The Internet is full of recipes claiming to be the Best Chocolate Chip Cookie Ever. There are fake Mrs. Fields’ cookie recipes, old family recipes, bald rip-offs of the Toll House Cookie recipe from the back of the chocolate chip bag and many, many recipes of dubious, unknown pedigree.
Most of these recipes yield cookies which are mediocre to barely satisfactory.
What if an experienced food scientist with very strong opinions about what makes the perfect chocolate chip cookie set out to create the ultimate incarnation of this treat? What if he baked over 100 batches of cookie to find the perfect recipe? What if he went through 32 lbs. of flour and made over 1,500 cookies?
Enter J. Kenji López-Alt. He has absolutely nailed it. These cookies have the perfect balance between crunchy edges and chewy centers. Browning the butter before adding it to the dough really accentuates the richness and nuttiness of the cookies. And the little touch of kosher salt on top gives little bursts of bright flavor as you chew them.
López-Alt is the Chief Creative Officer at Serious Eats and former editor of Cook’s Illustrated. I first encounter him when I was searching for a recipe for authentic Tacos al Pastor at home. His recipe and the detailed explanation of how he developed it was invaluable in developing my own technique. Since then I’ve used his beer cooler sous vide method on bison and dry aged rib-eyes and many other recipes.
The results have been uniformly excellent.
I won’t reprint the cookie recipe. You can find that here. I highly recommend you read the story behind his quest for the perfect cookie, too. Half food science tutorial, half lab notebook, you’ll learn a lot about baking from it.
A Couple of Lessons Learned
I have several batches of these cookies under my belt now and I’ve learned a couple of things about working with this dough.
The dough rests overnight in the refrigerator. López-Alt claims this makes them brown better and results in a higher, chewier cookie. I haven’t tested that claim myself. I’m willing to trust him on this one.
One consequence of the overnight rest is that the dough is quite cold when you start baking. López-Alt designed the rest of the recipe (oven temperature, etc.) for that cold dough.
I’m currently down to one small oven (I’m starting to remodel my kitchen) which can only handle one tray at a time. That means it takes me a while bake four trays and that gives the dough time to come up to room temperature. The first time I made these cookies the ones from the last tray were significantly thinner and crunchier than those on the first two trays.
Lesson – Return the dough to the frig between trays and give your baking sheets plenty of time to cool before you scoop out the next tray-full.
As I mentioned above, López-Alt sprinkles a tiny bit of kosher salt on the cookies as they come out of the oven. Personally, I love that. Both how it looks and how it tastes.
My family, OTOH, thinks it makes the cookies too salty.
Feel free to omit that flourish if your family feels the same way.