What makes perfect chocolate chip cookies?
Perfect chocolate chip cookies are the holy grail of baking. There is almost nothing better than a perfect chocolate chip cookie. It is the ultimate dessert comfort food. And there is almost nothing worse (well, dessert-wise) than a poorly executed one. And due to their perennial popularity, there are, unfortunately, a lot of inferior chocolate chip cookies out in the world.
Now some of these less-than-perfect versions out there may spark a certain amount of nostalgia for you. Are you a crispy Chips Ahoy fan? Or perhaps a chewier Pepperidge Farm devotee? I hold a special spot in my heart – and taste buds – for Otis Spunkmeyer cookies: pre-formed chunks of dough that were magically served warm and ooey-gooey from a little cart in my high school quad. (Side note- I have since spent twenty-plus years as a high school educator and not once have I been on a campus that served these at any point during the school day. I guess we need to chalk that up as a casualty of the generally positive changes in rules governing school food options!)
I also have been through several phases in my life – as a middle school student, a college student, and as a young teacher – when a roll of Nestle’s or Pillsbury’s cookie dough was a permanent fixture in my refrigerator. There was little better as an after-school snack – whether taking classes or teaching them. After scooping a few dollops of dough onto a cookie sheet and sliding them into the oven they were warm and gooey in seven to ten minutes.
A Modern Update: Perfect Chocolate Cookies
What I know about myself is that I often want a chocolate chip cookie without very much planning (like from a tube), and warm is the best (maybe only!) way to truly enjoy one (like good ole Otis). What my matured taste buds and desire to stay away from heavily processed foods have influenced is the way I achieve a warm, nearly instant cookie experience.
The secret to this dough, adapted from Cook’s Illustrated, is the browned butter. The toffee-like flavors are unbeatable when paired with your new favorite chocolate chips. I am a purist (and live in a household of people with nut sensitivities) so I never put nuts in my chocolate chip cookies – but you certainly may if you like. I keep this dough in my freezer nearly all the time – perfect for the next team snack, teacher appreciation event, or, of course, after-school treat. Enjoy your perfect chocolate chip cookies!
Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies
- 1 ¾ cups unbleached all-purpose flour 8 3/4 ounces
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- 14 tablespoons unsalted butter 1 3/4 sticks
- ½ cup granulated sugar 3 1/2 ounces
- ¾ cup packed dark brown sugar 5 1/4 ounce(see note
- 1 teaspoon table salt
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 1 large egg
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 ¼ cups semisweet chocolate chips or chunks you should consider Guittard
- ¾ cup chopped pecans or walnuts toasted (optional)
- Combine flour and baking soda together in medium bowl; set aside.
- Heat 10 tablespoons butter in 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat until melted, about 2 minutes. Continue cooking, swirling pan constantly until butter is dark golden brown and has nutty aroma, 1 to 3 minutes. DO NOT WALK AWAY – butter can go from golden to black in an instant.
- Place remaining 4 tablespoons of butter in a large, heatproof bowl. Pour browned butter over the top and stir with a heatproof spatula until fully melted.
- 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.
- Fold in flour mixture using a rubber spatula until just combined, about 1 minute. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts (if using), giving dough final stir to ensure no flour pockets remain.
- Chill dough for about 1 hour to make it easier to shape.
- Divide dough into desired portions – I often make “minis” but you can also use this dough in a mini-cast iron skillets or any size in between.
- Arrange portions on a baking sheet and freeze until solid. When frozen, place is an airtight storage container or bag.
- When ready to bake, remove desired number of cookies from freezer and place on cookie sheet, evenly spaced. Heat oven to 375 degrees.
- Bake cookies 1 tray at a time, rotating cookie sheet halfway through baking. Depending on size, and the amount of time they have thawed on the counter, the baking time will usually range from 10 to 15 minutes, or until desired doneness.
For more recipe ideas, follow me on Pinterest.