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Chocolate Chip Cookie Quest

Pielove's picture

So, I went to Costco when I was hungry and I came back with a 72-ounce bag of chocolate chips.  I suppose I should know better than to shop for food right before lunch.  Anyway, my daughter has been asking me for chocolate chip cookies.  They're tasty, and you really can't go wrong.  So, I'm looking for the chocolate chip cookie recipe that works best for me.  I've already tried Alton Brown's "The Chewy", which had good texture (I love chewy) but was a bit too greasy (1c butter to 2.25c flour).  I also liked Fine Cooking's Whole Wheat Chocolate Chunk Cookies-- those are definitely in the running.  

Here are my candidates for testing:

Fine Cooking Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies:

King Arthur Flour recipe, which incorporates some points of the New York Times recipe, without the silliness of using both cake and bread flour in one recipe (what is up with that?), but also uses some shortening (blech):

Cook's Illustrated Perfect Chocolate Chip cookies, as plagiarized here (because I don't feel like subscribing to CI's website):

My husband's grandmother's recipe, which uses oatmeal-- as soon as we can dig up the recipe.

Many recipes state that refrigerating the dough for a couple of days makes for a better cookie, so I will refrigerate each dough for 48 hours.  I'll bake some off right away, then scoop and freeze, so I can bake a bunch and test them in parallel.  I have high hopes for the FC recipe, as it has a bit more flour than Alton's recipe (1.33c butter: 3.75c flour)

Am I missing any of the major recipes?  Also, if I want to cut the greasiness of Alton's recipe, is it as simple as cutting the amount of butter?


ICDOCEAN1's picture

Chocolate Chip Cookies (post #71231, reply #1 of 15)

Such ambition!  I have 7 "Woodie" cookie jars and I hardly ever make cookies, but my little friend next door loves CC cookies so I might make him a batch next week and try the CI recipe.  Let me know which recipe is fantastic, the one with oatmeal sounds good and if you have a great peanut butter cookie recipe let me know. 

I'll need to find a couple of good cookie recipes for the grands visit this summer, one loves CC and the other is a die hard peanut butter cookie fan. 

DH used to make great cookies but honestly he used that stuff that Crisco puts out in the butter like wrapping, haven't a clue what it called.

Have fun!

kitchengoddess's picture

Peanut Butter (post #71231, reply #3 of 15)

ICD, the peanut butter cookies that I like are from FC.  But I can't say that I have tried many varieties as I have recently discovered I like them.   

ICDOCEAN1's picture

Peanut butter cookies (post #71231, reply #4 of 15)

Thanks for the link.  PB's are my favorite cookies...

kitchengoddess's picture

Choices (post #71231, reply #2 of 15)

Sounds like you have done your research.  I had the whole wheat chocolate chip recipe earmarked until DH found it and figured out it was whole I can't sneak that one past him.  But I'll still try to make them.

DH has his own made up recipe for CC cookies that he makes and loves.  They come out very thin and chewy.  I prefer a sugar cookie, short bread, etc.  So I am not the best person to ask.

Please do report back though.

kitchengoddess's picture

Review (post #71231, reply #5 of 15)

I made the whole wheat chocolate chip cookies from FC yesterday.  I have to say I quite like them.  Since it uses brown sugar the colour is much darker.  My oven is usually a bit hot so I only baked them for 16 min total and a couple of them got pretty dark around the edge.

I had read the reviews and someone had suggested adding more chocolate so I did.  I added probably an extra 1/4 cup.  I don't know that it NEEDS it, but they are yummy.  They are not as a chewy as I had expected (bonus for me), but they are crunchy at the edges and soft in the middle.  Definitely a keeper this recipe.  In the future I think I could also reduce the sugar.  I didn't want to do that for the first batch in case they tasted bland.

Let me know how yours turned out.

Pielove's picture

First Batch (post #71231, reply #6 of 15)

Hi kitchengoddess!

 I agree, the whole wheat ones are really good-- the ww flour gives a nice nutty flavor-- those are definitely in my "keep" pile.  

