Quest for the Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie
When my son said he needed to come up with an experiment for the science fair, I said why don’t we test chocolate chip cookie dough and see if we can come up with the perfect chocolate chip cookie? (Part of my thinking was that we’d have a lot of cookies – a good problem to have. And not have a mess to clean up like say with a baking soda volcano.)
What we did:
We made up three batches of cookie dough:
- We separated each dough into fourths, wrapped each, and chilled them in the refrigerator.
- We decided on a baking schedule of different lengths of chill times and temperature. (24 hours, 48 hours, 72 hours, and 96 hours at 325 degrees, 350 degrees, and 375 degrees.)
- Each night after dinner, we pulled out one portion of each of the three doughs. Then we split them into three equal portions for a total of nine (three Tollhouse, three NY Times, three Jacques Torres).
- We placed slightly flattened portions of dough on a parchment-covered cookie sheet. (Flatten each dough ball to ½ inch in height.)
- We then baked one of each kind at 325 degrees, 350 degrees, and 375 degrees. For twelve minutes. (Rotating the cookie sheets halfway through.)
I won’t bore you with all of the details, but here’s what we found out.
- A longer chilling time really does make a difference. While the difference between 24 and 48 hours was negligible, the Tollhouse browned considerably faster (to the point of being overbaked) at 350 degrees at 48 hours. The other two doughs didn’t seem to change much. My guess would be the higher fat ratio in Tollhouse, but I wouldn’t swear to it.
- The flavor improved markedly at 48 hours, but seemed to peak at 72 hours. We didn’t taste a big enough difference at 96 hours to make the extra chill time worth it.
- The longer the chill time, the better the cookies seemed to do at the lower temperatures. All three baked well at 325 degrees for 12 minutes at the 72 hour mark.
Conclusion: A longer chill time is totally worth it. Just make sure to wrap your dough well and store it in a Ziploc bag away from smelly ingredients (onions, garlic, etc.) The best cookie is largely a matter of taste at the 72 hour mark. Both my son and I liked the New York Times cookie best because of its rich flavor and soft, chewy texture. The Jacques Torres cookie was a close second and would be first if one wanted a lighter, crunchier texture. The Tollhouse wasn’t very good when compared to the other two. It tasted greasy and heavy. Not two desirable traits in a chocolate chip cookie.
The Jacques Torres Chocolate Chip Cookie. This recipe can be found at the New York Times Cooking website.
The Jacques Torres Chocolate Chip Cookie
2 cups minus 2 tablespoons (8 1/2 ounces) cake flour
1 ⅔ cups (8 1/2 ounces) bread flour
1 ¼ teaspoons baking soda
1 ½ teaspoons baking powder
1 ½ teaspoons coarse salt
2 ½ sticks (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter
1 ¼ cups (10 ounces) light brown sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (8 ounces) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract
1 ¼ pounds bittersweet chocolate disksor fèves, at least 60 percent cacao content. (I just used Tollhouse Semi-sweet morsels to keep everything consistent, but I prefer Callebaut.)
Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Set aside.
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.
Bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Set aside.
Scoop 6 3 1/2-ounce mounds of dough (the size of generous golf balls) 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. Eat warm, with a big napkin.
The Quintessential Chocolate Chip Cookie
The Quintessential Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe can be found The New York Times Cooking.
1 ½ cups all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 stick unsalted butter
½ cup granulated sugar
½ cup light brown sugar
¼ teaspoon salt (1/4 teaspoon)
1 teaspoon vanilla
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate chips.
Sift together flour and baking soda and set aside. In the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter until lemony yellow,
about 2 minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl and paddle. Add sugar, brown sugar and salt. Continue creaming mixture on medium speed until it is smooth and
lump free, about 1 minute. Stop mixer and scrape down sides of bowl and paddle.
Add egg and vanilla and beat on low speed for 15 seconds, or until they are fully incorporated. Do not over-beat. Scrape down sides of bowl and paddle.
Add sifted flour mixture. Beat slowly until all of the flour is incorporated. Scrape down sides of bowl. Add chocolate chunks and mix in.
Heat oven to 350 degrees with the rack positioned in the lower third of the oven. Line 2 baking sheets with parchment. Spoon heaping teaspoons of dough
2 inches apart onto baking sheets. If not baking right away, remove small handfuls or spoonfuls of dough from mixer and plop them down on the middle of a
sheet of parchment or wax paper, creating a log about 1 1/2 inches wide and 12 inches long. Fold parchment over, creating a sausage. Chill for at least 1 hour,
preferably overnight. Using a serrated knife, slice chilled dough into 1/3-inch-thick rounds and place them 2 inches apart, in staggered rows, on
parchment-lined sheets and proceed. (Dough will keep nicely, tightly wrapped, in the refrigerator for 1 week, or in the freezer for up to 1 month.
Thaw frozen dough at room temperature for 30 minutes before slicing.)
Bake one sheet at a time for 12 to 15 minutes, until lightly browned, rotating the baking sheet front to back halfway through.
Remove from heat and slide parchment off baking sheet and onto a work surface. Allow cookies to cool for at least 5 minutes before serving, or for at least
20 minutes before storing in an airtight container. They will keep for up to 3 days at room temperature.
For even more chocolaty cookies, add another 1 to 2 ounces (30 to 60 grams) of chocolate. If you want flat, crispy cookies, when you go to turn the baking sheets
halfway through the baking, tap them down on the back of the oven door before sliding them back in. This will cause the rising cookies to fall.