Anyone who knows me, knows that I make a mean chocolate chip cookie. Growing up, my mom, sister and I spent nearly every Saturday morning baking something or other together. More times that not, we were pulling out a trust bag of Toll House chocolate chips and making cookies. I soon learned this recipe by heart and no longer needed to rely on the back of the package. By the time I was in high school, I started to make slight adjustments to the recipe: a little extra vanilla, using butter flavored Crisco as opposed to real butter, and baking the cookies at a lower temperature. All of these tweaks allowed me to create, what I thought was, the best chocolate chip cookie.
A month or so ago, I decided to make some chocolate chip cookies to bring into work. I had been seeing some different recipes on various blogs so I decided to mix things up and go with a new recipe. There weren’t any different ingredients in the recipe I used and my adapted toll house recipe, but there were slight variations in the amount of each ingredient. I mixed, scooped and baked, thinking no one would probably notice the different the next day. Well, I was wrong.
Immediately people started asking me what I had done differently. At first I thought that the cookies weren’t up to my usual standard, but I quickly realized that people thought these were better! Immediately my whole world came crashing down. For 29 years I’ve been relying on the Toll House recipe and now, the first time I try something different, it is immediately better? How could that be?
And so began my quest to find “The World’s Best Chocolate Chip Cookie.”
I researched a lot of different recipes. I decided to stick with recipes that called for butter – immediately tossing aside my go-to butter flavored Crisco. I found a few recipes that had already received accolades from others in search of the best cookie, a few came from my favorite online recipe sources and two were from blogs I follow on a regular basis. Of the 6 different recipes – none seemed too unusual.
I made 3 doughs on Tuesday that needed to be refrigerated overnight and then 3 more doughs on Wednesday that could go right into the oven. I then proceeded to bake 6 different types of dough, more than 10 dozen cookies. By the end of the night on Wednesday, I was exhausted and our apartment had the distinct aroma of sugar and butter (much of which is still lingering around).
I then brought in all of the cookies to work for a formal “taste test.” Here at Robin Hood, we focus on results and outcomes with our grants. I figured, what better place to conduct a random control trial that among people who hold data and research with the up most regard. Plus, we work at a non-profit and free food is always a good thing!
Well, 12 sticks of butter, 15 cups of flour and 6 pounds of chocolate chips later, we have some results.
The two cookies receiving the most votes were number 5 and number 6. Not surprising as these were the two recipes that had previously won contests, held by the Huffington Post and NY Times respectively.
Coming in 3rd was cookie 3, which was the old “crispy” cookie in the bunch. And the folks who voted for this one described themselves as crispy fans. (Similar to the folks who like chunky spaghetti sauce from yesterday’s post).
Coming in 4th was cookie 2, which had the most unusual ingredient, “vanilla pudding mix”. And cookies 1 received the fewest votes. Both of these cookies were very cake-like which didn’t sit well with people here. I think this had a lot to do with the fact that these doughs were not refrigerated over-night, which lends to a more chewy/caramelized cookie.
I made the mistake of not including my go-to recipe in the bunch (stupid, I know). But even after all of that, I still think that the Toll House recipe (especially with a few tweaks) makes the best cookie. A lot of work for a non-conclusive result, huh…
I am excited to continue my research though – next time I am going to include some recipes that present a slight twist to the traditional one (e.g. Ganache-Stuffed Chocolate Chip Cookie). If you have a favorite recipe, let me know. I’d love to include it in my next batch.
The First Quest to Find the Best Chocolate Chip Cookie
Recipe 1: Savory Sweet Life
Recipe 3: Cook’s Illustrated
Recipe 4: NY Time’s Best Chocolate Chip Cookie – Adapted from Jacques Torres
Recipe 6: David Lebovitz’s Chocolate Chip Cookie