Okay, so I know I'm not the first person to toss that proclamation out to the wind, but, really, it's the truth. I've come up with the best CCC recipe and I'll tell you what, how and why.
To begin, since I was a wee thing, I've been a fan of Chocolate Chip Cookies. I mean, what kid doesn't like a warm, gooey cookie, oozing melted chocolate, right from the oven?
(LALALALALALALA I CAN'T HEAR THE NAYSAYERS WITH BIZARRE CHITLENS WHO DON'T LIKE CCCs!)
I finally, finally decided to embark on that lauded and most humble quest: Determine which of the bazillion CCC recipes out there is THE BEST.
So I baked. And I ate.
And I made others eat.
And I didn't find THE ONE.
I found . . . two. But I'm getting ahead of myself. Let me just say, that after dozens of dozens, I narrowed the list down to four recipes. And these are fairly standard recipes. No vegan, no toasted barley flour, none of that gluten-free or low-fat nonsense (I mean, not for me. I know some folks need gluten-free). I even restrained from adding things like nuts (I am known to add chopped, toasted pecans to my CCCs) or, heaven forbid, raisins (gross. also, shame on you!).
So, four recipes, each with something really wonderful going for them. Here they are, side-by-side. The first (l-r) is the Mrs. Field's recipe, passed along to me by my grandma. The link below goes to a recipe that looks pretty much the same. This is one of those that uses ground oats as part of the dry ingredients. Second is the Cook's Illustrated CCC recipe, using browned butter and no mixer. Third is the NYT/Jacques Torres recipe, with two types of flour (cake and bread) and a sprinkling of sea salt on top. Also, instead of traditional chips, this recipe calls for chocolate disks. More on how I dealt with that later. Finally, we have the Neiman Marcus recipe. Yeah, that one. The one that probably was responsible for launching Snopes.com.
I baked and I smelled the GAH OH SO YUM MOUTH-WATERING smells wafting through the air. Then I gathered some opinionated folks and we dug in. THIS WAS NOT AS EASY AS IT LOOKS! But it was delicious. Each cookie was fabulous, bringing something unique to the table. Here are some of my thoughts for each:
1. Mrs. Fields: I really liked the nutty flavor and rougher texture the oatmeal provided. The recipe I'd received calls for grating a bittersweet bar of chocolate into the dough (not Hershey's. Ew), which, while I didn't do this time, I have done before and think it does add some deeper flavor to the cookie.
2. Cook's Illustrated: I wasn't sure about melted butter in a cookie. I've done that before and ended up with flat, thin cookies that spread all over the baking sheet. But these surprised me. No, these KNOCKED MY SOCKS OFF! I really loved the flavor of the browned butter, the caramel/toffee notes lingering long after I took a bite. And they didn't spread more than they should have, as you can see.
3: NYT/Jacques Torres: Seeeeeeaaaaa Saaaaaaalllt. OMG, yes. I don't know what, exactly, the mixture of flours does to the texture, but I'm assuming that's responsible for the wonderful, crackly top. And I was skeptical about how much superior the use of chunks, or disks, would be compared to chips. I'm a skeptic no longer. Large, thin pieces of chocolate are THE WAY TO GO.
4: Neiman Marcus: Notable because it uses a much higher proportion of brown sugar to white, and because this was the fattest and chewiest of the lot. I loved the texture, even though the flavors were rather standard. Note I didn't use the espresso powder called for in the recipe. I just don't have that in my pantry. Maybe that would have made a huge difference, maybe not.
In the end, the NYT/Jacques Torres recipe was my all-around favorite. The problem, though, was that I really, really loved the flavors the browned butter adds to the Cook's Illustrated cookie. So I combined the ingredients of the former with the technique of the latter, hoping, hoping, hoping it would turn out all right.
YES! Marvelous cookies! The BEST EVER!!!!
Really. It's true.
Here's the recipe, just for you.
THE BEST Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe Ever (note: you can bake these right after mixing, but they really are better after 12+ hours chilling time in the fridge. Just FYI)
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 salt
2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) brown sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (8 ounces) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract
1 1/4 pounds thin chocolate chunks/pieces. See below.
Coarse sea salt
Whisk flours, baking soda and baking powder together in medium bowl; set aside.
Heat 2 sticks (1 cup/16 tablespoons) butter in 10-inch stainless steel or other non-dark skillet over medium-high heat until melted, about 2 minutes. Continue cooking, swirling pan constantly until butter is dark golden brown and has nutty aroma, 1-3 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and transfer browned butter to large heatproof bowl. Stir remaining 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter into hot butter until completely melted.
Add granulated and brown sugars, 1 1/2 tsp salt and vanilla to the bowl with butter and whisk until fully incorporated and uniform in color. Add the eggs, one at a time, whisking after each addition. Whisk until mixture is smooth with no sugar lumps remaining, about 30 seconds. Let mixture stand for 3 minutes, then whisk for 30 seconds. Repeat process of resting and whisking 2 more times until mixture is thick, smooth and shiny. Using rubber spatula or wooden spoon, stir in flour mixture until just combined, about 1 minute. Stir in chocolate chunks.
Refrigerate dough at least 3 hours, or up to 36 hours.
When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees and line cookie sheet(s) with silpat or parchment paper. Use a medium, 2-inch cookie scoop or tablespoon to scoop dough into balls in the cookie sheet, leaving two inches around all side of the dough balls. Turn any chunks poking up horizontal (and tuck in any that are poking out). Sprinkle each ball with sea salt, pressing the salt in with your fingers so it adheres.
Bake until golden brown and crackled, 18-20 minutes. Let sit on cookie sheet for five minutes, then transfer to wire rack to cool.
* Be sure to use the "spoon and level" method of measuring flour or your dough will be too dry. Spoon your flour into your measuring cup until it overflows (NO PACKING DOWN), then use a flat edge (back of a butterknife, for me) to level the flour, returning the excess to the the canister.
About the chunks:
I suppose I probably could have made a quick run to Trader Joe's for these. Or special ordered them. But part of the charm of chocolate chip cookies is that you usually have the ingredients on hand. So this is how I made my own "disks." The first time I made them, I used only semi-sweet chips, but the second time I swirled bittersweet, semi-sweet and white chocolate together.
Thin Chocolate Chunks
1 1/2 pounds good quality chocolate chips, such as Guittard or Ghiradelli (or better, if you've got 'em)
Heat oven to 300 degrees.
Line a baking sheet with silpat or parchment paper, though I prefer the silpat for this application. Pour the chips on to the lined sheet and arrange in a single layer. Pop the sheet into the oven. Begin checking on the chips after five minutes. When they look very glossy, pull the sheet out and, with a flat-bottom pastry spreader, smooth the chocolate into one thin layer.
Immediately put in the fridge (or freezer, if you have room/are short on time) and chill until hardened. Remove and peel the chocolate from the silpat/peel the paper off the back of the chocolate. Working quickly, break the chocolate into 1-inch-sized chunks. Use as indicated in recipe.
(sorry for the crappy picture. We . . . kind of . . . ate almost all of them before I thought to grab my camera. Plus, it was late. And dark. So, light issues. Ya know.)
DO TRY THEM! And let me know if they are the BEST CCC you have ever had!