Happy Friday! I wrote this review my freshman year of college in my composition class; this was about the time I started to think about having a food blog, and I discovered my passion for writing about what I bake. I organized a chocolate chip cookie showdown, and you can see the results here.
Many times bakers may be compared to scientists; the kitchen becomes their laboratory and experimentations are a common occurrence. The desire to experiment usually stems from the need to find that perfect combination between ingredients to result in a mouth-watering concoction. In every baker’s kitchen, a must-have recipe can be found: chocolate chip cookies. All kinds of variations exist as a result of the constant experimentation. A few bakers have even felt the need to declare their chocolate chip cookies “perfect” or “the best ever.” As a baker myself, I find it particularly intriguing to try the assortment of recipes and review them based on a few criteria. I decided to put two different chocolate chip cookie recipes to the test to see if they held up to their reputation. I found two famous recipes to compare side-by-side. I made contestant number one to be the New York Times “Best Chocolate Chip Cookies.” Contestant number two was from the popular food magazine, Cook’s Illustrated, who declared their chocolate chip cookies to be “perfect.” I was excited to try out each of these recipes. After putting two top-notch recipes in the boxing ring, I pronounced the New York Times recipe to win the title of the best chocolate chip cookies ever. While they have a few weaknesses against them, they still out-cookie the others on many different levels. The combined texture, taste, and uniqueness of this recipe results in perfection to the taste-buds and as close to heaven that you may ever get.
There is a standard recipe for the average chocolate chip cookie. It contains all-purpose flour, a general white sugar to brown sugar ratio, and some type of lard. However, to be set apart from the rest, a baker must stray away from the usual. Both of these recipes manage to incorporate something special into the recipe. Cook’s Illustrated requires of the baker to “brown” the butter before mixing it into the cookie dough. New York Times recommends that the dough is chilled for 48 hours at minimum. The difference between these recipes and the average mixture is evident throughout the whole baking process, as I observed.
I began with the recipe for the New York Times cookies. The recipe calls for a couple ingredients that the average kitchen does not supply: cake flour and bread flour. Apparently, this is a necessity and must not be substituted for the typical flour. Aside from those two ingredients, this was a pretty typical cookie recipe and took only fifteen minutes to mix. While stirring, the dough gets very tough and can be hard on hand mixers which I found out the hard way. I had to finish stirring by hand but the results seemed to be exceptional anyway. The chilling of the dough is what truly makes these cookies special; it must be where the magic happens. I baked the cookies about 58 hours after I had put the dough in the refrigerator. I rolled them into golf-ball size dough balls and they baked for precisely 13 minutes. I was amazed at the perfect appearance of these cookies and the taste was even better. The flavors were perfectly combined and the texture was superb. For me, these were definitely five-star cookies all around.
After putting the other cookies in the refrigerator for two days, I mixed up the next batch to be able to compare preparation of the two. To begin with, I had a new cooking experience by “browning” butter. A portion of the butter is put in the saucepan, melted, and then constant stirring is required until the butter turns a dark golden brown. Once this was accomplished, the remainder of the butter was added and melted. I then mixed in the sugar and dark brown sugar, which was caramelized. I was a little skeptical during this process as it looked a little odd to me, but I continued on. The remainder of the ingredients was stirred in and the dough began to look more normal. The cookies were meant to be large and baked in the oven for about 10 minutes. They were very sensitive to time and I had to catch them just at the right moment, watching carefully the whole time. Then it was time for the taste test. My verdict: the cookies looked very appealing and I couldn’t wait to try one. My initial thoughts were that they had a very distinct flavor that came from the butter. If I put a name on the flavor, I would call it butterscotch. I was not a huge fan of this taste. However, they were amazingly crispy on the outside but chewy in the middle. My final decision was that the cookies were nevertheless delicious! Perfect? No, but extremely tasty.
It then came time to get down to the nitty-gritty. Which cookie was better? First, I ran through the similarities and differences of the recipes. They each contained more brown sugar than granulated sugar, the same amount of vanilla, and were both baked at similar temperatures and lengths. Different types of flour were used and the butter was creamed for the NY Times recipe rather than melted and browned. As for ease of preparation, the NY Times cookies were much easier and faster to mix up. However, the chilling time has to be taken into account. It was extremely difficult to wait two whole days for cookies. For those of you who are concerned about the nutrition of the cookies, well then, ask me for an original copy of my review. After all, I am sure not concerned about my health when there are chocolate chip cookies involved.
Both cookies were beautiful in appearance, but the NY Times had a leg up in that category; they just looked so perfect! Lastly, the NY Times cookies won in the taste category for me by a large margin. They were the perfect combination of crispy, chewy, moist, salty, sweet, and had just the right amount of chocolate. The winner of this competition for me was easy to determine: the New York Times “Best Chocolate Chip Cookie.” However, I would recommend either recipe. Both are sure to make your taste buds tingle, your pants a bit tighter, and your day a whole lot better.