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a stack of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies

Is There a Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie?

As a technique-driven home cook, I’m as into the “perfect” fill-in-the-blank recipe claim as anybody. It’s good click bait.

But as I’m waiting for the page to load, I often think, what is the perfect anything?

Take the chocolate chip cookie. There are dozens of recipes claiming to be the perfect, the best, the ultimate.

giant chocolate chip cookie with a glass of milk at lynnecurry.com

Oh, really?

chocolate chip cookie recipes

My chocolate chip cookie craving hit –after months of completely eliminating sugar {even in all the hidden and unexpected places, like fish sauce}–just before the start of spring.

I daydreamed about a big batch of chocolate chip cookies, sampling all the dough I wanted {within reason} and then eating a single fresh-baked cookie.

Typically, I use the good-old Toll House recipe {I’m kind of loyal because I grew up right near Whitman, Massachusetts where the Toll House cookie originated}. But I was lured into the notion of an even better chocolate chip cookie.

The masters in the search for perfection are the faceless American Test Kitchen crew members. One of their latest recipes is clearly titled Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies.

baked giant chocolate chip cookies on a cooling rack at lynnecurry.com

And maybe it was for them, for someone else.

Mind you, the changes they made to the original Toll House–browning the butter, more brown sugar than granulated, etc.– were all very sensible and studied–as one expects from America’s Test Kitchen. Their recipes are some of the most reliable on the planet.

But along with the fact that the dough wasn’t very yummy {and for me, dough eating is part of the entire cookie baking enterprise}, this was far from my perfect chocolate chip cookie.

The perfect chocolate chip cookie is…

I also thought long and hard about why this was and what is my ideal cookie. So, here are my 10 criteria for chocolate chip cookie perfection, in no particular order.

scoops of chocolate chip cookies ready to be baked at lynnecurry.com

My perfect chocolate chip cookie is:

  1. big, like one you buy at a bakery
  2. crisp on the edges and chewy in the middle
  3. generous with semi-sweet chocolate chips
  4. made with whole grain flour, like spelt or whole wheat
  5. a little salty from good kosher salt
  6. warm with the chocolate near-liquid
  7. the one I bake with my kids
  8. two cookies sandwiched with vanilla ice cream
  9. day-old, dunked into a bone-chilling glass of milk
  10. the one someone else baked for me

A half-eaten chocolate chip cookie with a glass of milk at lynnecurry.com

So really, perfection is mutable, situational, and when it comes to cookies, highly opportunistic.

In all, I think the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe is the one you already know and bake for yourself and those you love.

Chocolate Chip Cookies on Demand

I baked up a batch of these giant whole wheat chocolate chip cookies for our ski trip for spring break. But since they’re best warm, I only baked up a few for, you know, sampling purposes.

a scoop and chocolate chip cookie dough on a baking sheet at lynnecurry.com

The rest, I portioned onto a baking sheet and froze them to bake a few at a time over the course of the week. {I have been known to nibble on a frozen cookie dough ball straight from the freezer, but don’t tell the kids.}

You can also refrigerate the mounds of cookie dough for one week. This method extends the perfect pleasures of homemade chocolate chip cookies without any extra work.

I’d say that chocolate chip cookies on demand could not be any more perfect.

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a stack of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies
5 from 3 votes
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Whole Wheat Chocolate Chip Cookies

Now that I use whole wheat for chocolate chip cookies, I can't go back to white flour. I love the flavor of it with semi-sweet chocolate chips, though you can certainly substitute dark chocolate. This recipe is adapted from Good to the Grain by Kim Boyce. For best results, bake one batch of these large cookies at a time. You can either bake additional batches, or see the notes for storing the pre-portioned dough in the refrigerator or freezer to have homemade chocolate chip cookies on demand.

Course Dessert
Cuisine American
Prep Time 10 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Servings 24 large cookies
Author Lynne

Ingredients

  • 3 cups white whole wheat flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 2 sticks (8 ounces) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs pastured
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • 12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips

Instructions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F with the oven rack in the middle position. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

  2. Whisk the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl until well blended.

  3. Mix the butter, brown sugar and granulated sugar in a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment on low speed until very smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time along with the vanilla and blend well.

