General Question

gailcalled's avatar

What IS the perfect chocolate chip cookie?

Asked by gailcalled (52959 points ) July 9th, 2008

Now the cookie experts have met and found it. See below. (I am not related to any of them.)

Observing members: 0 Composing members: 0

46 Answers

gailcalled's avatar

Here’s the article; registration is free.

Here’s the recipe

Allie's avatar

The ones that are slightly crunchy on the bottom and edges, but soft and chewy in the middle. And with melted chips of course, not solid ones.

jlm11f's avatar

Gail. You have made my day. I am definitely going to bake some cookies (using the recipe provided) this weekend. Mmmm….chocolate!

gailcalled's avatar

Allie; read the scientific research on the sites I listed. Choc. chips are definitely low-brow according to the cookie high-brows.

Harp: aren’t you our resident chocolatier? Thoughts?

robmandu's avatar

I always gravitate to the mighty choco chip.

But if you really want to get my attention, put the chips in an oatmeal cookie… or a peanut butter cookie.

sndfreQ's avatar

Good call robmandu-I too have a “soft spot” for oatmeal chocolate chip…mmm

Harp's avatar

Years ago, my assistant and I worked for months to develop the perfect c.c. cookie (I have to give her most of the credit since she got stuck doing most of the incredibly tedious and repetitive work that goes into developing a professional recipe). I’ve never tasted better than what we ended up with.

The basic proportions of c.c. cookie dough don’t change much from one recipe to the next. it’s a finely tuned balance of ingredients that doesn’t tolerate much fiddling. The differences are subtle, but crucial.I don’t agree with Torres’ choice of light brown sugar; I definitely prefer the extra molasses tang of dark. We snuck in a wee bit of malt powder, which no one else does, to my knowledge. This was a great addition, as it turned out. We also used the highest grade of Nielson-Massy vanilla; expensive, but worth it.

I’m with Allie on the best texture. The classis dough recipes tend to produce a pretty crisp cookie unless you undercook them (which underdevelops the flavor). We added a tad of invert sugar to keep the center chewy.

We loaded them up with lots of macadamias, which I think are the perfect nut for this-their texture is great and they go wonderfully with chocolate.

The chips were the key. We ended up making our own, because there just wasn’t anything decent out there. We blended Swiss and French chocolates and cut them into beefy chunks. Lots of ‘em.

I’d post the recipe, but it wouldn’t do anyone any good. The malt, the invert sugar, the vanilla and the chocolate that made them wonderful would be next to impossible for anyone not in the food biz to come by.

theinfonaut's avatar

Awe Harp, maybe some of my local fancy San Francisco shops have the goods?
Thanks for the amazing description, my mouth is watering, post the recipe pretty please!

Randy's avatar

I like mine without the chocolate chips. I just don’t care much for chocolate so it kinda ruins it for me.

Knotmyday's avatar

Why, Harp? Why did you do that? I have to have one of those cookies now.

The Humanity!!!!!

delirium's avatar

my ABSOLUTELY favorite cookies in the entire world are: http://www.kashi.com/products/tlc_cookies_oatmeal_dark_chocolate

Its delicious, but without all the guilt. (Plus, they’re super filling and so you can only eat a few of them.)

gailcalled's avatar

@Randy; you don’t care much for chocolate? Where is my fainting couch?

@Del: a cookie without guilt is like a woman without a bicycle (or whatever it was that Gloria Steinem said.)

delirium's avatar

I was going to write something cute and witty, but was too horrified by the notion of fish-cookies. Maybe milo would like them?

gailcalled's avatar

Del; thanks for the trigger. (Is there anything one cannot find on the web?)

‘A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle.’ Penned as a Woman’s Lib slogan, this was met by the male response: ‘Yes, but who needs a stationary haddock?’
[1979 N. Rees Graffiti Lives OK 80]

Knotmyday's avatar

Simply delicious. No bicycle, no man. Wasn’t that written on a bathroom wall somewhere in Berkeley?
I’m horrified that I can’t have one of Harp’s cookies.

edit: my hunger pangs wait for no man. Adieu.

gailcalled's avatar

Del: Milo doesn’t care much for chocolate either. However, I am taking him on Sat. for his monthly pedicure at the local Humane Society, Animal shelter. $10 for two paws; $20 for a dog. Any suggestions for polish color?

