Perfect Choc-chip Cookies

Big, warm, chewy and rich – the perfect chocolate chip cookie is worth getting right. Here’s our favourite recipe for this home-baked classic.

Investigating Cookies

If you take your chocolate chips seriously, you’ll be pleased to hear you’re not alone. Countless chefs and food writers have announced their “perfect” recipe, and each one has legions of loyal fans. In 2007, the New York Times – famous for its investigative food journalism and its unveiling of pioneering techniques – published a recipe for the Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie. What did the paper’s research uncover?

1. Rest the dough for 24-36 hours. Kitchen science explains this one: leaving the dough overnight (or up to 36 hours, as one NY baker confided) allows the liquid ingredients, and particularly the slow-moving egg, to soak into the dry ones. This supplies a drier dough, providing better texture and rounded flavour to the finished cookies.

2. Use great Ingredients. Cookies come with or without eggs, with dried fruit, brown or white sugar, and even sometimes studded with potato crisps. But the perfect chocolate chip cookie contains few Ingredients: flour, butter, sugar, eggs, chocolate, baking powder, and salt. Make sure each one is the best it can be if you’re aiming for perfection. Choose local, farm-fresh butter, free-range, organic eggs, and organic, stonemilled flour. The chocolate must be at least 60% cocoa solids.

3. Don’t be afraid of the salt. Renowned US baker Dorie Greenspan made the point that home bakers are sometimes reluctant to use salt – but a good extra pinch of salt can sometimes make a surprising difference to the finished cookie. It’s especially pleasing with chocolate.

Perfect Choc-Chip Cookies

If you have time, cover and chill the dough for up to 36 hours – when the NY Times tested their recipe, the longer resting time gave the best results.

You Need:
  • 240g (8½oz) plain flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • ¾ tsp sea salt
  • 150g (5oz) unsalted butter
  • 150g (5oz) soft brown sugar
  • 110g (4oz) caster sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • 1tsp vanilla extract
  • 250g (9oz) dark or white chocolate (you can also add 100g (4oz) cranberries for a festive variation)

Preheat the oven to 180ºC. Sift the flour, baking powder and salt into a bowl and set aside. Using an electric mixer or wooden spoon, cream the butter and sugars until it’s pale and fluffy. Add the egg and vanilla, and beat until it is all smooth. Add the flour to the bowl, and combine gently and briefly.

Chop the chocolate: we think the perfect cookie has some larger chunks and some tiny shards that disperse through the dough. Shop-bought chips will retain their dainty shapes a bit better, which makes the cookies more aesthetically pleasing – so it’s up to you! To chop easily, put the chocolate into a plastic bag and bash with a rolling pin, then tip it straight into the dough.

Add the choc chips and stir just to incorporate. If you have time, cover the bowl and chill for 12-36 hours.

Dollop tablespoons or golf ball sized pieces of dough onto lined baking trays, pressing lightly to flatten just a bit. If you’re feeling brave, sprinkle some extra sea salt over some of the cookies – a good way to experiment with this extra flavour. Bake in the oven for 12-20 minutes (depending on the size you’ve made them) or until light gold, and cool a bit before tucking in!

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