Everyone loves chocolate chip cookies. Whether it is the original creation of Ruth Wakefield at her Toll House Inn in Whitman, Mass or the infinite numbers of attempts by commercial bakeries and home cooks to make variations on the primal concept, these cookies are all wonderful in their own way. However, the debate continues as to what might be the “ultimate” chocolate chip cookie.
This is not the first time I have visited this subject. I posted the Grand Prize winner of the Orchards’ 1987 cookie contest (best of 2600 recipes) in my September 2013 blog, a great double chocolate chip cookie with nuts. Exactly one year ago, I discussed the original “Toll House” cookie and America’s Test Kitchen reworking of the recipe. In my quest for something even better, I have looked at many cookbooks and many recipes on the internet. I’ve tasted a bunch of cookies from bakeries. I haven’t found a stellar replacement that was a quantum leap better until now.
A post by Michelle Norris on her browneyedbaker blog lead me to a July 9, 2008 New York Times article by David Leite. This article does a great job of explaining the history of the chocolate chip cookie, and ends up with a recipe that is a distillation of all the secrets of making a great chocolate chip cookie. Since this is copyrighted material I can’t reproduce it here but it is imperative to read the article to understand the underpinnings of the cookie recipe. http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/09/dining/09chip.html?_r=1&adxnnl=1&pagewanted=1&adxnnlx=1426461985-2l7wZ43hFSY/Tzbyds0I5Q.
In her blog, Michelle posted a variation of the NY Times cookie, and more recently, a peanut butter chocolate chip cookie variation, but I will post the original recipe from the NY Times article:
The Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie
Original source The New York Times
- 2 cups minus 2 tablespoons (8 1/2 ounces) cake flour
- 1 ⅔ cups (8 1/2 ounces) bread flour
- 1 ¼ teaspoons baking soda
- 1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
- 1 ½ teaspoons coarse salt
- 2 ½ sticks (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter
- 1 ¼ cups (10 ounces) light brown sugar
- 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (8 ounces)granulated sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract
- 1 ¼ pounds bittersweet chocolate disks or fèves, at least 60 percent cacao content (see note)
- Sea salt.
- Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Set aside.
- Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars together until very light, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. Reduce speed to low, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds. Drop chocolate pieces in and incorporate them without breaking them. Press plastic wrap against dough and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours. Dough may be used in batches, and can be refrigerated for up to 72 hours.
- When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Set aside.
- Scoop 6 3 1/2-ounce mounds of dough (the size of generous golf balls) onto baking sheet, making sure to turn horizontally any chocolate pieces that are poking up; it will make for a more attractive cookie. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and bake until golden brown but still soft, 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer sheet to a wire rack for 10 minutes, then slip cookies onto another rack to cool a bit more. Repeat with remaining dough, or reserve dough, refrigerated, for baking remaining batches the next day. Eat warm, with a big napkin.
- Disks are sold at Jacques Torres Chocolate; Valrhona fèves, oval-shaped chocolate pieces, are at Whole Foods. Ghirardelli makes a wonderful 60% cocao chip, available at Cost Plus and other retailers.
Now, some caveats. This recipe is mostly derived from Jacques Torres’ bakery chocolate chip cookie. You will note that it uses both bread flour (more gluten and protein) and cake flour (less gluten and protein). Why use both in equal amounts, if unbleached all-purpose flour has a middle amount of gluten and protein. I suspect the recipe calls for both flours, because Torres’ bakery may have bread flour and cake flour in large amounts due to the needs of the bakery, but might not have all-purpose flour. I made the recipe using 17 ounces of King Arthur all-purpose flour, and the results were spectacular. Now, having said that, it is possible that there is a difference that can be tasted by using the bread and cake flour mix, as there are differences in protein content of bleached and unbleached cake flours. Protein content of the Softasilk bleached cake 6.9%, King Arthur Unbleached Cake Flour Blend 9.4%, Unbleached Self-Rising 8.5%, Unbleached Pastry 8%, KAF Unbleached All-Purpose 11.7% KAF Unbleached Bread Flour 12.7%. No matter what flours are used, I strongly recommend that ingredients are weighted, not dry measured, for increased accuracy.
Also, as the article details, let the cookie dough rest and hydrate thoroughly for 12 to 36 hours (the longer the better). It definitely makes a difference in the end result. I did tests at 1 hour, 3 hours, 12 hours, 24 hours, and 36 hours. At 36 hours, the cookies are much more complex, with caramel and toffee notes in the taste that is extremely pleasant without being overwhelming. I used 60% Ghirardelli cocoa chips, and did not bother to get the fancy fèves. The 3 ½ ounce size of each cookie make a monster five inch cookie, with the 3 rings of flavor that Mr. Rubin talks about in the article. A 1 ½ ounce size produced a 3 inch cookie, and took 13 minutes to cook instead of 20 minutes. This is less of a monster, but with similar taste.
Despite what Dorie Greenspan says, I think this cookie is fine without the addition of a sprinkle of sea salt. There is enough salt in the dough and I think the salt counterpoint on the top of the cookie is overkill. Timing is everything with this recipe, from the resting of the dough in the refrigerator to the exact cooking time (just a light color to the top of the cookie without the edges getting too well done) to the resting on the cookie sheet for 10 minutes before the transfer to the wire rack. As usual, nothing but the best ingredients gives the best results, and this is particularly true concerning the chocolate. The cookie will taste very different if made with Nestle’s semi-sweet morsels, or with milk chocolate chips.
This is not a recipe for instant gratification, but it is worth the extra effort and time. For all you cookie lovers out there, this is a must! I will need to experiment to see if using the bread and cake flour mix creates any difference, and I will see if the brown butter technique of America’s Test Kitchen could be applied to this recipe with any notable increase in the end result!