I have been on a quest for the best chocolate chip cookie recipe ever since my not-so-successful attempt at them a couple of weeks back. During my online searches, I came across the recipe from Cooks Illustrated magazine since so, so many commenters on blogs and other recipes have said that this was the best EVER. So I was convinced to try it out.
While the recipe calls for the same ingredients as 99.5% of other recipes do, they changed two big things in the whole cookie making process. First, the butter is melted until it turns dark golden brown. And, I must say, this is absolutely genius. Brown butter is AMAZEBALLS. I am not kidding. Butter is awesome to begin with, right? But, melting it and cooking it past its melting point just unleashes a nutty, caramell-y, toffee-ish aroma (and taste, too, I presume) that is just… heavenly. I didn’t think I could love butter even more than I already do.
Anyway, the other additional step in the recipe is that the butter & sugar mixture is made to sit for about 10 minutes total during the mixing process. They say that this makes the flavors time to meld together. I guess that makes sense. So, I did all that and ended up with this:
So how did an cookie recipe yield brownies? Or, as my sister has baptized them, “brookies”? Well, this is what happens when the chocolate chips you mix in melts into the batter. The batter was still too hot (I really didn’t notice, even if I mixed the flour in by hand) and the chips melted almost on contact. I was actually screaming my head off while this was happening, as in “The chocolate is meltiiiiiiiiiiiiiing! Nooooooooooooooooo!”. I was so disappointed, I actually felt like crying. I was torn between throwing the batter out or to still try and salvage something out of it. I couldn’t bear the thought of all that French butter (yes, my Paris trip has turned me into a butter snob), chocolate and walnuts going to waste, so I dumped everything into a brownie pan and prayed that the end result would be edible, at least.
And it was. More than edible, it was delicious. They were crisp and toasted at the edges and moist and chewy at the center. They were really good. And not just in a oh-they’re-not-bad-for-something-that-should’ve-been-a-cookie sense. As in they were legitimately yummy. Ask my family, who ate them a la mode for dessert.
Despite the disaster-turned-success of the brookies, I still wanted to get that recipe right. So, even after baking the brookies and cooking dinner (more on that soon), I gave it another go. This time, I was careful to make sure that the butter cooled down enough before I added anything. I actually submerged my bowl in cold water, to cool it down before I added anything in. I tested the batter with my own fingertips to make sure it was cool. I added in the chocolate chips with bated breath and they did not melt. BUT.
The batter was too liquid, too fluid to be a cookie batter. It was also a little mealy from the sugar. I mixed and mixed, and even put the dough in the fridge to chill it. The dough held its shape, it was still too soft and thin for me and I could still feel the sugar in the batter. For the life of me, I didn’t understand what I did wrong, since I cooled the butter down completely this time. But again, I refused to throw the batter out so I scooped the dough to the sheet and baked them anyway. And this is what I ended up with:
what my brother called “Pancake Cookie”, for obvious reasons. I was right, the dough was too thin and runny, so the five cookies I pre scooped out all melted into one another. Again, I felt like crying and considered throwing everything out gain. But I tasted the Pancake Cookie and it was delicious. Moist (even if it was that thin!) in the middle and wonderfully
burnt crispy on the sides. There was hope.
And that hope came in the form of flour. I put in another half cup of flour in the batter and it really helped. The batter firmed up quickly and smoothened, too. It was no longer mealy. Encouraged by this, I scooped out a batch. They still thinned out rather quickly in the oven, but each cookie was still an individual cookie (although some cookies’ edges did touch). This batch didn’t turn out to be Pancake Cookie #2. Hallelujah.
So I decided to chill the batter for much longer this time. I chilled them up to the point where the batter was almost like ice cream that’s been in the freezer for a couple of days. They were smooth, they held their shape, and I could actually form them into the balls I saw in the blog posts. The batter was perfect.
And the cookies?
Aaaaaaaaaaah. They were a little crisp on the edges but perfectly moist and chewy in the middle. And apart from just the texture, the cookie itself, the actual bread of the cookie was wonderful. There were hints of caramel and toffee (thank you, brown butter! I love you!) that just gave it that much more depth, that much more flavor. And when you combine it with a gooey semi-sweet chocolate or the salty bite of toasted walnuts? Nomnomnomnomnom.
So the Cooks Illustrated recipe is definitely in the running for best chocolate chip recipe ever. It’s definitely resulted in the best cookie of the three recipes I’ve tried this month. And also in the most stressful (non-work related) day I’ve had in a month.