Chocolate Chip Cookies and the Search for Perfection

Book Cover of William-Sonoma Cookies by Marie SimmonsA little bit of Chocolate Chip Cookie adventure happened on my Instagram feed a little while ago, when a baker I follow compared the bakers’ percentages of ingredients between the OG Toll House, Jacques Torres’ (the best*), and their own version of it. The post, from what I remember, actually had a bit more to it than just the comparisons of bakers’ percentages and included a lament following the publicization of a new “perfect” chocolate chip cookie recipe that didn’t pay homage to the history of chocolate chip cookies and those that came before this new recipe, but I’m not here today to dwell on the erasure of chefs and innovators in kitchens**. We’re here to talk about how to get to the perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie for you (or for whomever you’re throwing them to – from a distance, of course, so throw them you must – this upcoming Valentine’s Day).

As a result of the tiny bit of digging I did to write this article, it came to my notice that some of you might remember a time when chocolate chip cookies… did not exist. You might even remember when they came into existence. Isn’t that incredible?

Here’s Ruth Wakefield, the inventor (!!) of the chocolate chip cookie. Could you imagine? Being the person who invented the chocolate chip cookie. And then also somehow falling into obscurity over the years (because did you know who Wakefield was before this moment?) even though you invented the chocolate chip cookie, which, need I remind you, has not fallen into obscurity whatsoever.

*Fight me. I know the OG Toll House chocolate chip cookie is up there on the list of best chocolate chip cookies, but let’s be real: Jacques Torres’ puddles of ooey gooey chocolate, with enough salt to bring it all together, all held together by less dough than chocolate really than you’re used to seeing in a cookie? Sweet dreams are quite literally made of this. (I usually substitute in a mix of bittersweet wafers, semisweet chips, and bittersweet chips for the variety of textures between puddles and dollops. I also generally forgo the cake flour and replace it with AP flour – as one of the commenters mention, the protein content ends up around the same as with just straight up AP flour.)

**This would make a fine subject for another post. 

Book Cover of Classic Cookies with Modern Twists by Ellen JacksonThis article from Serious Eats breaks down all the ingredients present in your regular ol’ chocolate chip cookie recipe and talks about what they’re doing in the recipe, how they affect the final outcome, and how to make your own perfect chocolate chip cookie. I have to say, I respect this amount of experimentation quite a bit – I am both in awe of and also slightly disgusted by how many cookies I imagine the author must’ve made in order to publish this article. ALL IN THE NAME OF SCIENCE! (I should note: disgusted only upon thinking about having to actually ingest so many cookies. There is such a thing as too many cookies.)

Book Cover of The Perfect Cookie by America's Test KitchenWhile the Jacques Torres cookie is basically perfect for me, I do appreciate having a variety of different textures in my cookies once in a while, from chewy, almost fudgy oatmeal cookies to all different types of flavours of non-chocolate chip cookies… knowing what each of the ingredients in the recipe is doing helps you customize any recipe you approach to make it more suited to your tastes. And what better time than in lockdown to journey into batches upon batches upon batches of cookies, in the pursuit of the perfect cookie? Your roommates, friends, or family will love you for it, and you get the answer to all your cookie-shaped fantasies!

Book Cover of American Cookie by Anne ByrnThat being said, I can only imagine the possibility that chocolate chip isn’t necessarily someone’s idea of a good cookie, so I’ve listed a few different cookie recipe books for you here in this post to browse through and take inspiration from! One of my non-chocolate-chip-cookie repeat cookie recipes is this Turmeric Sugar Cookie on Food52 by Emma Laperruque. Just be sure to keep a napkin on hand to wipe the turmeric off after you eat one!

What’s your favourite cookie? Do you remember a time before the chocolate chip cookie? If you have any recipes you swear by,  do share with us below in the comments!

5 thoughts on “Chocolate Chip Cookies and the Search for Perfection

  1. Oh wow this post made me really hungry. And I just finished my bag of chocolate chip cookies yesterday!! Time to go to the store, I guess (I am often too lazy to bake them from scratch, so a nice microwaved PC Chocolate Chunk cookie usually does the trick). It just clicked with me now that Jacques Torres is one of the judges on Nailed It (the Netflix show of which I of course have seen every episode), and I can hear him saying “cookie” in his lustrous French accent. I would trust him with my life.

    When I make cookies, I tend to do a simple shortbread with Nutella, because they’re so easy to make and soooo delicious! My cousins request them for get togethers and then fight over them. But I also like a nice peanut buttery chocolate chip cookie.

    Also….can we talk about chocolate chip cookie dough. Because I could live on that alone.

    1. It’s a sign: go get your cookies! Microwaved storebought cookies can be just as good as baking your own, and a lot less work, let’s be honest. I used to go for another brand’s chewy cookies – I forget the brand itself, it’s one of the big names, a red bag? – and microwave those but recently their chewy cookies have gotten about 1/3 thinner than I remember them being and it’s kind of ridiculous: where’s the bite? The chew? The EXPERIENCE?

      LOL I have only watched snippets of Nailed It, and never heard Torres speak, but going just by his chocolate chip cookie recipe, I would also trust him with my life.

      Oooh does the Nutella get mixed in, or is it like a cookie sandwich scenario? Either way, Nutella anything is a win. But while I do enjoy peanut butter and chocolate together (as you well know), I can’t say I’ve actually ever… enjoyed a peanut butter cookie. Maybe it’s because I had a bad experience of it when I was young (we followed the recipe on the peanut butter jar) and never tried again? Do you have a recipe to recommend me if I were to gingerly dip a finger back into the peanut butter cookie game?

      I have a confession to make. The idea of eating raw cookie dough sounds gross to me and I have never done it before. I think it’s a texture thing, you know sometimes you don’t want to let something close to your mouth because it looks gross or just rubs you the wrong way? Maybe it’s the knowledge of raw eggs in there (though gimme a raw egg over steaming hot rice and I’ll eat it gladly), the butter (but I love butter?), the graininess?? Who knows. Nothing against cookie dough eaters though; all the more cookie dough for you 🙂

      1. KAREN!!! You need to try some vegan cookie dough. (I literally have some in my fridge at home lol). No eggs so no salmonella.
        I don’t have a go-to peanut butter cookie recipe on me anymore (I think I have it saved on an old Pinterest account) but I just do whatever comes up on google lol. They’re better if they have chocolate involved to balance out the peanut butter.

        As for the Nutella cookies, when I have time I make pinwheel cookies! So it’s like a little swirl of Nutella and shortbread. (This is the recipe I follow:

  2. I want cookies now. My favorite is my Nonna’s recipe for the walnut cookie! It is a PROCESS and requires special utensils but it is worth it every time.

    Re: cookie dough. I love it. There’s this vegan company that sells raw cookie dough that’s good to eat without worrying about raw eggs. I’ve never tried it, but I think about it a lot lol.

    1. I’ve never seen the walnut cookies before, but I’m so excited to try them out! I’m always a bit iffy about getting special equipment that only make one thing since they’ll just take up space all the other times (think madeleines, caneles), but if you say it’s worth it, I’ll do it haha

      Interesting… let me know if it lives up to the dream if you ever decide to take the plunge!

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