In spite of everyone’s wonderful suggestions, I and my experienced friends have been outwitted, outrun and outlasted by the cat with the Fu Manchu nails. (What were we talking about?)

@Harp: And what of the fèves, speaking of chocolate?

gailcalled's avatar

Knot: I repeat, is there anything that is not on the web?

delirium's avatar

Hahaha, Good thing that you, yourself, don’t have to do that. If I even considered attempting to do that to my kitties… well.. i’d be missing limbs, to say the least.
I’d suggest a nice blue. And just be careful if you’re planning to let him drive, this time.

berocky1's avatar

best is an oatmeal peanut butter chocolate chip cookies.

Harp's avatar

@gail
Yeah, the problem with using the “feves” (the disk form that some manufacturers, like Valrhona, use for their bulk chocolate) is that you really don’t want to use a couverture chocolate in a cookie. “Couvertures” are chocolates with a high cocoa butter content, which makes them very liquid when melted. That’s great if you’re molding it or dipping with it, but it becomes an issue when you’re putting it in a 350 degree oven and asking it to stay in a cookie.

Finding decent chocolates that aren’t couvertures is very difficult because almost all the best chocolates fall into this category. When manufacturers do make a “baking” chocolate, it tends to be a garbage dump for their lousy cocoas. We got what we wanted with our own blend, but frankly, if any of those chocolates we used for the blend had become unavailable, I don’t know what the hell we would have done.

janbb's avatar

This is a problem I’ve been working on for most of my life and I still don’t have the perfect cookie. I read the article in the Times too, and it was interesting, but there are different things I want in my Toll House cookies. Jacques Torres said he does use a couverture chocolate to create striations of melted chocolate, but I want my chocolate bits chunky. I use the Nestles recipe and for the brown sugar have found that a mix of dark and light gives a good taste. I like big pieces of chopped walnuts in them, but my kids and husband don’t like them with nuts, so I have to make two kinds. My brother-in-law named them “with nuts’ and “Prince cookies” – after my dog who had been neutered!

My big problem is that as I bake successive trays, the cookies get spreadier and spreadier. I have partially solved this by chilling the dough before baking and only baking one tray at a time. Tthe article suggested letting the dough chill for 36 hours which I will try next time – if I haven’t eaten it all by then. Is there anything better than raw chocolate chip cookie dough? (But I’m a purist; I don’t like it in ice cream.)

Harp's avatar

I will toss this suggestion out to those who want to “upgrade” their regular c.c. recipe-

Trader Joe’s sells a chocolate bar they call “Pound Plus”,which is a very good quality Belgian 70% cocoa chocolate that’s not too rich in cocoa butter. Chopped up into chunks, it should work quite nicely in cookies. Way better than regular chips. Good price, too.

@janbb
Re spreading, the chilling is important, and you can take it a step further by portioning out the dough balls the night before baking and keeping those in the fridge until they go int the oven.

jlm11f's avatar

thanks for the tip Harp.

janbb's avatar

@Harp – thanks for the tip. Does the tray make a difference too? I use aluminum trays and parchment paper on them.

Harp's avatar

@janbb
To control spread, you want the edge of the cookie to set before the dough in the center of the ball melts, because the set rim acts as a corral to restrain the softened dough. The aluminum sheet does a great job of transferring heat to the edges, but the parchment acts as an insulating layer and may slow down the edge set (same goes for silicone mats). You’re better off with a teflon coated aluminum sheet.

janbb's avatar

@ Harp
Thanks again. I think I lurve you!

Seesul's avatar

@Harp
Does it make any difference if you place the cookie dough balls on the sheet and then chill the whole thing? Can you just use the malted milk (Carnation stuff) to add malt flavor? I agree on your vanilla, I swear by that brand.

This is really an interesting thread, gail, I’ve done a lot of these things accidentally and people usually love my cookies and say that even when I follow the bag recipe almost to the letter, they taste better than others made by it. I do the half light and half brown sugar thing because I was taught to do that with Karo syrup for my Gramma’s pecan pie. I also make and bake later, though I’ve never timed it.

