It’s official. The world is going to hell in a hand basket. Why? Well, three nights ago (as we write this) we went out to dinner. Nothing unusual there, but this is a restaurant that’s quasi-known for its baked goods, so, on the way out, we purchased a chocolate chip cookie. Well, biting into it when we got home, we could tell that it was either made from a mix, or some of those “chubs” of cookie dough that one can find in the refrigerated section of the grocery. How could we tell? Cookies from the chubs or mixes have a weird, nasty, chemically taste. Ugh. (The third possibility was that the restaurant had been conducting middle school chemistry earlier in the day.)
It was obvious that we had to do something. We had to try to correct this major flaw in the universe. But then we realized that we probably couldn’t save the souls of those working at the restaurant (we think there might be a tenth circle of hell, reserved for those who use chubbed cookie dough, one even beyond Dante’s power of description), but we can save yours. All you need to do is remember these two things: “put down the chub and step away from the case,” and this recipe which will show you how to make the best chocolate chip cookies you’ve ever pushed down your gullet. Guaranteed.
We found this recipe in The Science of Good Cooking, by the editors at America’s Test Kitchen, and it’s now our standard.
These are the ultimate chocolate chip cookies, baby. It’s time to break out the good stuff. Use the best chocolate chips you can find; we’re partial to Callabaut 53.6% cacao chocolate chips. Only unsalted butter will do. Just say no to margarine; it’s just nasty. Period. Eggs, well, start scouring the farmers’ markets to find fresh local eggs from happy hens (again, these are the ultimate and you can’t make something ultimate with second-rate ingredients). And imitation vanilla is not vanilla, so don’t even think about it. You’ll note that we list amounts for some ingredients in grams; use them, if possible.
Procedure in detail:
Toast nuts. Preheat the oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with parchment. Spread out the nuts, and bake for 10 minutes, or until toasty, stirring them around several times while they bake. Watch them carefully during the last few minutes so they don’t burn. We know you’re thinking of skipping the toasting of the nuts, but do not, as these toasted nuts are much better than raw, and this is one of the secrets to making the ultimate chocolate chip cookie.
Chop nuts. Once the nuts are toasted, let them cool, then chop into pieces, if necessary. We chopped ours into 1/4-inch pieces.
Mix flour and soda. In a small bowl, whisk together the flour and the baking soda. You’ll be using a whisk later, so you’re only increasing the number of dishes you’ll have to wash by one: the bowl.
Brown butter. This is the other secret: browning the butter. Place 10 tablespoons of butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat and cook, swirling the butter around often, until the butter takes on a dark brown color and has a nutty aroma. You’ll see what looks like burnt dust on the bottom of the pan; these are some of the milk solids and completely normal.
Pour off butter. Pour the butter into a large heat- proof bowl, trying to avoid including the burnt milk solids. It’s okay if some get into the bowl; you just want to get as little of those solids as possible.
Add butter. Add the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter to the melted butter and stir/whisk until it’s completely melted. At first, while the melted butter is quite hot, the butter will foam up, but that will subside and you’ll be left with a nice, golden brown, liquid goodness.
Add sugar, salt, and vanilla. Add the brown sugar, granulated sugar, and vanilla to the melted butter and whisk until all the sugar pieces are broken apart and your batter is smooth. About 30 seconds should do it.
Add egg, and yolk. Add the egg yolk and the whole egg and whisk with vigor until completely mixed in and the batter is smooth, about 30 seconds.
Rest and whisk. Let the batter rest for 3 minutes. You can set the timer if you want, or just watch the clock. After the 3 minutes are up, whisk the batter with vigor for 30 seconds. Now repeat this resting and whisking 2 more times, until the batter is smooth and shiny. You’ll really notice a change in the batter as you’re whisking. Tip: at this stage it tastes pretty darned good; if you taste it, you’ll know these are the ultimate chocolate chip cookies.
Add flour. Remove the whisk and switch to a rubber spatula. Fold in the flour mixture until it’s completely moistened; about 1 minute of folding should do it.
Add chips and nuts. Fold in those chocolate chips (okay, if one, or two, chocolate chips end up in your mouth, we guess it couldn’t have been avoided) and the nut pieces. There, your cookie dough is done and you can start the baking procedure now, but, you could also do as we did and freeze the dough, so you can have a freshly-baked cookie whenever you want.
Roll dough. Working with about 3 tablespoons of dough at a time, roll the cookie dough into balls about 2 inches in diameter. You need to do this whether you’re baking now or later. Place them on baking sheets lined with silicone baking mats or parchment, about 2 inches apart if you want to bake them all right now. Hey, we’re not going to judge. They can be closer if you just want to freeze them.
Freeze (optional). Cover the sheets with plastic wrap and place in the freezer for about 2 hours until the dough is partially frozen. At this stage, you can transfer the dough to plastic bags and keep frozen for about a month.
Preheat oven to 375°F. Move a rack to the center of the oven.
Arrange. Place the dough balls about 2 inches apart on baking sheets lined with parchment (preferred as it doesn’t insulate as much) or silicone baking mats.
Bake. If you’re baking more than one sheet (no judgements here), bake only one sheet at a time. Slide the sheet into the oven and bake for 10 to 14 minutes (18 to 22 minutes, if starting with frozen dough), rotating the sheet from front to back halfway through, or until the cookies have begun to set near the edges and the centers are still soft.
Cool. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet on a rack, but not completely, because….
Serve while warm. Nothing’s better than a warm chocolate chip cookie with those chips inside still gooey and melty.
These cookies are fantastic, and we’re sure that they live up to their name. We think that everyone should take a pledge never to make cookies from a chub or a tub again. We have, and we think we’re better for it. In fact, even if you have a chocolate chip recipe that has been passed down in your family since the time dinosaurs roamed the earth, we think you should try this recipe. We’re so sure that you’ll find it to be even better, that, for a limited time only, if you don’t agree, we’ll give you double money back (on the price of the recipe, of course). That’s how sure we are.
Seriously, these are the best chocolate chip cookies we’ve ever had. Five stars.