Thursday, May 5, 2011

Cook's Illustrated Chocolate Chip Cookies: Are They Really Perfect? Yes!

As a serious baker I have tried more than my (and everyone else's) fair share of chocolate chip cookie recipes. While I love them, I realized after making the Cook’s Illustrated ( version that I wasn't serious about making the perfect chocolate chip cookie. I was a hack. And if being a bad hack were possible, then that's what I was. I may as well tell the truth.

With shame do I now reflect on past, lame efforts to produce a scrumptious round of chocolatey goodness. Confession is supposed to be good for the soul, right? Ok, here goes . . . I admit to using light brown sugar instead of dark. Even worse, I confess to having put old, dead brown sugar in the microwave to soften it up before using it. I know, I know -- it's disgraceful. Is it any wonder that my homemade chocolate chip cookies often tasted little better than the flavorless ones found on the supermarket shelf?

But I changed my ways.

Thanks to the Cook's Illustrated recipe.

Not kidding.

I admit that I thought that some of the steps were a little over-the-top. Use a whisk and not a mixer? Don't use a non-stick pan to melt the butter? Mix unmelted butter into the melted butter? Turn the cookie sheet halfway through the baking time?

"They're just chocolate chip cookies. It's not that serious," I screamed to no one in particular as I painstakingly worked my way through the recipe.

But it was and is. I sensed that Cook's Illustrated was on to something that I did not want to miss.

As I followed the recipe, I realized that making a superior, crunchy yet chewy chocolate chip cookie takes some effort. I'm grateful that Cook's Illustrated went to the trouble to put together the perfect recipe.

I'll never be flippant about making chocolate chip cookies again!

I promise.

Cook's Illustrated Chocolate Chip Cookies


1 3/4cups unbleached all-purpose flour (8 3/4 ounces)
1/2teaspoon baking soda
14tablespoons unsalted butter (1 3/4 sticks)
1/2cup granulated sugar (3 1/2 ounces)
3/4cups packed dark brown sugar (5 1/4 ounces) (see note)
1teaspoon table salt
2teaspoons vanilla extract
1large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 1/4cups semisweet chocolate chips or chunks (see note)
3/4cup chopped pecans or walnuts, toasted (optional)


1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 large (18- by 12-inch) baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk flour and baking soda together in medium bowl; set aside.

2. Heat 10 tablespoons butter in 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat until melted, about 2 minutes.

cooking, swirling pan constantly until butter is dark golden brown and has nutty aroma, 1 to 3 minutes.

Remove skillet from heat and, using heatproof spatula, transfer browned butter to large heatproof bowl.

Stir remaining 4 tablespoons butter into hot butter until completely melted.

3. Add both sugars, salt, and vanilla to bowl with butter and whisk until fully incorporated.

Add egg and yolk and whisk until mixture is smooth with no sugar lumps remaining, about 30 seconds.

Let mixture stand 3 minutes, then whisk for 30 seconds. Repeat process of resting and whisking 2 more times until mixture is thick, smooth, and shiny.

Using rubber spatula or wooden spoon, stir in flour mixture until just combined, about 1 minute.

Stir in chocolate chips and nuts (if using), giving dough final stir to ensure no flour pockets remain.

4. Divide dough into 16 portions, each about 3 tablespoons (or use #24 cookie scoop). Arrange 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets, 8 dough balls per sheet. (Smaller baking sheets can be used, but will require 3 batches.)

5. Bake cookies 1 tray at a time until cookies are golden brown and still puffy, and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft, 10 to 14 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking. Transfer baking sheet to wire rack; cool cookies completely before serving.