I try to bake every weekend because it’s relaxing, fun, and always a little bit miraculous when the finished product comes out of the oven. I bring my baked goods to school, to work, to my boyfriend’s workplace, or to his house. That way, I can still have homemade treats without the fear of eating the whole batch myself.
I decided to make “The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies” from Serious Eats’ Food Lab, which uses scientific testing to determine the best recipe for popular foods. J. Kenji Lopez-Alt (a food legend in my world) went through 32 pounds of flour, over 100 individual tests, and 1,536 cookies before finalizing his chocolate chip cookie recipe.
My verdict: these were the best straight-up chocolate chip cookies I’ve ever made! (“Straight-up” = no common additions like nuts, oats, or peanut butter.) They remained soft and chewy for days and had a much more pronounced toffee flavour. They had so many layers of flavour – sweet, buttery, and nutty; chocolate, caramel, and vanilla. The aroma of them was simply incredible. I only have a cheap camera so my photos don’t have that professional touch, but even so, the cookies still look good! I love the craggy look of them. I wouldn’t say these are my favourite homemade cookies of all time (that title is reserved for my peanut butter chocolate chip cookies), but this is definitely my new go-to chocolate chip cookie recipe.
This was also my first time making brown butter, which I had heard is a major game-changer. The first time I tried this recipe, I burned the brown butter! Colour may be a tricky indicator when it’s in the saucepan, but you will definitely know it’s burnt by the smell. For my second attempt, I under-browned the butter just to be on the safe side. The second time I made these cookies, I nailed the brown butter! I was annoyed at first by all the websites telling me I’d know when the butter was properly browned by a change in its aroma, but it’s true. I wouldn’t necessarily say it smells like hazelnuts (which is what all the websites tell you), but the smell does change into something different from normal melted butter. Once the smell changes, your brown butter needs to be removed from the heat right away. There is a big flavour difference between using under-browned and fully browned butter – be patient but be attentive! It goes from perfectly browned to burnt in seconds.
This recipe looks more complicated than the average chocolate chip cookie recipe, but it really isn’t that much harder and the results are worth it. The recipe below includes the various changes I made to achieve baking success, but you can see the original recipe HERE. I get 36 cookies out of one batch.
The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 cup unsalted butter
2 tablespoons frozen water (ice cube)
2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon table salt
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 tightly packed cup + 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1+1/3 cups semisweet chocolate chips
Melt butter in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Whisk quickly and constantly, until particles begin to turn golden brown and butter smells nutty. Remove from heat and continue whisking until the butter is a rich brown. Transfer to a medium bowl, whisk in ice cube, transfer to refrigerator, and allow to cool completely, about 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, mix together flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. Beat the granulated sugar, eggs, and vanilla extract together in a large bowl on medium-high speed until mixture is pale brownish-yellow and falls off the beaters in thick ribbons when lifted, about 5 minutes.
When brown butter mixture has cooled (it should be opaque again and beginning to firm around the edges), add brown sugar and cooled brown butter to egg mixture. Beat on medium speed to combine. Add flour mixture and stir until just barely combined but some dry flour still remains. Add chocolate chips and stir until dough comes together (do not over-mix). Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate dough at least overnight and up to three days (I’d go for 48 hours).
When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350°F. Remove container of dough from fridge so that dough becomes soft enough to scoop. Using an ice cream scoop or a spoon, place scoops of cookie dough onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Each ball should measure approximately 3 tablespoons in volume and you should be able to fit 6 to 8 balls on each sheet. Refrigerate balls of dough on their baking sheets for about 8 minutes. Transfer to oven and bake until golden brown around edges but still soft, 15 to 16 minutes. Baking time will vary based on your oven and the size of your dough balls.
Remove baking sheets from oven. Let cool for 2 minutes, then transfer cookies to a wire rack to cool completely.
Repeat for remaining cookie dough. Allow cookies to cool completely before storing in an airtight container, plastic bag, or cookie jar at room temperature for up to 5 days.