Today I made the FC chewy chocolate chip cookies and they are really good.  First, the recipe uses cold butter and eggs, so you don't have to do any planning ahead-- just grab your ingredients and bake.  Second, as you can see from the photo, they bake up beautifully-- not too much spread, and the perfect size.  Third, the taste and texture are great-- they are buttery without being at all greasy, with a soft chewy center and a crisp, tasty margin.  They harden a bit on storage-- I need to try the suggestion to store them with a slice of bread, if I have any left! 

These cookies were baked right after being mixed.  I have some dough in the 'fridge to see if they taste better after some ageing.  I will also scoop and freeze some dough so that I can bake and test multiple recipes in parallel.  I don't know though- -these are really good, it will be hard to top them!  But I still have 60 oz of chocolate chips left (5 batches!!) and plenty of butter!


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Pielove's picture

next test (post #71231, reply #7 of 15)

Today I baked some of the dough that had "aged" in the refrigerator for 48 hours and the cookies are even better than with "fresh".  I may have baked them slightly less too-- they are chewy in the center and a bit crisp on the edges, not at all greasy, with great buttery flavor.  I may have to call a halt to the trial and declare a winner right here-- but I suppose. as a scientist, that I should try at least one more recipe.  I froze some dough so I can use it for direct comparisons under identical conditions.

This recipe is going to be hard to top though!


kitchengoddess's picture

really? (post #71231, reply #8 of 15)

how interesting...I like the idea too because you can make the batch ahead and refrigerate.  Imagine, it would be great for a casual dinner party...have the dough all ready from a couple of days before and then just bake when you are ready, yum!

I found the idea of storing the cookies with the bread slice interesting.  I guess it is like storing a piece of bread in your brown sugar so it doesn't harden.

I did find that the whole wheat cookies were better out of the oven.  Once they harden they are still good but much better with a tall glass of cold milk to dip :)

Pielove's picture

Next recipe: Cook's Illustrated (post #71231, reply #9 of 15)

Okay, so it is cold and rainy today, plus my kid is on spring break, so it is a perfect day for making cookies.  Next I tried the Cook's Illustrated recipe, as listed in this blog:

This recipe was a bit more complicated-- browned butter, whisking followed by a rest, repeated, etc.  As someone mentioned in the comments on the blog, CI tries to make the best recipe, not the simplest.  Still, I wonder if the recipe is unduly complicated.  Directly after mixing, the cookies baked up beautifully-- puffy, and not too spread out.  Also, they do not look very greasy.  I'm excited!

After lunch...the tasting!


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Pielove's picture

...and the tasting (post #71231, reply #10 of 15)

Okay, the CI cookies were also excellent-- chewy, but not too chewy, soft and a little crispy on the edges.  Despite the very different methods (melted butter vs cold butter, etc), they are hard to distinguish from the FC recipe.  My daughter votes that the CI cookies are better.  I am going to age this dough, then freeze it away.  I think the true test will be to bake the two side-by-side, as my sense is that baking time contributes more variability than the actual recipe.

Hmm, my little science fair project!  Next, the classic Toll House recipe.  I may also try the infamous New York Times recipe-- although I need to get some cake flour.


Edited to add that the CI cookies stayed softer over time-- although they got kind of chewy.  Also, the browned butter was definitely deemed a flavor boost.

Pielove's picture

Tollhouse benchmark (post #71231, reply #11 of 15)

Yesterday for an after school treat, we whipped up the Toll House cookie recipe straight from the back of the package.  These cookies were very good-- a little more spread than the other recipes, and a bit softer, but great chocolate chip cookie taste.  One way these cookies are better than the other two recipes is that they stay softer-- today they are still soft and buttery, with a bit of chew.  The CI and FC recipes were both not as good the next day.  Chalk one up for Toll House.  Tomorrow I will try the aged dough and freeze the dough balls.  Next-- a side-by-side cookie tasting!


P.S. No photos, they look like chocolate chip cookies.

ICDOCEAN1's picture

Toll House cookies (post #71231, reply #12 of 15)

Now that recipe I can relate to as it is usually the one that I make if I even bake cookies.  About the only other cookies that I bake are peanut butter cookies and a recipe for oatmeal and Craisins I think.

Great pictures!

