A blog of hopeful, inspired living: cooking & baking & growing & harvesting & preserving & gleaning & eating & sharing food... while bringing positive change to my kitchen and our food system.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The BEST Chocolate Chip Cookie

The BEST chocolate chip cookie ever? YES.

I'd heard about Jacques Torres' famous cookies from my friend Anne who swore up & down they were the best she'd ever had. I don't know what took me so long to make them. In hindsight, I should have bolted for my kitchen immediately after her declaration. Anne is someone to take seriously when it comes to all things delicious. This is the friend who shared the best gelato in the world with me at Terra Madre in Italy, who introduced me to the magical cooking of Heidi Swanson, Sunset's butternut squash & kale lasagna, and the chocolate beet cake of Nigel Slater. Her fresh strawberry ice cream is the reason I now own an ice cream maker... ok, ok, you get my point: why didn't I listen sooner?! Learn from my mistake: don't wait! Get thee to the oven!

I found Jacques Torres' recipe referenced by Martha Stewart and Serious Eats, but I used the one out of the New York Times. All the recipes I looked at were slightly different, which leads me to believe that Jacques Torres wants to keep his real world-famous cookie recipe a secret... understandably. This recipe is phenomenal, whether it's the true recipe, or an adaptation.

The 2008 New York Times article, Perfection? Hint: It's Warm and Has a Secretgives great information about why this recipe works so well. It comes down to four main details: time, chocolate, salt, and size. 

Ok, #1: Time. This refers to the hydration of the dough that happens as you patiently wait 24 - 36 hours  while the cookie dough sits, covered in the fridge, and you stand outside the fridge drooling in anticipation. I know, it's rough. But you can do it.

#2: Chocolate.  Those luscious dark chocolate disks really do make all the difference. You can even buy Jacques Torres' own chips. Or you can go to the grocery store and buy Guittard Semi-Sweet or Bittersweet disks (I even found these in Costco, recently!) or look for Valrhona dark chocolate disks (also called fèves) in more upscale supermarkets or online. You are shooting for something with a 60% or higher cocoa content. 

Handcrafted, flaky sea salt from Oregon.  The first hand-harvested, commercial salt produced in Oregon in a century.

#3: Salt. The dough contains salt, just like any cookie batter, but it's the flaky sea salt topping that really makes it. The cookie is crisp on the outside, with a deep caramel flavor that pops with the help of the outside salt.  I was lucky enough to have this salt from Jacobsen Salt Company on hand: a gift from Portland friends who pushed and shoved to get one of these rationed packets (no joke... well, almost no joke -- there is a per-customer limit in stores because it's that popular).

#4: Size.  Yes, size matters: these cookies are huge for a reason. It's all a part of the chemistry. At 3.5 ounces a piece, they are BIG. And for a reason. The size of the cookie really makes the striation of chocolate possible: i.e. terrific layers (and more layers) of dough and chocolate. The cookie has great surface area and bakes to a nice outside caramel-y crispness, but inside is soft, chewy, melty... and perfect.

I recommend weighing the ingredients. It's much more precise. Digital kitchen scales start at $10, and are worth every penny. 

The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies
Yield: 1.5 dozen cookies,  4 to 5 -inches in size.
2 cups minus 2 tablespoons (8 1/2 ounces) cake flour*
1 2/3 cups (8 1/2 ounces) bread flour*
                                                                * I've made this recipe with all-purpose flour only and it's delicious, too. Not having the bread & cake flour on hand is no reason to stop now! Simply substitute a full 1 pound, 1 ounce of all-purpose flour.
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt (I use kosher salt)
2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) light brown sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (8 ounces) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 1/4 pounds bittersweet chocolate disks or fèves, at least 60 percent cacao content 
Flaky sea salt

1.  Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a medium bowl. Set aside.
2. Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars together until very light, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. 
3.  Reduce speed to low, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds. 
4. Stir chocolate pieces in as gently as possible, without breaking them. 
5. Press plastic wrap against the top of the dough and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours. I baked mine in batches, keeping the dough in the fridge up to 72 hours.
6. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. 
7. Scoop 3 1/2-ounce mounds of dough (see above) onto the baking sheet. The NYT directions say  to turn horizontally any chocolate pieces that are poking up; it will make for a more attractive cookie, but I thought my cookies were darn attractive and I couldn't figure out how to turn all the chocolate chips -- there are so many of them! I guess just the obvious ones sticking up would be a start.
8.  Sprinkle lightly with the flaky sea salt and bake until golden brown but still soft, 18 to 20 minutes. Cool on the cookie sheet on a wire rack for 10 minutes, then slip cookies off the cookie sheet and onto the rack to cool more.  Repeat with remaining dough, or reserve dough, refrigerated, for baking remaining batches the next day. Eat warm! (they re-warm well with 15 seconds in the microwave or a minute in the toaster oven)

Mmmmmm!  Enjoy! 


  1. These sound SO GOOD! The chocolate looks so gooey and melty!

  2. that is one detailed chocochip cookie recipe, bookmarked & now i HAVE to try it!

  3. Thanks Eron. I love tasting all of your delicious creations!!!