Few things are worthy of a quest.
The Holy Grail, the Ark of the Covenant and the Fountain of Youth? No.
True love, flattering jeans and the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe? Yes.
Many bakers spend their lives testing chocolate chip cookie recipes, looking for “The One.”
This is it.
Last summer, The New York Times ran a fascinating story on the “quest for the perfect chocolate chip cookie,” which included the fact that the Tollhouse Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe Nestlé prints on its bags of chocolate morsels left out a step.
According to the article, Ruth Graves Wakefield, who invented the chocolate chip cookie for her Tollhouse Inn in the 1930s, wrote that the dough should be chilled overnight.
This revelation inspired NYT writer David Leite to interview New York bakery owners and pastry chefs about their chocolate chip cookie secrets, and what he found out was:
1. Time matters. You should let the dough rest overnight, but a 36-hour rest is prime. That gives the dry ingredients time to fully soak up the eggs, creating a dough that’s exceptionally dry.
2. Size matters. You’ll be measuring the dough in a 1/3 measuring cup to create cookies that are about 5″ so you can enjoy all the different textures. The outside edge will be golden brown and crisp, the center will be light and soft and chewy, and between the two you’ll find a ring where those textures intertwine.
3. Salt matters. Just before you slide your dough into the oven, add a sprinkle of sea salt. That small touch will add an unexpected complexity and a little bite to a simple sweet. And if you forget the salt on a tray of these cookies, you will know. Trust me.
From all of the chefs’ suggestions and his own research, Leite adapted Jacques Torres’ classic chocolate chip cookie recipe and created what’s known as the “New York Times Chocolate Chip Cookie.” The recipe is dead simple and takes little “active” time, but the results are so predictably perfect, I’ve given away tins as gifts.
If you bookmarked the NYT Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe last year and still haven’t gotten around to it, think of a friend who could use a pick-me-up and give them a try. You will feel like all things perfect are born of your fingertips.
P.S. The recipe calls for fèves (oval-shaped pieces of chocolate), because they melt easily. I’ve had the best luck with the Guittard 61% Cacao Semisweet Chocolate wafers available at gourmet groceries, but in a pinch, high-quality chocolate chips will work.
Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from The New York Times, David Leite and Jacques Torres
Yield: 1 1/2 dozen 5-inch cookies.
- 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
- 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 (see note)
- Sea salt
- Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Set aside.
- 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. 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.
- When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Set aside.
- Scoop 6 3 1/2-ounce mounds of dough (about 1/3 cup) 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.
Note: Fèves, oval-shaped chocolate pieces, are usually available at Fresh Market, Whole Foods and Williams-Sonoma.