Earlier this spring I resumed my quest for the perfect chocolate chip cookie with “The Essential Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies” from King Arthur Flour. Prior to that I had tried three others: the original, Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies; the Neiman Marcus cookie; and the Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie from Cook’s Illustrated. As my search begins to wind down, this next cookie is a serious contender for becoming my new go-to recipe.
J. Kenji López-Alt is one of my favorite contributors to Serious Eats. The blog describes its series, “The Food Lab“, as”Unraveling the mysteries of home cooking through science.” The approach is similar to that of Cooks Illustrated or Alton Brown in that they iterate recipes and techniques until they land at the best combination. In a post titled “The Science of the Best Chocolate Chip Cookies“, Kenji took it upon himself to experiment until he found the ultimate chocolate chip cookie. It got to the point where his wife even asked him to stop making cookies. (My hubby hasn’t asked that of me…yet.)
This recipe intrigued me because of the exhaustive testing that went into it. It uses browned butter, one of the elements I felt made the Cook’s Illustrated version pretty close to perfect. It also calls for a rest time for the dough. I hadn’t tried this myself, but it was something that intrigued me, particularly after having read a post on King Arthur Flour’s blog, Flourish, about the virtues of chilling cookie dough.
These cookies were worth the wait, as hard as that was. They had tender centers with crisp edges. Overall you got a great balance of the butterscotch flavors from the browned butter and the chocolate from the chips. (As a note, though the original recipe called for chopped chocolate, I decided to use Nestle chocolate chips for all of the recipes in this series to keep that element consistent.) One of the things that set this recipe apart was the sprinkling of sea salt on top of the just-baked cookies. I made a few without the salt and, as good as they were, we vastly preferred the sweet-salty combo of the ones with the salty tops. This recipe is going to make it even more challenging to find a winner!
- 2 sticks of unsalted butter
- 1 standard ice cube (roughly 2 tablespoons of frozen water)
- 10 ounces all-purpose flour (approximately 2 cups)
- ¾ teaspoon baking soda
- 2 teaspoons coarse kosher salt or 1 teaspoon table salt
- 5 ounces granulated sugar (approximately ¾ cup)
- 2 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 5 ounces dark brown sugar (approximately ½ tightly packed cup plus 2 tablespoons)
- 8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips
- Flaked fleur de sel for garnish
- Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat.
- Brown butter by gently swirling pan constantly over medium-high heat, until particles begin to turn golden brown and the butter smells nutty, about 5 minutes.
- Remove butter from heat and continue swirling the pan until the butter is a rich brown, about 15 seconds longer.
- Transfer to a medium bowl and whisk in ice cube until it melts completely.
- Transfer butter to refrigerator, and allow to cool completely, about 20 minutes, whisking occasionally.
- Whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt in a large bowl.
- Add granulated sugar, eggs, and vanilla extract in the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the whisk attachment, beat on medium high speed until mixture is pale brownish-yellow and falls off the whisk in thick ribbons when lifted. This should take about 5 minutes.
- Switch to use the paddle attachment on the mixer. Add brown sugar and cooled brown butter (mixture will have started to firm up at edges and turn opaque) to egg mixture in stand mixer. Mix on medium speed to combine, about 15 seconds.
- Add flour mixture and mix on low speed until just barely combined but some dry flour still remains, about 15 seconds.
- Add chocolate and mix on low until dough comes together, about 15 seconds longer.
- Transfer dough to an airtight container and refrigerate at least overnight and up to three days.
- When ready to bake the cookies, adjust oven racks to upper and lower middle positions and preheat oven to 325°F.
- Using a 1-ounce ice cream scoop or a spoon, place scoops of cookie dough onto a non-stick baking mat or parchment-lined baking sheet. Each ball should measure approximately 3 tablespoons in volume. This recipe yields approximately 28 cookies. and you should be able to fit 6 to 8 balls on each sheet.
- Transfer to oven in batches of 6 to 8 per sheet. Rotate pans back to front and top and bottom halfway through baking.
- Bake until golden brown around edges but still soft, 13 to 16 minutes,
- Remove baking sheets from oven. While cookies are still hot, sprinkle very lightly with salt, pressing gently into tops.
- Let cool for 2 minutes, then transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.