Serious Eats: Recipes

Cook the Book: Chocolate Chip Cookies

[Photograph: Caroline Russock]

There's been a hole in my heart since the end of December. My kitchen is usually a hotbed of activity, but it has been sadly devoid of any baking action since the conclusion of A Cookie a Month 2009. There haven't been any warm sugary smells wafting through the air, nor any cookies to nibble on.

It was high time that I do something to rectify this situation, and testing out Thomas Keller's recipe for Chocolate Chip Cookies from Ad Hoc at Home seemed like the ideal opportunity. When we were tasting chocolate chip cookies for The Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie Tour, the cookies from Thomas Keller's Bouchon Bakery were some of my favorites and I wanted to see if this recipe would make for a close approximation.

The recipe is a pretty standard mix of chocolate chip cookie ingredients with a few differences. First off, Keller doesn't include vanilla in his recipe. I missed it in the final cookies, I suspect because I'm predisposed to look for hints of vanilla in chocolate chip. Secondly, he replaces standard chocolate chips with two chocolates, one sweet and one bitter, both cut by hand into irregular pieces. These two chocolates play off of each other and keep the cookies from having a one note sweetness.

After my cookies had cooled to tasting temperature I took a bite. They had an ideal crispness on the bottom, yet were soft within and the chocolate pieces were still melty. In my mind, this was chocolate chip cookie texture perfection. The flavor was something else—there was an austerity about them that came from the bitter chocolate. They were at once bitter and incredibly rich, unlike any chocolate chip cookie I've ever tasted, and they managed to keep the integrity of the high quality chocolate without letting the rich cookie dough overwhelm.

These cookies were worlds away from Chips Ahoy and remarkable different from the classic Toll House version that so many of us find synonymous with chocolate chip cookies. Their incredible depth of flavor might make you pause and think about the ingredients. For a humble chocolate chip cookie that's a pretty incredible feat.

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