Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies

What, you ask?  Another chocolate chip cookie recipe when there are so many seasonal pumpkin and apple recipes to be shared?  Yes, that’s true—but I needed to share this sooner rather than later.  After all, October’s not over yet; and we still have November.  Apple and pumpkin recipes just got bumped by this phenomenal chocolate chip cookie recipe which has relegated my previous favorite to 2nd place.

Do you have any idea how many chocolate chip cookies I’ve tried through the years and how many I have left to try?  Neither do I!  Like many other obsessive foodies, I set off on a chocolate chip cookie quest many years ago in search of the elusive perfect cookie.   Besides the electronic files for this popular cookie, I have a 3-ring binder of chocolate chip recipes I have collected to try as I have time.  I am a tactile person.  I like to hold the recipe(s) in my hand, turn the pages, and look at the photos.  It’s just not the same as looking at them on the computer screen.

I am a sucker for any chocolate chip cookie recipe that has the words “best, best ever, favorite, or perfect” in the title and have quite a collection of recipes touting those words.

Just a small sampling I have yet to try!

Recently, as I was browsing through my binder, I rediscovered a recipe posted by a blogger who got permission from Cook’s Illustrated to post their recipe from their May, 2009, issue.  Somehow I had missed or forgotten the CI reference because once I see that CI has made something I’m interested in it’s a done deal.  So, I put aside the recipe for pumpkin biscotti I was thinking of making, forgot about tweaking my favorite blondie recipe to turn it into pumpkin blondies, and got out my Ghirardelli chocolate chips instead.

I have seen a lot of recipes lately utilizing browned butter; and Cook’s Illustrated used this to great advantage in their recipe.  Their goal (isn’t everybody’s?) was to create a chocolate chip cookie that had a moist chewy center, with crispy-chewy edges.  Well, let me tell you, they more than succeeded.  In addition to the browned butter, they replaced the light brown sugar with dark brown which contributes to the chewy texture.  The combination of the browned butter and dark brown sugar produces a cookie with a fabulous toffee-caramel flavor—unlike any I’ve ever tasted—and I’ve had more than my share!

I made half the batch without nuts and the other half with.  As I’ve mentioned before, I enjoy chopped walnuts in my brownies and cookies and went without when my kids were little.  My husband Roger is not a fan of nuts in cookies or brownies either.  So, I’ve been outnumbered for years.  Let it be noted here that even Roger preferred these cookies with the nuts!

These cookie have it all.  They are dense, chewy, and crispy with a strong toffee-caramel flavor.  The browned butter gives the cookies a nutty undertone which, of course, is only enhanced by the nuts themselves.  Your taste buds will get a workout, but they will say an enthusiastic thank you!

Folks, I think this may be “the one.”  I won’t know for sure, though, until I try all the other recipes in my binder.  I’ll have to get back to you!

Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies

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  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose unbleached flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 14 tbl. unsalted butter (1 3/4 sticks)
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 3/4 cups packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • 1 1/4 cups semisweet chocolate chips or chunks
  • 3/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts, toasted (optional)


1.  Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees.  Line 2 large (18- by 12-inch) baking sheets with parchment paper.  Whisk flour and baking soda together in medium bowl; set aside.

2.  Heat 10 tablespoons butter in 10-inch 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 to 3 minutes.  Remove skillet from heat and, using heatproof spatula, transfer browned butter to large heatproof bowl.  Stir remaining 4 tablespoons butter into hot butter until completely melted.

3.  Add both sugars, salt, and vanilla to bowl with butter and whisk until fully incorporated.  Wait 10 minutes to allow sugar to fully dissolve.  Add egg and yolk and whisk until mixture is smooth with no sugar lumps remaining, about 30 seconds.  Let mixture stand 3 minutes; then whisk for 30 seconds. Repeat process of resting and whisking 2 more times until mixture is thick, smooth, and shiny.  (Don’t skip this process.  The whisking and waiting allows the sugar to fully dissolve in the batter which enhances the toffee flavor and crisp edges.)  Using rubber spatula or wooden spoon, stir in flour mixture until just combined, about 1 minute.  Stir in chocolate chips and nuts (if using), giving dough final stir to ensure no flour pockets remain.

4.  Divide dough into 16 portions, each about 3 tablespoons (or use #24 cookie scoop/3 tbl.). Arrange 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets, 8 dough balls per sheet. (Smaller baking sheets can be used, but will require 3 batches.)

5.  Bake cookies 1 tray at a time until cookies are golden brown and still puffy, and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft, 10 to 14 minutes.  If you rotate baking sheets halfway through baking, you will not get the same results.  Transfer baking sheet to wire rack; cool cookies completely before serving.  Makes 16 large cookies.

Fran’s Notes: 

  • Do not use a nonstick pan to brown the butter.  You will not be able to judge the color of the butter as it browns due to the darker color of the pan.
  • Be sure to use fresh, moist dark brown sugar instead of hardened brown sugar which will make the cookies dry.  You can use light brown sugar, but you will not get the depth of toffee flavor that makes these cookies so delicious.
  • Even without overbaking, these cookies will be darker than normal due to the browned butter and dark brown sugar.

Don't you want to take a bite?

Source:  Cook’s Illustrated recipe via Family, Friends and Food blog

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