A Cookie a Day: The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies

The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chewy chocolate chip cookies with crisp edges, a rich, buttery, toffee-like flavor, big chocolate chunks, and a sprinkle of sea salt.

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[Photograph: J. Kenji López-Alt]

J. Kenji Lopez-Alt

It was a little over a year ago today that I finished a quest that I started when I ate my first Chips Ahoy! as a little kid. OK, "finished" is a strong word. Like The Lord of the Rings, this was one of those quests that honestly feels like it never ends, but at least I made it to the first climax. After months of tweaking, testing, and gorging myself on butter, sugar, and chocolate, I'd arrived at the closest I'd ever come to the platonic ideal of a chocolate cookie.

And that phrase in itself is a problem because, well, there's no such thing as an ideal chocolate chip cookie. At least, not one that we can all agree upon. Like pizzas and hamburgers, the ideal chocolate chip cookie varies from person to person, from mood to mood. For me, it's almost always a cookies that's crisp, almost toffee-like around its edges. Dark brown, buttery, caramel-scented. From there, it slowly transitions into soft, chewy, and ever-so-lightly leavened as it inches towards the center until you reach the very middle: soft, moist and gooey.

And what of that chocolate? I like my chocolate in multiple forms. There's the obvious: big pockets of molten chocolate that ooze out as you bite into the cookie, spreading across your tongue like warm velvet. But I also want a thin ripple of chocolate flavor running through the space in between. Something that'll make every milk-dipped bite taste like a childhood glass of cold chocolate milk.

Does that sound good to you? Good. Make the recipe as-is. A good amount of browned butter and an overnight rest will deliver all of this glory to you. Like your cookie a little different? Well then, just read up on the science and you'll be able to adapt that recipe to suit your wildest (or tamest) chocolate-tinted dreams. We can fight about what makes the best chocolate chip cookie after we've wiped the crumbs from our chins.