The Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie
I don't know about you but I'm always on a quest to find the ultimate chocolate chip cookie. If there's a chocolate chip cookie for sale, chances are I'm buying it. Why? Because #willpower is nonexistent when you add chocolate chip cookies to the equation. They are my weakness. I'm always hunting for that perfect cookie. It's crispy on the outside, chewy on the inside, not too sweet, and just a little salty. Basically, it's like a unicorn. You've heard the tales but does it really exist. IT DOES. THIS IS IT. It is my ultimate chocolate chip cookie. If your definition of the perfect cookie resembles mine, read on. If it doesn't, read on anyway, because maybe it's your dad's favorite type of chocolate chip cookie and you might want to make his day and bake them for him.
Side note: I shared these cookies with quite a few people, so rest assured these were tried by a decent sized test group and my favorite comment went something like this: "I've had a lot of cookies in my life, and this is definitely the best." I swear I didn't make that up (although it totally sounds like something I could have made up, I know).
Here's a little background and what it took to write this recipe. I tested five different variations of this recipe, which all stemmed from extensive research of "the best chocolate chip cookie" and "the perfect chocolate chip cookie", looking up the recipes of some of my favorite bakers/chefs/bloggers and (5Xs!!!) testing out all sorts of ratios, additional ingredients, etc., etc. I don't want to bore you with all the details but I will break down the ones I found to be crucial.
This recipe calls for both all purpose flour AND bread flour. Why? Because higher protein bread flour helps yield the following properties to your cookie: a slightly darker color, a little more chew, and that crisp, crunch on the outside. How? Science. No, but really, it is. It's all about the ratios and ingredients. If you took one ingredient out or altered it, you might not get the same result because bread flour can yield a darker color, crispiness OR chew depending on the liquids and fats added to the recipe.
Next, brown butter has been added to this recipe because if I had my way, brown butter would be added to every recipe. That nutty flavor makes all things better. Cookies, cakes, and risotto are the first three things that come to mind but I bet you could fire off your own list pretty easily. Brown butter is only half of the butter equation though. This recipe also includes softened, room temperature butter and this brown and softened butter duo also lends to the crisp outside, chewy inside unicorn factor.
Baking soda is the next crucial element in this recipe. I've tested the golden standard one teaspoon of baking soda, a few combos of baking soda and baking powder, and then accidentally tested just half a teaspoon of baking soda (I was using new measuring spoons and read them wrong) and one teaspoon of baking soda won by a landslide. The cookies with baking soda and baking powder were all too cakey and the one with just a half a teaspoon, didn't really spread and kinda resembled hockey pucks. Baking soda is the proven winner here and it also lends to that chew on the inside, which I'm obsessed with.
These next few elements are crucial, according to me. A tiny bit of espresso powder. It really rounds out the chocolate notes because chocolate and coffee just go together. Trust me. A smidgen of golden syrup. It adds an indescribable, almost candy-like sweetness without overwhelming the cookie because you're only adding a teaspoon. Ever since discovering Jeni's amazing ice cream base, I've been drawn to the idea of adding just a little bit of something extra to round out the texture of an already amazing recipe. The golden syrup does that (think chew). I also added an egg yolk for chewiness. Are you sick of hearing that word yet? Sorry but it's part of the unicorn equation.
I used dark brown sugar, instead of the typical light brown sugar. While it does add to the already darker coloring of the cookie, it also has a more pronounced molasses flavor that helps to add depth to this already pretty deep cookie. Salt. Salt is also added, well it's actually sprinkled, onto the top of every cookie. Don't skip this if at all possible. A little salt goes a long way, especially if you're using a wonderful flake salt like Jacobsen or Maldon. Sweet and salty go together. They do. Just ask peanut butter and jelly. I also used a combination of vanilla bean paste and vanilla bean extract. Recently, I was flipping through David Lebowitz's My Paris Kitchen and he mentioned that Europeans don't really use vanilla extract but instead use actual vanilla beans or paste, as it imparts a different flavor. This stuck with me and was therefore applied (sorta) to this cookie recipe.
The final secret ingredient is the only one you can chose to omit but I recommend you keep it. A quarter cup of both walnuts and pecans, chopped to popcorn kernel sized pieces really pull this cookie together to be THE cookie of your (my) dreams. They add a little bit of crunch that breaks up that chewiness on the inside as well as enhance the already lovely nutty flavor from the browned butter.
