I know, I know. What is with all these “The Best this” and “The Best that” recipes? But I’m always so excited when I discover a recipe that seems to be The Best and Most Classic and Most Foolproof of all recipes. The Ur-Recipe. The Holy Grail.
(You doubted me, but then your thirteen-year-old made The Best Brownies, like ever last weekend and what happened? That’s right. They knocked your socks off.)
As you know, I often change my mind on this a few months or years into religious devotion to the recipe. But for now, I will exclaim: “Eureka! I have found it! The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie!”
You and I, of course, grew up on the Mrs. Fields Cookie Book recipe. It was simple, standard, and not very complex. Then, I discovered Tyler Florence’s cookie recipe, and I remained loyal to that for the past decade or so. And then I started growing dissatisfied with it. It was too — meh. I need something more exciting.
Enter the J. Kenji Lopez-Alt Serious Eats article, about an obsessive quest to make the best chocolate chip cookies. For him, it involved weeks and dozens of experimental batches and 30 lbs of flour. For me, it involved reading the article with my mouth half open. There are so many variables that he tests out (white sugar/brown sugar; melted butter/creamed butter; all-purpose flour/cake flour/bread flour; egg whites/egg yolks). Personally, I had three takeaways (there are way more takeaways than three, but I’m not a crazy person; I can’t do all the things he suggests each and every time):
- Use brown sugar in addition to white sugar.
- Add more salt than you think.
- Rest the dough.
A few weeks later, I stumbled upon this recipe by Martha Rose Schulman in the New York Times. The pictures here are from a spontaneous-cookie day, when I didn’t have the option to rest the dough overnight. Trust me, though. Rolling up the dough in a log in parchment paper and chilling overnight (or two nights!) makes it so much better. The chocolate pieces splinter and melt so beautifully.
Plus, I’ve discovered that homemade slice-n-bake cookies are a perfect dessert for a weeknight dinner party. Make the dough the night before, preheat the oven during dinner, and then pop the cookies in for a really quick (and surprisingly impressive dessert).
The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted slightly from Martha Rose Schulman’s Quintessential Chocolate Chip Cookies.
Yields 4 dozen (very small) cookies, or about 2 dozen regular-people cookies.
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (185 g)
1/2 tsp baking soda (2 g)
4 oz, or 1 stick of unsalted butter (115 g)
1/2 cup white sugar (100 g)
1/2 packed dark brown sugar (80 g)
1/2 tsp salt (4 g)
1 tsp vanilla (5 g)
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate (225 g), coarsely and unevenly chopped
1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped (optional)
Coarse or flaky sea salt, for finishing (optional but highly recommended)
In medium bowl, use an electric mixer to cream the butter until smooth. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add sugar, brown sugar, and salt. Cream mixture on medium speed until it is smooth, about 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Add egg and vanilla and beat on low for about 15 seconds, or just until they are fully incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Placing sifter over bowl, measure out flour and baking soda, and sift into the wet mixture. Fold mixture with a rubber spatula, pausing about halfway through to add the chocolate pieces and nuts. Mix until just incorporated. Do not over mix.
For the best results, place the dough in spoonfuls in down the middle of a sheet of parchment or wax paper, forming a log about 1 1/2 inches wide and 12 inches long. Fold the parchment over, sealing the log. Chill overnight. Using a knife with a thin sharp blade, slice chilled dough into 1/3-inch-thick rounds and place them 2 inches apart on parchment-line baking sheets. Bake following directions below. (Dough will keep well, tightly wrapped, in the fridge for one week, or in the freezer for up to one month. Thaw frozen dough at room temperature for 30 minutes before slicing)
If baking right away, spoon heaping, irregular spoonfuls of dough 2 inches apart on parchment-lined baking sheet. Sprinkle with a flurry of coarse or flaky sea salt.
Whether you chilled or not: Preheat oven to 350 F. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven. Bake one sheet at a time for 12-15 minutes, until lightly browned. Remove from oven and slide the parchment onto a cooling rack. Let cool at least 5 minutes before serving.