The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie

There’s a shocking degree of disagreement over what makes an ideal chocolate chip cookie. Some people are confused, and believe the word “cookie” means “top of muffin” or “weird small cake” – these individuals shall wander through life in search of soft cookies. Some people are wrong and/or masochistic, and lead joyless existences filled with crispy cookies. For whatever reason, this group is unwilling to recognize that chomping down on a handful of gravel mixed with brown sugar would fulfill the same craving. And finally, some people are correct and know a chewy cookie to be not only the most satisfying of all cookie textures, but to be the best food on Earth.

It may surprise you to discover that I am of the latter population.

I spent much of my summer seeking cookie enlightenment. I was born granting chewy cookies their due respect, but I had another, far more broad quandary.

What makes the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe?

After trying over a dozen recipes, sustaining several small bruises to the hand, and somehow avoiding a salmonella diagnosis despite probably consuming a dozen raw eggs through cookie dough eating . . . I have an answer. We’ll get to the highlights in a moment.

But first, IT’S RUBRIC TIME.

CHEWINESS

(duh)

FLAVOR COMPLEXITY

(A good chocolate chip cookie does not taste like dough and chocolate chips, because boring. A quality CCC (a slang term I am attempting unsuccessfully to start) also has a caramelly/toffee-y taste from all the ingredients blending together perfectly. Insert chef kissing his fingers here.)

CHOCOLATE CHIP-TO-DOUGH RATIO

(This varies from person to person, but I happen to think that less is more when it comes to chocolate chips. Like, if I wanted a bite of pure chocolate, I would eat chocolate and stop wasting my time. I wanna taste that cookie!)

EASE OF BAKING PROCESS

(I hate effort. If the process takes like a million bowls – and I don’t mean “dry ingredients in one, others in another,” because I never do that – or ANY CHILLING OF THE DOUGH IS REQUIRED, I’m out.)

UNCOOKED DOUGH QUALITY

(Dough should be either really good – yum! – or not great – then I won’t eat it. But it should always be worse than the cookies themselves. Otherwise what is the point of baking it at all, and dough does not keep like cookies can, so I just have to sit there and eat three dozen cookies’ worth of dough??? Come on.)

 

  1. Betty Crocker’s Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chewiness: 1.5/5

Flavor complexity: 2/5

Chocolate chip-to-dough ratio: 4/5

Ease of baking process: 5/5

Uncooked dough quality: 3/5

Overall: 15.5/25

This is an eh cookie. It is extremely easy to make, but also every single bite you take of it will remind you of how easy it was. This cookie screams “I had all the ingredients already and I didn’t have to chill the dough or anything.” It is not chewy. Flavor complexity = dismal. But sometimes you are baking cookies because you need to eat 18 of them and everyone knows that when you make something yourself the calories don’t count because you created it. For that task, this cookie will do the trick.

 

  1. The New York Times’ Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chewiness: 4/5

Flavor complexity: 4.5/5

Chocolate chip-to-dough ratio: 5/5

Ease of baking process: 1/5

Uncooked dough quality: 4/5

Overall: 19.5/25

There are just . . . way too many inaccessible ingredients in this recipe. It may be that I forced myself to not love these cookies purely because I will never, in my life, have a type of flour on hand that isn’t all-purpose. This recipe calls for both cake and bread flour, and never ever ever in a million years even if hell froze over and my horoscope begged me to invest in diverse grain powders will I have either of those. Let alone both. It’s just financially irresponsible and, even worse, unnecessary. But this recipe is brought up on the Internet all the time and I want to be on trend so here we are.

  1. Sugar Spun Run’s Worst Chocolate Chip Cookies Ever

Chewiness: 5/5

Flavor complexity: 5/5

Chocolate chip-to-dough ratio: 5/5

Ease of baking process: 2/5

Uncooked dough quality: 4/5

Overall: 21/25

The thing about the quest for a perfect cookie is that it, like so much of life, is futile. There is no such thing as the perfect cookie, because this one is full-on delicious and yet is so inconvenient to make that I have time for easily one to three existential crises in the process. Do not believe the time estimate that the evil blogger behind this recipe gives, because it would be wildly inaccurate EVEN IF YOU DIDN’T HAVE TO CHILL THE DOUGH. Yes, you heard me correctly. You have to chill the dough. Nobody ever, in the history of the world, has been baking cookies and felt okay with an extra 30 minutes tacked on just for a bowl to sit in a fridge. And who knows how much of my love for these cookies comes from my susceptibility to the reverse psychology in the name? I don’t exist in a vacuum, guys. Scrolling through fifteen pages of “best chocolate chip cookies ever” recipes does something to the mind.


So there it is! The sum total of my summer cookie quest. I am sure the question is one that will never be truly answered, and I will try new recipes until the end of time, never quite satisfied, but at least for now I know that Ghirardelli semi-sweet chocolate chips are the best kind. In the meantime, send your best recipes my way; I will be in a kitchen somewhere having an existential crisis while my dough chills for 30 minutes. (THE CONCEPT OF CHILLING DOUGH IS THE DEVIL’S CURSE UPON HUMANITY.)

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