A couple tips, I won't call them pro tips, because I'm not sure I'm a pro but here there are nonetheless. I love this one; it's something I learned from the test kitchen when I worked at Williams-Sonoma's corporate office (yes, it's kind of a no brainer but it wasn't to me). Scoop out your dough before you chill it. It makes it 100% easier when you go to bake your cookies. Also, give those cookie dough mounds a little tap (a.k.a. press them down very slightly) before they go into the fridge (do it before because once they chill, it'll be harder to do). Basically, you're just pressing them till that mound on the top disappears. This will help your cookies spread out more evenly when they bake. Finally, don't skimp on the fridge time. Please let them chill for at least an hour. It's going to allow the flour to absorb into those awesome butters and eggs. It also allows the flour to relax and don't we all want to relax a little?
Ok, that's it. You're ready to bake these mythical cookies. They are the ultimate cookie, just ask the guy I mentioned above. And Moses. And a few of his coworkers. And maybe my neighbor.
The Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe
Adapted from Joy The Baker
Makes 24 cookies
- 1 c. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened at room temperature
- 1 c. packed dark brown sugar
- 1/4 c. granulated white sugar (I used baker's sugar)
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 tsp. vanilla paste
- 1 tsp. golden syrup (I used Lyle's)
- 1 large egg, at room temperature
- 1 large egg yolk, at room temperature
- 1 1/2 c. all-purpose flour
- 3/4 c. bread flour
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. instant espresso (I used Medaglia D'Oro)
- 1 c. dark chocolate chips (I recommend you use at least 60% cacao or higher)
- 1/4 c. walnuts, chopped to popcorn kernel size (optional)
- 1/4 c. pecans, chopped to popcorn kernel size (optional)
- Flake salt, for sprinkling on tops
- Stand mixer
- Measuring spoons and cups
- Mixing bowls
- Small saucepan
- Silicone spatula
- 2 baking sheets
- Parchment paper or silpat mats
- Wire cooling rack
- Cutting board
- Chef's knife
- 1 1/2 Tbsp. cookie scoop
- In a small saucepan, melt 1/2 cup of butter (1 stick) over medium heat. Carefully swirl the pan a few times but resist the urge to stir! Don't be alarmed when it foams or when it starts to crackle--this is normal!
- Once crackling has stopped, continue swirling pan and watch the butter carefully. You'll start to smell it getting nutty as well as see tiny golden brown bits in the bottom of your pan. As soon as those bits get any darker than a golden brown, remove the pan from heat and immediately pour butter mixture into a small bowl. Don't leave out the bits; pour them in too! Set aside and allow butter to cool for at least 20 minutes.
- After browned butter has cooled, whip remaining half of softened butter (1/2 c.) with dark brown sugar for 4 minutes in stand mixer on medium-low speed, or until the mixture is very smooth.
- Add cooled brown butter and granulated sugar and beat for 2 minutes, or until smooth. The mixture should lighten in color and look airier.
- Add vanilla extract, vanilla paste, and golden syrup and beat for 1 minute.
- Add egg and egg yolk and beat for 1 minute more.
- Combine all-purpose flour, bread flour, baking soda, salt, and espresso powder in a mixing bowl and add dry mixture to wet mixture. Beat on low speed until the dough just comes together.
- Remove the bowl from the mixer and use spatula to fold in the chocolate chips, walnuts, and pecans. Mix until just combined and all loose flour bits are incorporated.
- Scoop dough using 1 1/2 Tbsp. cookie scoop into heaping, rounded scoops (roughly 2 Tbsp. and you can use a 2 Tbsp. scoop if you prefer) onto parchment paper or silpat mat on a baking sheet. Flatten each mound very slightly, just until the hump is gone. Cover sheet with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.
- Once dough is chilled, preheat oven to 350°F.
- Transfer chilled dough to two silpat mat or parchment paper lined baking sheets. Be sure to leave at least 1 1/2" to 2" between each disc, as cookies will spread.
- Sprinkle each cookie with flake salt.
- Bake for 13 to 14 minutes, until edges are browned.
- Remove from oven, and let cookies rest on baking sheet for 5 minutes to set, then transfer to wire rack to cool completely.
- Serve and enjoy!