We’re here to talk about (almost) everyone’s favorite cookie (and I’m not talking about the popular creme-filled chocolate sandwich cookie.)
It seems the world has an opinion about chocolate chip cookies and how they should be, but I think the perfection of a chocolate chip cookie– or any cookie, for that matter– depends on how you like it.
Cookies are a versatile dessert of endless combinations of flavors and they’re perfect for snacking when your sweet tooth kicks in. Storebought cookies are fine, sure: you can’t beat a handful of Chips Ahoy with a cold glass of milk on any given night, but we want something better that’s just as easy and twice as delicious.
But first, I have a confession to make. I didn’t like chocolate chip cookies as a kid.
Well, it’s not that I didn’t enjoy them… after all, a cookie is a cookie (unless it’s oatmeal raisin), but they were never my first choice. I was the oddball who preferred sugar cookies or plain oatmeal cookies over chocolate chip any day for one reason: they were always soft in the center. I’ve run into plenty of cookies like chocolate chip (and especially peanut butter) where the texture is dry and crumbly throughout, resulting in a sad cookie with terrible taste.
My tastes have changed over the years, and I’ve finally come to recognize and recreate what the ultimate chocolate chip cookie is to me.
In my opinion, chocolate chip cookies should be slightly underbaked to keep the ooey-gooey-ness even after they’ve been stored for a few days. I like my cookies just soft enough so they still don’t fall apart when they’ve fully cooled.
I wanted to experiment and try to make my own coveted chocolate chip cookie recipe from scratch, but I’ll admit that I was hesitant to tackle this at first.
I used all-purpose flour in this recipe, but during my research on what makes a good cookie, I noticed that many bakers tend to use bread flour in their recipes for extra chew.
Feel free to use either, but AP is the go-to here because of its versatility. Combine the flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium-sized bowl and whisk until mixed. Make sure to spoon and level your flour before adding it to the bowl– just scooping the flour with your measuring cup will always result in too much flour in your recipe and a cakey, overly-dry cookie.
In a separate bowl, combine both sugars and then add the brown butter. Browned butter is the staple to this recipe as it lends extra caramelized flavor to the dough.
Brown butter is easy once you get the hang of it- just remember to whisk constantly until brown specks start to form and all the water has boiled out of the melted butter. You also want to watch for the color change and pay attention to the smell– it will start to look a little like caramel and smell like it, too.
Place your butter in a pan on the stove and turn the heat to medium-low. Keep an eye on things once the butter melts and starts to boil. You’ll notice the water beginning to bubble and boil out, and this is good.
It’s a sign to start whisking consistently as well. The color will begin to darken and smell rich, but it isn’t done yet. After a few minutes of vigorous boiling and whisking, the butter will begin to look like caramel and take on a nutty, butterscotch smell. At this point, you should start to see tiny brown flecks swirling around, and this is what you want! Turn off the heat and remove the butter just before it turns black and begins to smell acrid.
Note: you can use the brown butter while it’s still hot, but be aware it may affect the outcome of the texture of your cookies. I’ve done this before because I was too impatient to wait, and ended up with flat, lifeless, and greasy cookies. Another disadvantage of the butter being hot when you add it too quickly is that it may cook the eggs before they have a chance to combine with the rest of the mixture. (Scrambled eggs in your batter is a nightmare, by the way.)
This time I waited until the butter cooled to room temperature and then added it to the sugars. I used a hand mixer to beat the butter and sugar until it was creamy and light.
Next, I added the eggs and vanilla and mixed those in until they were just combined. Last came the flour, baking soda, and salt. Be careful not to overmix here– you don’t want to see any dry pockets of flour anywhere after you’re done mixing, but only mix until everything is just combined– overmixing results in a tough texture from overdeveloped gluten.
Once everything has come together, it’s time to add the chocolate. Forget the hand mixer (or whisk!) for this step and grab a spoon.
Note: I used three different kinds of chocolate in this recipe: milk chocolate pieces, semi-sweet chocolate chips, and white chocolate chunks. I would have added a little bit of dark chocolate as well, but I was trying to use up what I had on hand.
Pour the chocolate over the top of the batter and take care to gently fold the chocolate into the batter until fully incorporated, again being careful not to overmix.
PSA: Don’t bake the cookies yet! Try a bite of the dough if you must, but just trust me on this one. You have to wait for this reward! Portion out the cookies on a parchment or silicone-lined baking sheet– I used a cookie scoop for this, but a 1/4 measure or regular spoon works fine as well– then pop them in the fridge for at least 30 minutes, but overnight is preferable.
‘Aging’ the cookie dough in this way helps to develop the flavor of these cookies, which really makes a big difference as far as the brown butter and sugars are concerned.
Not to mention that chilling the dough also allows the butter to set. If you were to try and bake these cookies just after mixing the dough, you’d have a melted mass of Franken-cookie in your oven.
So into the fridge they go until they’re well-chilled and ready to bake. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and evenly space the cookie mounds on a parchment-lined baking sheet. You can use the same sheet you chilled them on, just make sure to space them out evenly because they will spread a bit.
Since I used a cookie scoop, my first test bake with these cookies turned them into more of a cakey chocolate chip that was crispy on the outside and soft in the center, but this wasn’t what I was going for. I wanted a flat cookie that was just slightly crispy at the edges but still ooey-gooey and slightly underbaked in the center. (picture)
After letting the chilled dough sit out on the counter for about 20 minutes, I took each ball of dough and smashed them flat before putting them on the baking sheet.
And voila! Ten minutes later I pulled the most perfect (for us, at least!) chocolate chip cookies I’d ever made from scratch out of the oven.
I let them cool on the pan for a few minutes and then placed them on a wire rack to finish cooling more evenly.
And there you have it! Serve them warm with a glass of milk, or top them with homemade vanilla ice cream! And feel free to increase the cooking time depending on your cookie texture preference– these certainly wouldn’t be bad as a crispy chocolate chip cookie!
If you’re the world’s pickiest Cookie Monster and you decide to give these a try, please let us know! I’m always looking for tips and tricks to improve my baking and find out what works best for me.
What’s your favorite type of cookie? Let us know in the comments below!
2 c. All purpose flour, spooned and leveled
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. salt
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1/2 c. packed brown sugar (light or dark is fine)
1 c. butter (2 sticks), browned and cooled
1 tsp. vanilla extract