The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie
I’ve been on a cookie bender all my life. I can remember my earliest weakness for the chewy Chips Ahoy, which came in the red packet, much different from their blue counterpart. And I have vivid memories of when my brothers and I discovered the perfect recipe for chocolate-sauce covered microwaved Oreos. Hot, melted Hershey’s over a soggy Oreo. It was a chocolate experience, to say the least.
The first time I had my roommate’s pumpkin chocolate chip cookies, their spicy, muffin-like chew was like tasting the first day of fall with chocolate mixed in. And come December, baking batches of Christmas cookies and designating their proper tins is my yearly happy place.
For as long as I can recall, my extended family has been obsessed with my Nana’s chocolate chip cookies. Being the youngest of our family, and prone to basing my decisions off those of my elder cousins, I too believed them to be the “best chocolate chip cookies in the world.” But the problem was, I hated them. “Mom, don’t tell dad, but I like Chip’s Ahoy more than Nana’s cookies. I just.can’t.stand.them,” I admitted to my mom in secrecy.
Don’t get me wrong, I loved my Nana to the moon and back, but each summer, when all the cousins and families were together, we’d anxiously await her arrival. The whole crowd would shout and yelp when the cookie tin was opened. I, however, was not amused. I took my bites into her chocolate chip cookies and winced: Hard. Crunch. Sugar. Almost as if they’d been left in the oven just three minutes too long, but with just enough sweetness that I’d still keep eating them. Crunchy bits of sugar lingered between my teeth because too much white sugar hadn’t been quite mixed in with the rest of the batter. Gritty, sandy, sugar bits. The chocolate chips have now re-solidified, cold even. The over-baked cookies that were once hot and soft out of the over had cooled, hardened and the chocolate chips become a separate entity from the rest of the cookie.
Then there’s the opposite: the perfect, chewy, chocolate chip cookie. A bit of a crunch on the outside, chewy in the center — the kind that leaves smears of chocolate on your lip because no matter how long it’s been since baking, the chocolate is still gooey. The chocolate and the rest of the cookie are one unified perfect entity, and it’s not too chewy. It still holds together. Before you know it, you’ve somehow polished off three without even thinking twice.
So what is it that makes this cookie so good? The moisture ratio (Cue Alton Brown). Specifically, in the case of chocolate chip cookies, the ratio of brown sugar to white sugar: more brown sugar equals more moisture equals more chew. It’s the same thing for say, a gingersnap cookie: for extra crunch, you’re using mostly white sugar and a little brown, but to get those really fluffy gingerbread men, you want extra molasses to really plump them up. We usually see extra fluffy pumpkin cookies because of the added moisture that comes with the pumpkin.
A few other factors will come into play for your chew factor. Butter is key. Melting your butter before creaming it will create a chewier cookie (remember, butter contains a lot of water), as will being sure to not over bake (take the cookies out when the outsides are just set, but the insides look a little underdone).
So here’s my perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe. Or at least perfect for me. It was a tough time of childhood cookie research, but I think it’s paid off.
Chewy chocolate chip cookies
- 1 cup butter, softened
- 2.5 cups all purpose flour
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 2 eggs
- 1 12-ounce bag of chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and line baking sheets with parchment paper. Combine flour, cinnamon, salt and baking soda. In a separate bowl, beat together sugars and butter. Add eggs and vanilla. Add dry ingredients and mix until combined. Drop by the tablespoon onto baking sheets and bake 10-12 minutes.