  4. Scrape down the mixer with a rubber spatula. Add the flour mixture and mix on low speed just until the flour is incorporated. Add the chocolate chips and blend just long enough to distribute them through the dough.

  5. Scoop the dough (about 3 tablespoon portions) into mounds and arrange them on the baking sheet at least 3 inches apart. Five or six cookies will fit on a baking sheet.

  6. Bake the cookies, rotating the baking sheet halfway through, until they are lightly browned and the centers are fully baked, 16-18 minutes. Slightly underbaking this cookies produces the best results since these cookies crisp up as they cool. Transfer the cookies to a cooling rack for 5 minutes and enjoy them warm.

  7. Repeat with the remaining dough to bake another batch. Or, scoop portions of the dough onto a small baking sheet or baking dish lined with parchment paper to store in the refrigerator or freezer for future use following the instructions in the recipe notes.

Recipe Notes

To make the cookie dough in advance, scoop portions into a parchment lined baking sheet or baking dish that will fit in your refrigerator or freezer. Cover and refrigerate the dough for up to 1 week, baking as directed. Or, freeze for four hours or overnight and then package into freezer storage bags. To bake cookies from the freezer, arrange the cookie dough on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper and place into a preheated 350 degrees F oven. These cookies will be thicker than unfrozen dough, so if you prefer a thinner cookie, let the dough defrost for 20-30 minutes before baking as directed.

Comments

  1. Oh my! Your cookies look so soft and fluffy! Thanks for the tips about freezing and thinning. I didn’t know that about cookies.

    1. I’m glad that was helpful. That is a pro baking trick I picked up, so am happy to pass it along because it makes so much sense at home, too.

  2. I had some of these yesterday but with white chocolate chips. Using the scoop is a brilliant idea, it will give me some giant cookies ;).

    1. Yeah, they’re giant, but same as you get in a bakery. Plus, you just eat 1 cookie!

  3. My kids will kill for this tray of cookies. Who doesn’t love chocolate chip cookies? I’m yet to find one.

    1. Exactly!

  4. Healthier cookies!! A good reason to eat a few more;) Yummy!

    1. Well, I’d never put cookies in the healthy category, but more whole grains is always a good thing. My kids actually prefer whole wheat flour for so many baked goods. Maybe they’ve never known any other way–ha! Nonetheless, yummy, as you say.

  5. Wow these look PERFECT. Love the option of freezing the dough. What a great way to bake up a batch of fresh cookies whenever you like.

    1. Thank you, Gloria. Freezing portioned cookie dough is even easier than slice and bake cookies. Hope you give it a try.

  6. Nice recipe! I always use my 1 1/2 tbsp scoop for cookies, but next time I might try and double it. I can’t even keep frozen cookie dough balls around here though, bunch of cookie monsters!

    1. Thanks, Jacqueline! Yeah, these are big cookies. About to make some more because I’m in the same boat as you!

  7. never thought to make cookies with whole wheat flour. That’s a pretty good idea to make them a tad healthier!

    1. I do it for the flavor. I love whole wheat and other grain varieties in baked good.

  8. Anthony

    I want to make these for my wife. But I don’t have a fancy mixer. Can mixing by hand give the same results?

    1. Of course! I grew up making chocolate chip cookies by hand. The only difference for this recipe is that you’ll want to use room temperature butter rather than cold. (But you also don’t want butter that’s too soft or the cookies won’t have good structure.) So, all you need to do is cream the butter with the sugar in Step 3 by hand. Here’s an illustrated guide: https://food52.com/blog/9923-how-to-cream-butter-and-sugar-without-a-mixer.
      If the dough gets a little warm during hand mixing, just chill it for 30 minutes or so before shaping the cookies. Happy baking!

  9. Anthony

    Thanks Lynnes, I watched my Mom “cream” ingredients by hand countless time when I was a kid.
    And thanks for the link to the tutorial on creaming butter and sugar – looks very similar to what Mom used to do!

    1. It’s a labor of love, Anthony! Hope your wife enjoys those cookies.

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