Last summer while perusing Pinterest I came across this cookie recipe from the blog For Me, For You. The title and notes in the pins caught my eye – Was this cookie really so good that I’d never want another chocolate chip cookie recipe? Was this really the be-all-end-all recipe for my absolute favorite cookie?
Well, it turns out that this is actually the New York Times Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe from 2008. The Times did a story in which they interviewed major New York City bakers on what made a great chocolate chip cookie great, then adapted a recipe from Jacques Torres and incorporated all the criteria that those bakers gave. After reading the article and the recipe, and all the notes that Kate Miss included in her blog post, I decided to hunt down the required flours and give it a go.
The recipe gives ingredients by both weight and volume. Since I didn’t own a scale, I went with my measuring cups and tried to be as precise as possible. I combined my dry ingredients and then followed the instructions to combine the wet ingredients. When it came time to add the dry ingredients to the mixer, I heeded Kate Miss’ warning and made sure to use my mixer shield. Even with the shield on, I looked at all that flour and was sure I was in for trouble. Sure enough, even with the shield and a towel, I lost probably a cup of flour onto the the mixer, the counter top, and the floor. I would have been frustrated if the flour explosion hadn’t been so ridiculous. I had flour in my hair; there was even flour on the dog who’d been sitting at my feet waiting for crumbs to fall.
But I pushed ahead anyway, finished the recipe, and refrigerated the dough overnight. I would have refrigerated for longer, but I had a pumpkin carving party to take the cookies to so I didn’t have the time. I pulled out the dough and let it rest on the counter for about a half an hour before baking, got out my newly-purchased cookie scoop and… yeah, dough was still hard as a rock. So I let it sit more, and fretted, and watched the clock ticking down to the time I’d be serving those cookies.
While the recipe recommends a 1/3 cup scoop (a standard traditional ice cream scoop) for a five-inch cookie, I knew that those cookies would be way to big for me, so I went with a 3 Tbsp scoop for 3-inch cookies. The cookies came out good. Really good, in fact. They were a little cake-y for my personal preference, but the flavor was great. I’d been nervous about the sea salt on the top and the bittersweet chips, that these might be too “adult” for the crowd of kids at the pumpkin carving, but they were a hit with everyone. Still, I wondered, would they have been better if I’d used a scale and not lost so much flour in the mixing process?
The short answer is yes. I made these again a couple of weeks ago, after I’d purchased a kitchen scale. I knew as soon as I measured out the brown sugar that this new batch would be chewier – even though I’d packed the brown sugar into the measuring cup the first time around, it wasn’t nearly as much brown sugar as when I measured by weight. And this time, instead of adding all the flour at once, I added about a cup and a half at a time, stirring it in with a spatula just enough that there wasn’t a pile of flour on top of the other ingredients, until it was all incorporated. I also used one bag of bittersweet chips and one bag of semi-sweet chips (both Ghirardelli), and let the dough rest in the fridge for the full 36 hours.
This time the cookies came out chewy, with even better flavor than the first time around. They were caramel-y and had just the right amounts of sweet and bitter flavors. I’m completely convinced now – this really is the best chocolate chip cookie recipe ever, and the only one I need to know.
A few notes on the ingredients:
Cake Flour: The only brand that any of the grocery stores near me carry is SoftasSilk by Pillsbury. It took me while to find it in the store, because it’s sold in a box, not a bag, and the box looks like a packaged cake mix! So if you can’t find it, check in the cake mixes or ask for assistance.
Chocolate chips: 2 bags of Ghirardelli bittersweet chips equal the 1 1/4 lbs. that the recipe calls for. If you sub semi-sweet chips, you’ll notice that the bags are actually 2 oz. larger. I did one of bag of each, and just added the full bag of semisweet chips, rather than reserving the spare 2 oz., as the chips are smaller.
Here’s the recipe, with my notes in parentheses:
(Use a kitchen scale and weigh the ingredients. It makes a big difference!)
2 cups minus 2 tablespoons (8 1/2 ounces) cake flour
1 2/3 cups (8 1/2 ounces) bread flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt (not sea salt, but kosher salt works well)
2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) light brown sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (8 ounces) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract
1 1/4 pounds bittersweet chocolate disks or fèves, at least 60 percent cacao content (use a high quality chocolate)
(Make sure all your ingredients are room temperature before beginning.)
1. Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Set aside. (You can also mix together with a whisk rather than sifting.)
2. Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars together until very light, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. Reduce speed to low, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds. (I added the dry ingredients at about 1 1/2 cups at a time to avoid a major flour blowout, and mixed in the flour – mostly with my spatula – just enough that it wasn’t sitting on top, to avoid over mixing. Once it was all in the bowl, I ran the mixer to combine everything.) Drop chocolate pieces in and incorporate them without breaking them. Press plastic wrap against dough and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours. Dough may be used in batches, and can be refrigerated for up to 72 hours.
3. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Set aside.
4. Scoop 6 3 1/2-ounce mounds of dough (the size of generous golf balls) onto baking sheet, making sure to turn horizontally any chocolate pieces that are poking up; it will make for a more attractive cookie. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and bake until golden brown but still soft, 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer sheet to a wire rack for 10 minutes, then slip cookies onto another rack to cool a bit more. Repeat with remaining dough, or reserve dough, refrigerated, for baking remaining batches the next day. Eat warm, with a big napkin. (I used a 3 tbsp. scoop for 3 1/4-inch cookies, and baked for 15 minutes exactly at 350 degrees.)
Yield: 1 1/2 dozen 5-inch cookies. (Or 30-35 3 1/4-inch cookies.)