My family has some friends who live a short distance away from my college. Though I have seldom taken advantage of this, when I found myself without a place to stay the night before my flight home and with two extra boxes that had nowhere to live for the summer, I gave them a call. Knowing that their son (who is precisely a week younger than my brother) has long idolized me and, more importantly, my cookies. I had made them a batch of simple chocolate-chip cookies a few years back that evidently were heavenly (either that, or he just loves me. Both are perfectly plausible options). So when I came around asking them for favors, I figured the least I could do was bake them some cookies.
Trouble was, I couldn’t remember exactly which recipe it was that I’d made. It may have been the Tollhouse recipe; it may have been a test recipe for a vegan cookie book I used to be involved with. It may have been something else entirely. I scoured their recipe-filled kitchen and came up with a few gems, but by this point I’d decided upon one particular mission for my summer of baking: discover the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe.
Yes, it’s trite. Yes, it’s overused. Yes, it’s a poorly-disguised excuse for baking copious amounts of chocolate-chip-filled-goodness (and likely gaining a good twenty pounds from it, but we’ll ignore that part). Yes, I want to do it anyways.
My search officially began with the America’s Test Kitchen recipe, and while I could theoretically take their well-tested word on its status as the superior recipe, my ever-questioning self decided to test it out anyways.
Though I halved the recipe (which was easier said than done, since it calls for one egg and one egg-yolk), they still came out beautifully. I admittedly overbaked them just a touch; the book itself has a pretty explicit discussion about how they should be underbaked in order to maintain their chewiness, and mine were probably just a touch harder than necessary. It also probably didn’t help that I made them significantly smaller than the recipe stated to, as I always do. Regardless, they were a solid chocolate chip cookie with just the right crunch and chew, and they looked fairly professional.
However, this was not enough for me; having told my friends about my plans, they accepted their charge as guinea-pigs and we returned to the kitchen to make the Ghirardelli recipe.
These were also delicious. I thought this dough was significantly yummier, albeit also significantly stickier (whether that was a flour-measurement issue has yet to be determined). I was also surprised that 3 out of 4 of my taste-testers actually preferred the texture of these. They were definitely not as pretty or professional-looking, but they had a certain crisp to the edges. The middles were less dense, a bit airier. Not quite perfect, in my humble opinion.
The winner of this round? By popular demand, the Ghirardelli recipe. By my own standards, I think if I had baked the Cook’s Illustrated one just perfectly I would have preferred those. Maybe that means I’ll have to make them again… ;)
And now, after all that babbling, some recipe links (ordinarily I’d type them out for you, complete with nutritional information, but I’m tired, it’s late, and I’m a lazy college student. Poor excuse? Probably).
America’s Test Kitchen