The Quest for the Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie Part I: America’s Test Kitchen Recipe

Oh my. There are as many “best” chocolate chip cookie recipes in the world as there are cooks. After some serious scouring of the foodie community’s blogs, I deduced that America’s Test Kitchen’s “Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies” would be my best bet.

For those of you that aren’t familiar with this recipe already (apparently I was one of the few who wasn’t), it systematically dissects, and improves upon, the classic Nestle Toll House recipe. You know the one – on the package of every heavenly bag of chocolate morsels you’ve bought since you were a kid.

A classic recipe, a nearly perfect recipe… but this is the perfect recipe. Chocolate chip cookie afficiandos will appreciate the step-by-step breakdown of the improvements America’s Test Kitchen made to the original Toll House Recipe. Perhaps you will even keep these tips at the back of your mind for a variety of recipes.

1.) Bake your cookies one tray at a time in the very center of your oven. This gives you a perfect, evenly textured cookie. Even if you rotate the two trays throughout baking, one tray inevitably ends up browner, softer, etc. than the other one.

2.) Use more brown sugar than white. Using equal amounts brown and white sugar, as in the Toll House recipe, leads to a cookie lacking in the oh-so-sought-after blissfully chewy texture. Using more brown sugar gives you this.

3.) Use melted, browned butter. Is there anything more divine than browned butter? It enhances the flavor of nearly everything you use it with due to its intoxicating nutty flavor. Browned butter also enhances the chewiness of the cookie, whereas plain ol’ creamed butter leads to a cakier-textured cookie.

4.) Use more egg yolks than egg whites. It further contributes to the chewy bliss of your cookie.

5.) Make bigger cookies. Oh yes, don’t you love this step? By simply rolling larger dough balls (which we all secretly want to do anyway), you will instantly create a heavenly variety of textures within a single cookie. The outside will be quite crispy, and will become increasingly chewier until you reach the center of the cookie. The center will be the epitome of chewy perfection.

6.) “Whisk and Wait.” This is the most time-consuming alteration to the Toll House recipe. It’s very “technical” (well as technical as you can get with a chocolate chip cookie recipe), and rests on the notion that by gradually beating the sugar into the liquid ingredients, you are allowing for the sugar to dissolve more evenly. It goes like this: you whisk the eggs into the sugar, let ingredients rest for 3 minutes, beat for 30 seconds more, let the ingredients rest for 3 minutes, beat for 30 seconds, let rest for 3 minutes, and then beat one final time for 30 seconds. WHEW! Oh, but it’s so worth it. Gives your muscles a workout, too. Maybe you won’t feel as guilty eating a dozen of them in one night after expelling such a great amount of elbow grease. Maybe?

7.) Sprinkle a little sea salt on top. This is actually taken from the New York Times chocolate chip cookie recipe, and sounded so lovely that I just had to add it to my ATC batch. The NYT recipe is, for sure, the next chocolate chip cookie recipe on my list!

These are the salted guys!

The full cookie recipe can be found over with the lovely folks at Cook’s Illustrated:
America’s Test Kitchen Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe


8 responses to “The Quest for the Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie Part I: America’s Test Kitchen Recipe

  1. I use almost this exact recipe but haven’t tried the stir and wait method.

    I do, however, age the dough for 36 hours. It makes a notable difference in both the flavor, color, and texture of the cookies. It’s well worth the wait!

  2. I came across this recipe via your lovely photo of these cookies on TasteSpotting. Had to try them!

  3. Wow – these look great! I wish I understood the science behind all that tweaking!

  4. Mmmm! Those look absolutely spectacular! I think you have the process for the perfect cookie down pat!

  5. Thanks for this Emily. These are on my next batch-to-make list!

  6. Pingback: 2010 in review | Habitually Hungry

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