Criteria for Chocolate Chip Cookie Judgment

Earlier this week, the food magazine, Epicurious, published their favorite chocolate cookie recipe. This is nothing new. There are thousands of “favorite” recipes online, each claiming perfection. But…this one is different. Not because it IS perfect but because it explains to us what and how it reached it’s version of chocolate chip cookie perfection.

The ideal cookie according to recipe author, Rhoda Boon,

“[…] has a slightly soft center, crisp edges, notes of butterscotch, a shiny cracked top, and pockets of chocolate throughout.”

With this ideality in mind, she proceeded to test recipes that adhered to two limiting conditions:

  1. No added ingredients, like peanut butter, coconut or oatmeal.
  2. No overnight dough.

The team chose 8 of the highest rated Epicurious cookie recipes along with the  classic reference of Nestle’s cookie recipe. They tried to combine the best attributes of each to create a new recipe that best represented the ideal cookie definition. You’ll have to read the article for all the nuances, but Ms. Boon talks us through five lessons learned from the process.

  1. Room temperature butter is a must. No substitutes. No melting butter.
  2. Equal amounts granulated and brown sugar.
  3. Baking soda and power for browning and cookie structure.
  4. Too much flour: cakey and  too little: no craggy, irregular texture.
  5. Chocolate chips have anti-melting agents, chop your own for extra melty pockets of chocolate.

I made the cookies and I may have made mistakes. No doubt it is a good recipe. May have added too much flour or cooked too long, or maybe followed it well, I can’t tell except that I’ve had better.  I learned that MY ideal cookie is soft and chewy, with more brown sugar than granulated. Thanks to the explained recipe process I can identify my preference. The recipe is NOT my ideal chocolate chip cookie but the process did show me why it is not so. It was a welcome learning lesson that most recipes do not offer.

We should all approach claims of ideality with suspicion but also use that experience to test and articulate our own preferences.

Next time you eat a chocolate chip cookie, ask yourself,

  • Do I like the texture (cakey, chewy, crumbly)?
  • Do I like the sweetness level?
  • Do I like flavor notes of butterscotch, molasses, vanilla?
  • Do I like additions like nuts, oatmeal, coffee and peanut butter?
  • Is there an aftertaste metallic or otherwise?
  • Does it look yummy?
  • Ponder a split second and then just eat it!

Thank you Rhonda Boon for your efforts and chocolate chip cookie guidance.

Wishing you all tasty efforts in finding your very own chocolate chip cookie perfection,




4 Weekend Cooking Experiments

Hungryphil here, reporting on this weekend’s cooking experiments, the victories and defeats, the yummy and not so yummy.

First up, Friday’s Fried Eggplant with tahini, balsamic drizzle (and a sprinkling of salt, pepper and sumac) Good taste but could have been cooked more. You can see the uncooked piece by the watermark. Still worth trying again. I liked the nutty smoothness of the tahini with the acidity of the balsamic.

Saturday and second, I attempted to make Bangladeshi “hat roti” (like a tortilla but softer and without fat in the dough). It is made by pouring the flour into boiling water, cooking it enough to absorb and rolling it out without the addition of much extra flour. When done correctly, it is soft, delicate, pillowy, warm, and wraps around halwas (sweet grain, nut or fruit paste, bars) or bhajis (dry vegetables) perfectly. It is a craft and a skill. I failed :o(

I tried pouring boiling water into a food processor with flour in the bowl in order to avoid the whole kneading a ball of hot dough with my hands unpleasantness.  Didn’t work. This will have to be a regular practice of skills, like making a colorless french omelet.

But. I did make the best paratha (a flaky fried flat bread) with the dough. The layers were light and crispy because there was no fat in the dough itself, only between the layers. From now on, this is how I’m making paratha. Mix dough without fat in the food processor, roll out, ghee, fold, roll out again, fry.

So, this experiment was a tie between food fail and fantastic. Sorry no pictures, tried to hide the evidence of failure and then in my excitement ate the paratha too fast to snap a pic. Now I also have a blog excuse to try it again.

Third, Korean Japchae and Bulgogi.

Bulgogi (Korean Beef BBQ 불고기)

Delicious and surprisingly easy.Worth making again. Score for me.

Fourth, Pumpkin Bread (with Cranberries and with Crystallized Ginger) and Chocolate Chip Cookies for fall college care packages. Here are the recipes:

Both were great recipes! The chocolate chip cookies were decadent and flavorful. The texture was just perfect as it’s namesake, crispy on the edges and chewy in the center. Perfect as is. Would make it again and again.

The pumpkin bread was also wonderful. I added cranberries to a batch and crystallized ginger to another. Both had pecans. The ginger is a bit aggressive and takes getting used to. In small, finely chopped portions it might be just right. That will take some tweaking.

Hope the kids enjoy the fall treats! Next time, more cookies!

Busy weekend but thankfully there is a lot to snack on in the kitchen this week.

Hoping you had a delicious weekend too,