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:
- No added ingredients, like peanut butter, coconut or oatmeal.
- 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.
- Room temperature butter is a must. No substitutes. No melting butter.
- Equal amounts granulated and brown sugar.
- Baking soda and power for browning and cookie structure.
- Too much flour: cakey and too little: no craggy, irregular texture.
- 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,