Dashx's picture

Have you done the (post #71231, reply #13 of 15)

Have you done the side-by-side tasting yet?  Hard work, I know. ;)

My favorite chocloate chip cookie recipe is one from Sunset Magazine that is very similar to the Tollhouse recipe.  The recipe gives you variations for flatter, crisper cookies, or thicker, softer cookies.  It also is made in a "half batch", using 6 oz of chips, etc.  It makes a big difference in how they turn out.  I've tested them many times, and when doubling the recipe they do not come out the same.  Now when I make a double batch or more, I line up all my ingredients for each batch, and as they bake I start on the next batch.  Aslo, cooking them in my toaster oven, they come out more evenly brown and not too done on the bottom.

I remember an old recipe on the Quaker Oats Carton from many years ago that was the best oatmeal chocolate chip cookie recipe.

Here is the Sunset recipe.  I can no longer find it on their site, though I did find one similar with the ingredients doubled.   I find I need to add about 1 1/2 tbsp extra flour.  Alo, I have replaced 1/2 cup flour with about 1/2 cup toasted oatmeal and it is a tasty substitution.

Thick, Soft, and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Cooking time:About 7 minutes per pan

Prep time: About 10 minutes

Makes: About 18 cookies

1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/2 cup (1/4 lb.) butter or margarine, at room temperature

3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

1 large egg

1 package (6 oz.) or 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips

1/2 cup chopped nuts (optional)

1. Mix flour, baking soda, and salt.

2. Beat butter, sugar, and vanilla with a mixer on medium speed until well blended. Beat in egg, mixing well. Add flour mixture, and beat slowly to incorporate, then beat to blend well. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts.

3. Drop batter in 2-tablespoon portions about 2 inches apart on baking sheets.

4. Bake in a 400° oven until edges of cookies are brown but an area about 1 inch wide in the center is still pale, 6 to 7 minutes. If using 2 pans in 1 oven, switch positions at half-time.

5. Let cookies cool on pan about 5 minutes, then transfer to racks with a spatula. Serve warm or cool. Store airtight up to 8 hours, or freeze for longer storage.

Per cookie: 160 cal., 46% (73 cal.) from fat; 1.7 g protein; 8.1 g fat (4.8 g sat.); 22 g carbo.; 124 mg sodium; 26 mg chol.

Pielove's picture

Cookie tasting (post #71231, reply #14 of 15)

Hi DashX!

The weather is cold and damp here, so it is a perfect day for a cookie tasting!  I baked the three different types on the same cookie sheet, coding them with colored M&M's.  Red=Cook's Illustrated; Blue=FC; Green= Toll House.  The Toll House browned around the edge quite a bit, but otherwise they were all cooked to about the same extent (convection, 350C, 11 minutes).  The hand in the photo is my daughter's-- my cookie imp.

My daughter and I tried half a cookie from each, with cold milk as a palate cleanser-- sometimes science is tough.  First, the cookies were all very similar-- not surprising with the similar ingredients.  Second, my daughter and I had very different preferences-- she really liked the CI version (red) but I thought the browned butter gave it a bit of an odd taste.  I thought the FC version had a nice, chewy texture and a real classic, clean vanilla//butter taste with a bit of carmelization.  We both put the Toll House (green) second-- so I suppose it's the compromise cookie!  We're waiting for my husband to be the tie-breaker.

Thanks for the Sunset recipe-- it looks fairly similar to the Toll House recipe.  I may have to try it-- I still have a lot of chips to go through!  

Anyone else baking cookies?


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Pielove's picture

Oatmeal chocolate chip (post #71231, reply #15 of 15)

My husband's aunt dug out the old family recipe for oatmeal chocolate chip cookies, which turns out to be off the back of the bag, of course.  I'm not sure what the vintage of this recipe is, but it is "The NEW TOLL HOUSE COOKIES made with Oatmeal".  

Thanks to the power of google, I found the exact picture that Aunt Louise gave me:

The recipe is standard, except what is up with adding 1 tsp hot water?  I saw another recipe where the soda was dissolved in the water-that made more sense.

Anyway, the cookies were a big hit with everyone-- the oatmeal was so chewy and my husband was glad to have grandma's cookies again.  Also, they caramelized nicely.  I wonder if they would be as good without the tsp of water!

Cheers, Jen

Edited to add that these cookies seem to keep really well too. I got 77 cookies out of the batch-- with 2c of oatmeal in the recipe, can I call them healthy?