Wednesday, March 03, 2010

March's Cookie of the Month: Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies

As my great cookie adventure started with the New York Times Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe, it seems only fair to test drive The Ultimate Chocolate Cookie Book's recipe for Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies.
According to the previously lauded handy little icon in the top corner of the recipe, the Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies are intended to be crunchy, which is in keeping with the authors' professed bias towards crunchy cookies. This differs from the intent of the NYTCCC recipe, which aims for three distinct textures.

“First there’s the crunchy outside inch or so,” [City Bakery's Maury Rubin] said. A nibble revealed a crackle to the bite and a distinct flavor of butter and caramel. “Then there’s the center, which is soft.” A bull’s-eye the size of a half-dollar yielded easily.

“But the real magic,” he added, “is the one-and-a-half-inch ring between them where the two textures and all the flavors mix.”
Now whether it was by design or by user error, the Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies I produced had a slightly crunchy perimeter, but the rest of the cookie was distinctly chewy. Mind you, I modified the recipe's simple instruction, "Drop by rounded tablespoons . . . ." Instead, like I make my NYTCCCs, I rolled the dough into balls. For the first batch I made golf ball sized balls, like I do for NYTCCCs, but these spread so much I got a solid sheet of (super yummy) cookie instead of individual cookies. So for the rest I stuck to a true tablespoon and rolled them into balls. They ended up perfectly round and didn't ooze into one another.

One of the tricks of the NYTCCCs is to let the dough rest for 24 hours or more in the fridge. The Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies do not have such complex requirements. The authors do offer a variation (which is another neat thing about The Ultimate Chocolate Cookie Book, which I'll talk about more later) for cakier cookies which suggests refrigerating the dough for 2 hours and rolling tablespoonfuls into balls. Out of necessity (which is the mother of invention, because sometimes mothers get interrupted) after baking my first batch, I refrigerated the rest of the dough and baked it the next day. In the pictures the cookie on the right was from that first batch and the cookie on the left was from the later batches. The later batches were thicker and browner, but tasted just as awesome.

Not pictured is an alternative cookie I made with the same dough but substituting 1 1/3 cup Heath Bits O' Brickle Toffee bits and 2/3 cup chopped walnuts for the chocolate chips. I did this because when I measured my Ghiradelli 60% cacao chips I discovered that one bag was less than 3 cups. The authors provide a "Customize It!" section at the end of almost every recipe. As mentioned above, sometimes it's just a preparation suggestion, like letting the dough rest 2 hours in the fridge for cakier cookies. Sometimes, it's a more significant suggestion, like after the recipe for Chocolate Cream Cheese Refrigerator Cookies the authors suggest using them as the cookie part of Chocolate Cream Sandwich Cookies, which might be a good way to go if you have trouble with the cookie part of the Chocolate Cream Sandwich Cookies shattering. But most often it's a substitution suggestion. At the end of the Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies the "Customize It!" section provides a long list of substitutions including Heath bar bits and chopped walnuts. This turned out to be an awesome option when I ran short of chocolate chips, because the toffee bits and walnuts go SO well with this buttery caramelly dough.

So the real question is did I prefer the Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies to the NYTCCCs. I've got to say, I feel like I've staked some sort of reputation on my NYTCCCs, and they do result in a tripartite consistency that is truly awesome. In terms of flavor, I think the Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies are as good as NYTCCCs. Perhaps more importantly, the Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies are simpler. No need to keep cake flour, bread flour, and sea salt on hand. No need to commit to at least a 24 hour waiting period (I found 48 hours was even better, with the NYTCCCs). With the Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies you get the same buttery caramelly flavor without the wait and the slightly exotic pantry items. I am a big fan of the NYTCCCs tripartite consistency, so I think I'll still save that recipe for special occasions. But for every day chocolate chip cookies, the Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies have won me over.

Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies adapted from The Ultimate Chocolate Cookie Book: From Chocolate Melties to Whoopie Pies, Chocolate Biscotti to Black and Whites, with Dozens of Chocolate Chip Cookies and Hundreds More by Bruce Weinstein and Mark Scarbrough


  • 2 1/4 C all-purpose flour
  • 1 t baking soda
  • 1 t salt
  • 1/2 lb. (2 sticks) cool, unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 1/3 C packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 C granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 1/2 t vanilla extract
  • 3 C semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips (I used my Ghiradelli 60% cacao chips that I discovered in the process of perfecting the NYTCCC)


1. Position the racks in the top and bottom thirds of the oven; preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Whisk (I sifted) the flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl until uniform; set aside.

2. Soften the butter in a large bowl, using an electric mixer at medium speed, about 1 minute. Add both sugars and continue beating until light and airy, if still a bit grainy, a little more than 1 minute. Beat in the eggs one at a time, thoroughly beating in the first before adding the second. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, then beat in the vanilla.

3. Mix in the prepared flour mixture just until moistened. The batter should be firm but not sticky. Mix in the chocolate chips just until evenly distributed. Roll tablespoons of dough into balls and place them onto two ungreased baking sheets, preferably nonstick, spacing the balls about 1 1/2 inches apart.

4. Bake for 6 minutes, then switch the sheets top to bottom and back to front. Continue baking for about 6 minutes more, or until the cookies are lightly browned at the edges, set yet soft when touched. Cool on the baking sheets for 5 minutes, then transfer the cookies to wire racks to cool completely. Cool the baking sheets for 5 minutes before baking additional batches.

Previous Cookies of the Month:
January's Cookie of the Month: Soft Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies
February's Cookie of the Month: Chocolate Cream Sandwich Cookies

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Mark Scarbrough said...

Wow. How kind of you to compare our chocolate chip cookies to those from the NYTimes! I think ours are indeed "homier," more (shall we say?) "rustic." They're not as obsessive as the others--and so I think you're dead on: those are definitely for special occasions, ridiculously good.

Thanks for making the cookies from the book and blogging it. It's so cool to see!