Recently, I was invited to a fancy potluck party on the Upper East Side, well-attended by professional chefs and a handful of culinary school graduates. I’ve never been to culinary school. So of course I foolishly asked what I could bring to a party filled with masters of cuisine. The host asked me to bring my “best baked good!”
In a fit of terror, I scoured recipe after recipe of the “best” for the best – pies, tarts, cakes, sweet breads – anything within my power and skills to make to impress these decorated guests. Fingers flying across my keyboard, I discovered a food lab tested, best chocolate chip cookie recipe ever. What makes the “best” chocolate chip cookie? Is it the chips, the flour, the butter, the process? Serious Eats tackled the task of making “the best chocolate chip cookie.” Every part of the cookie process was dissected and tested – and what it boiled down to for me was THE BUTTER.
It’s all about the butter.
For starters, God help you if you use margarine instead of the real thing. You will never achieve the cookie of your dreams that way. Real butter gives cookies that delicious, tender mouthfeel we all seek. More butter = wider spread and tender cookies. It gives cookies so much flavor, superior to other fats like shortening, lard or margarine. How you use the butter in your cookies is super important. If you like cakier cookies, cream your butter. If you like denser, chewier cookies, melt the butter. Brown the butter to give cookies nutty, caramelized flavor.
Yolks are a must. Don’t skip your yolks and use just whites. If your trying to eat a low-fat cookie, you should really be eating a piece of celery instead. Extra egg yolks make fudgier cookies ( oh god, oh yum). And don’t sub white sugar for brown just because you don’t feel like running to the store to get it – brown sugar yields moister cookies.
But if you like dry, crumbly, tall cookies well….don’t do any of the above. Not sure why you would. It’s not like your eating a cracker. Recipe + what I’m reading this week ——->