It’s Scientific: The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies in the World

Good? Definitely. The best? I'm not so sure...
Good? Definitely. The best? I’m not so sure…

A week or so ago I read an article in the NY Times about a scientifically proven method for making the most delicious chocolate chip cookie.

I was intrigued.

The article actually links to another article by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt on Serious Eats about how he sought to make the best possible cookie using every combination of method and ingredients. If you love cookies and cooking, you’ll love that article.

In the end, the article boils down to this recipe. I tried it out on Saturday to see if they were indeed the best chocolate chip cookies.

Short answer: They’re not, but that’s my fault, not the recipes. Also, my impression of chocolate chip cookies has been spoiled by my sister, who is an excellent backer.

Long answer: Making the cookies took about two hours, as it’s a pretty meticulous process that involves a few things out of the ordinary:

  1. Brown butter. The recipe calls for something called “browning the butter,” which is not the same as adding brown sugar to butter. It just means that you stir butter on the stove until it develops a brown color and a nutty smell, then you cool it for a while before adding it to the batter. I’m not really sure what it adds, but it must be good? Maybe?
  2. Chocolate chunks. When I make cookies from scratch (which is rare–I usually use the premade mix), I use semi-sweet chocolate chips. However, the recipe called for two large semi-sweet chocolate bars to be broken up and mixed into the batter. This, I think, was the greatest revelation to me, as these big, uneven chunks of chocolate elevated the cookies to a whole new level.
  3. Mix of white and dark brown sugar. Because apparently not all sugars are the same.
  4. Cook at 325 degrees. This seemed odd to me, as cookies are normally baked at 350 or 375.

There were a few things I didn’t do. One, I didn’t have the patience to fully brown the butter–it was brownish. Two, I mixed the cookies by hand, not with a mixer. I don’t bake often enough to justify a KitchenAid mixer. Three, I didn’t refrigerate the dough overnight…who has that kind of patience?!

My final conclusion is that I’m glad I made these cookies so I could understand where cookies come from, but from now on I’ll just buy the premade mix. 2 hours of my time versus 12 minutes and a mouthful of raw cookie dough, with a marginal difference between the two? Yeah, I’ll go with the latter.

What’s the secret to your best chocolate chip cookie?

15 thoughts on “It’s Scientific: The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies in the World”

  1. People seem to love my cookies, and always ask how I make them so good, but I just use the standard Toll House recipe. I very slightly melt the butter and mix by hand. I take them out of the oven at 8 minutes, when they’re just beginning to brown around the edges.
    I think a lot depends on how you learned to make them, because other people’s cookies (from the same recipe) are consistently different from mine, but mine taste like my mom’s.
    I don’t do it, but letting the dough sit in the fridge does help (I’ve tested). But who wants to wait for cookies?

  2. Katy once made the browned butter sea salt chocolate chip cookies. I’m pretty sure she also put crack in them. They were hands down the best chocolate chip cookies I’ve ever had. I’m pretty sure you could get diabetes from looking at them too long.

    • Joe: Katy is going to make cookies using this recipe (which involves sea salt) with her nice mixer to see if it makes a big difference. I bet it will!

      • Update: I made the cookie dough for this recipe prepared in the stand mixer this morning, and it is currently chilling in my refrigerator so I can bake them after work tonight.

        I think the key to a great chocolate chip cookie is melting the butter instead of simply mixing it in at room temperature. The recipe I normally use (passed down to me from my older sister) calls for melted butter and they are some of the best cookies I’ve ever eaten. Also, using a good quality chocolate is an important element to a higher quality cookie.

  3. Browned butter really is amazing and totally worth the effort! The interesting thing about browned butter is that it is also partially clarified. Butter is composed of butterfat, milk solids, and water. When you brown it, the water has completely evaporated and the milk solids have cooked. This now gives the butter a higher fat percentage and raises the smoke point of it. I haven’t researched it (yet) but I would think that in melting the butter has some people have mentioned doing, it would also have some water evaporation and then you would be baking with a fuller fat. Hmmmm, this might necessitate some tests this weekend…

    • Allyson: Thanks for sharing some of the science behind browned butter! That’s really interesting, and I hope the testing involves some cookies for you. 🙂


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