I’ve been searching for the absolute BEST chocolate chip cookie recipe for as long as I can remember. I’ve tried following recipes exactly, right to the last drop of vanilla, but I almost always tweak recipes according to my personal tastes. This one, found on Serious Eats, was no exception. It’s not just me, though! J. Kenji López-Alt practically begs readers to make changes. Like your cookies a little cakey? Use baking powder in favor of baking soda. Like your cookies extra chocolatey? Use finely chopped chocolate for a bit in every bite. The Food Lab “Science of the Best Chocolate Chip Cookie” goes into great detail in explaining why and how different cookie flavors, textures, and aesthetics are achieved.
So, I decided to conduct some experiments of my own. Firstly, I utilized J. Kenji’s findings to best create a cookie that suits my cookie needs: chewy on the inside, crispy on the outside, fudgy and filled with melty chocolate pockets, sweet and salty, craggy and textured, with just a hint of nuttiness and caramel flavor (is your mouth watering yet, sickos)? Then, I experimented a bit. How close to room temperature should I let the dough reach (after refrigerating)? How large should the cookies be? How should I assemble the dough on the baking sheet for the most aesthetically pleasing end result? How much raw cookie dough can I eat before I get violently ill?
Here are some of my findings…
- Browned butter is delicious and extremely aromatic, and I do think it gave the cookies a unique, nutty flavor. I made the whole batch with it, but I don’t think it will become a staple step in my cookie-making. However, I am a fan of melted>creamed room temp butter for chocolate chip cookies. As explained in “The Science of…” creaming unmelted butter incorporates more air, which creates more of a cakey texture. Chocolate chip cookies, in my eyes, should never be cakey.
- Unlike J. Kenji, I prefer melty chocolate pockets to a little bit of chocolate in every bite, so I used Ghirardelli semi-sweet chocolate chips.
- My oven is a finicky beast, so I usually bake at a lower temp than most recipes recommend—cookies are typically baked at 350F, but this recipe actually instructed to bake at 325F. I baked at approximately 320F.
- I experimented with letting the dough sit out of the fridge for different durations, and also tried scooping straight from the fridge and baking immediately. I preferred the result from about 10 minutes of rest. The two cookies on the right in the photo below demonstrate the result: some spread, but not too much, and not a lot of “puff.”
- I tried just scooping, scooping and placing chocolate chips strategically, and scooping then tearing the ball in half and smooshing it back together, facing the craggy side up. As you can see in the photo below, the most symmetrical was actually the one I tore apart and smooshed back together! I did find that both placing the chips like an OCD-ridden maniac as well as the smooshing technique resulted in a nice, craggly texture. Say “smooshed” again.
- The ideal bake time for these babies was about 8 minutes. There was no rawness to them, but they were slightly under-baked when I took them out, so they could finish up while they rested.
- The sea salt flakes were a welcome addition to the tops of these babies. I love the sweet&salty combo, and the texture of the flakes added even more complexity to each bite.
- After cooling for 10 (okay, more like 9) minutes, they were absolutely divine. I think I may have eaten half the batch. You know, for science.
Now that I’ve learned SO much about the chemistry of cookies, I plan on tweaking this recipe (and healthifying it to the best of my ability) quite soon. Sometimes, though, you just gotta make some buttery, chocolatey, gluten-filled cookies. Even if they don’t fit your macros. If I had to recommend a recipe to use when the craving strikes, it would be this one, my friends.