Harp's avatar

@janbb
XOXOXO

@Seesul
My hunch is that chilling the sheet might be counterproductive, since the sheet needs to get hot for the rim to set; we used to portion the balls out (tightly spaced) onto a tray covered in plastic wrap, chill them for an hour or so, them cover them with more wrap to keep them from getting a refrigerator flavor overnight. The chilled balls peel away easily from the plastic wrap.

The Carnation stuff has too much other crap in it, but I did find this malt powder at King Arthur. When I get home, I’ll look up the proportion we used, ‘cause you don’t want to put too much.

gailcalled's avatar

And is this not the perfect Fluther question? No insults, no offense, and magical secret information. Now, if Harp would only sell his cookies along with the Fluther T-shirt.

Seesul's avatar

@Harp: oh wow. My son absolutely loves malt, no telling what he’ll do when I bring that stuff in the house.

@gail
yes, purrrfect. Now if it would only cool off long enough to get the oven going again. 106 in the shade.

breedmitch's avatar

I’m with seesul on this one. My family has always followed the recipe on the Toll House package. It’s my favorite because that’s what I grew up with.

Seesul's avatar

I can’t wait to try it with the tips on here, especially the ones that Harp has provided. Like I said, I’ve done them by accident, now I’m going to make a point of it. I do cheat and double the chocolate, though.

gailcalled's avatar

@Harp ;How did you become a professional chocolatier? (And a harp maker? Any other hobbies that we should know about?)

Harp's avatar

The proportion of malt powder we used was 2 tsp/lb. of butter. That’s enough to get the malt flavor, but more than that will do funky things to the texture. Malt powder is very hygroscopic and will clump like crazy with humidity, so store it in a very tightly closed container. Whisk it into the granulated sugar of your recipe before adding the sugar to the butter.

@gail
I had worked in pastry for a few years in France and stateside when I got the itch to try chocolate work. Contrary to what you might think, not many people take to chocolate work because it’s highly technical and restrictive. Chocolate behaves in seemingly inscrutable ways unless you understand the underlying principles. And even then, there’s a limited palette of flavors that harmonize with chocolate and a limited season in which you can work with it. You have to be comfortable working within these narrow confines, and most culinarions aren’t.

Anyway, I had the good fortune of landing a job in the best chocolate shop in Paris, where I worked for several years. Chocolate came to feel like my element and I had no desire to move back into the wider pastry world.

Later, when we went back to the States for family reasons, I got lucky again and hooked up with a great restaurant that was willing to make the substantial investment to set up a chocolate kitchen and gave me the freedom to do whatever I felt like. After over a decade of that, the restaurant went the way of most restaurants, and by that time I couldn’t see much new chocolate territory to blaze and had grown tired of the foodie scene.

Since then, I’ve been teaching chocolate work at a culinary college and have my wonderful (non-food related) day job. I’ll save the harp saga for a later occasion

Knotmyday's avatar

Thank you for the term “culinarion.”

gailcalled's avatar

@harp; that was as elegant a description as I have read. I am eagerly waiting for the harp saga.. and I am so curious about your present day job that I must rudely ask, “What’s your present day job?”

Harp's avatar

I work in a university clinic that designs and fabricates highly customized equipment for people with severe disabilities. Why they were willing to hire a guy with my resume is still a mystery to me, but it has really turned out to be my dream job. I’m surrounded by amazing people.

gailcalled's avatar

And they have you. Can you design me a robot to weed? My knees are giving out.

delirium's avatar

Harp is male?! And is a master of chocolate!? Marry me!

janbb's avatar

Hey – I lurved him first!

gailcalled's avatar

No. I am at the head of the queue (I snuck in privately.)

Harp's avatar

On this week’s episode of “Big Lurve”...

janbb's avatar

This sounds like the beginnings of a great reality t.v. show:

“Who wants to Marry a Chocolatier?”

Will it be Hungry Woman #1, #2 or #3.?

@gailcalled: I think saying you got dibs because of a private message is cheating! :)

gailcalled's avatar

@janbb; chocolate bars at twenty paces; choose your second. I want the guy with the gorilla avatar.

janbb's avatar

I’ll take keybo.

Seesul's avatar

…so gail can be the goril of his dreams?
sorry, hiding now so I won’t get egged, chocolate okay, though
You didn’t create this site for a doctor only, we now know it was created to find a chocolatier!

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