporate the flour mixture until thoroughly combined.
  9. Stir in the chocolate chips.
  10. Chill the dough for 2 hours, then scoop onto parchment-lined baking sheets with a 2 oz disher, 6 cookies per sheet.
  11. Bake one tray at a time for 14 minutes or until golden brown, checking the cookies after 5 minutes.
  12. Rotate the baking sheet for even browning.
  13. Cool completely and store in an airtight container.

Chocolate Chip Cookies Chocolate Chip Cookies
Chocolate Chip Cookies Chocolate Chip Cookies


About Trevor Kensey

To be truthful, I don't know what “Sis. Boom. [blog!]" means either. The name implies something explosive just happened I suppose I would like it if each post would make made a small 'boom' in your day or at least a fizzle. Even though a recipe is included with every post I have a hard time calling this a "food blog" or even myself a "food blogger".

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  1. These look great! Methinks I shall be making them this weekend! 🙂

  2. The David Leite recipe from the Times is similar and fantastic too. Chilling the dough is a must – I make them with a gluten free flour blend (brown rice flour, tapioca flour & potato starch) and even the non-allergic diners are in chocolate chip heaven!

    ps – I think you need to do a few WWGKWISWAM posts…;)

  3. Kate, The NYT recipe based on Jacques Torres (the Leite article) is up on deck for this week. I figured I should tackle it because of its notoriety but the recipes are a bit different in proportions.

    Yes, all cookie recipes benefit from letting the dough sit, chilled, overnight… but my recipe above requires at least 3 hours or your cookies will be a flat, greasy mess.

    As for WWGKWISWAM; I’m on it.

  4. I’ve been trying out diff choc chip cookie recipes lately. This was on my list of the next one I plan on trying. Yours look delicious

  5. I love chocolate chip cookies. And this recipe lloks like it makes the perfect bite. Will definitely be making these….

  6. I totally agree with breaking out the best choc and butter in the loot!!

  7. These look great and I want to try them for a last minute recipe. I noticed bread flour is on the recipe for I only have cake flour and AP flour at hand. Would this make a huge difference? Thanks in advanced.

    • Mrs. G, there is a unique alchemy that makes up all of the various chocolate chip cookie recipes you see around the web. They all use the same basic ingredients so when it comes to differences it is in the materials, proportions and techniques. Bread flour has a slightly higher gluten content than AP flour… by a few percentage points… so if you use AP flour instead of bread flour there will be a difference but not a large one. It won’t be the exact same cookie…it may spread more, slightly less ‘lift’ during the bake, etc. but it will very damn close. Cake flour is very soft and a lot less gluten than bread flour so if you needed to substitute and still stay close then just use the AP flour. At any rate, the best cookie is the one that just came out of your oven. Come back and let me know how you did!

  8. How does whole wheat flour figure into the mix. Would it work as well as bread flour?

    • Well, the short answer is “no”. Whole wheat flour won’t work as well but its adherants are probably more than willing to suffer the trade offs of a ‘tougher’ and heavier cookie in the misguided thought that it will be ‘better for you’. Nobody will argue that whole wheat flour is better for your but you are eating a cookie, not adopting a lifestyle. So my recommendation is stick with the bread flour and enjoy your cookie. No doubt, the same recipe made with whole wheat will still make cookies. They just won’t be as good. They will be different. They will still have butter and sugar and chocolate in them. So how bad can they be?