The chocolate chip cookie: it’s so simple, it’s difficult.
I have searched high and low for the perfect chocolate chip cookie. The past several afternoons, in particular, I’ve occupied myself with chocolate chip cookie baking. Most recipes produced flat, crisp, and unsightly confections. With the crystallized air pockets, utter lack of flavor depth, flatness, and crisp texture plaguing each cookie, I was becoming increasingly discouraged. Cookie batch after cookie batch was simply unacceptable; I accept nothing less than absolute perfection when it comes to chocolate chip cookies.
I tried recipes from Nestlé Tollhouse, Dorie Greenspan, All Recipes, and numerous other reputable sources, all to no avail. What the heck?! Where was that seemingly elusive, soft, chewy, not-cakey-in-the-least, bakery-esque chocolate chip cookie?
Despite frustration, I learned a lot from those failed attempts. Armed with a set of sure-fire techniques and an exacting recipe, I finally uncovered that idyllic cookie. This product of my blood, sweat, and tears has been worth every second of adversity.
As it just so happens, this recipe is also slightly lower in fat due to the reduced butter content (which, I’ve found, counterintuitively makes for a better cookie). Dark brown sugar lends a deep, rich flavor, accompanied by lots of vanilla, which further adds to the flavor profile. With copious amounts of brown sugar, rest assured these cookies will retain their soft texture.
I must preface this recipe with those sure-fire chocolate chip cookie techniques. Serving aesthetic, practical, and gastronomical purposes, they truly are worth the time and effort!
* Sift together your dry ingredients before combining them with the creamed butter, sugar, and egg. Or, like I do, pass them through a fine-mesh sieve.
* Be neurotic about measurements. Even better, use a scale! I provided weights for most of the ingredients in this recipe. For those with less mass, like the baking soda and salt, use the old school knife leveling approach. Small alterations of these ingredients can significantly change a recipe’s outcome.
* Ensure that your egg is at room temperature and your butter is somewhat softened (but not entirely soft, either). Chopping up the butter, and thereby increasing its surface area, will help hasten its softening.
* Be gentle when creaming together your butter and sugar. Cream together on medium speed and just until the mixture reaches a sandy consistency. Then, add your room temperature egg and vanilla, mixing just until incorporated (i.e. very briefly).
* Manually stir in your dry ingredients – don’t use your mixer. All at once, dump in your flour and chocolate chips. It may seem dry at first, but the flour will undoubtably become hydrated. Stir just until incorporated.
* Use parchment paper on your baking sheets. It makes life 1,789,234,987 times easier.
* Roll dough into balls. This will produce a gorgeous edge that softly curls underneath the cookie.
* Reserve some of the chocolate chips. Gently push them into the tops of the cookie balls right before baking.
* Never place cookie dough on a hot baking sheet – always use a cool one. You can rotate and reuse cooled parchment paper, but never recycle a baking sheet until it has returned to room temperature.
* Bake one batch at a time. Never simultaneously have more than one cookie sheet’s worth baking in the oven.
* Baking sheets also heavily factor into the cookie equation. I use plain, light metal baking sheets with a 1-inch rim. If you use air-insulated or dark baking sheets, adjust the baking time and temperature accordingly.
* Refrigerate dough in between batches. That is, while one batch is baking, refrigerate the bowl full of dough.
* Don’t become discouraged too quickly! In this recipe, for example, the cookies will puff up in the oven. However, once given an opportunity to cool, they deflate a little, creating that classic surface beautifully crinkled with chocolate chips.
* Under-bake them slightly, but allow them to sit on the warm cookie sheet for a while. Though they won’t completely finish baking, the slightly under-baked interior will set, yet remain soft and chewy.
Soft and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
Yield: 19 cookies
- 1-5/8 cup (195 g) unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (200 g) dark brown sugar, packed
- 4 Tablespoons (64 g) light salted butter, softened
- 1 large egg (52 g), at room temperature
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup (80 g) Ghirardelli semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1/4 cup (40 g) Ghirardelli semi-sweet chocolate chips, reserved
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Line several baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Sift together flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl, or pass them through a fine-mesh sieve.
- In a separate mixing bowl, cream together butter and brown sugar on medium speed just until a somewhat soft, sandy consistency is reached. Add egg and vanilla, mixing on low speed just until incorporated.
- Dump dry ingredients and 1/2 cup chocolate chips into mixing bowl. Stir wet and dry ingredients together just until combined.
- For each cookie, roll 30 grams (roughly 1 ounce) of dough into a ball and place onto lined baking sheet. Apportion no more than 6 cookies per sheet. Gently place 3-6 reserved chocolate chips onto each ball of dough.
- Refrigerate remaining dough. Bake cookies for about 11 minutes (cookies will bet set, yet look and feel under-baked). Transfer sheet from oven to a cool area and allow cookies to rest on sheet for at least 10-15 more minutes.
- While baked batch rests, repeat steps 5 and 6 with remaining dough.
* Note: These cookies taste best after being sealed in a container or covered, at room temperature, for 8 hours or overnight. This allows the under-baked dough to further set, creating a soft, chewy interior that melts in your mouth.