You might remember my last baking experiment, where I recreated Ruby Tuesday’s Chocolate Tall Cake. All in all, it was a success, with only a few minor mishaps. (The chocolate mousse cake that I baked looked like a disfigured burger patty smushed in between two slices of Rye bread, but let’s face it, I’m no pastry master!)
I’ve decided to take on something even closer to my heart: the chocolate chip cookie. After my recent quest to find the best chocolate chip cookie in D.C. for Serious Eats, it only makes sense.
To start, I look to a highly influential article from The New York Times called, “Perfection? Hint: It’s Warm and Has a Secret.”
I remember reading this article when it first ran in 2008. David Leite chronicles his search for the perfect chocolate chip cookie and gives his resulting recipe (adapted from Jacques Torres) at the end. Of course, I gave it a try. At first, the steps seemed tedious. Why couldn’t I just use chocolate chips? Chocolate feves, or disks, were more expensive and difficult to find in the grocery store. Even worse, I had to chill the cookies in the refrigerator for 36 hours before I baked them. How was I going to wait a day and a half until I could finally eat these labor-intensive, high maintenance cookies? Despite my reservations, I followed the recipe exactly. The result? Oh my God. They were, in a word, awesome.
In his article, Leite visits several well-known New York bakeries, including The City Bakery. I stopped here on a recent trip to the city and tried one of their famed chocolate chip cookies. I stand by this statement – it was, and still is, the best chocolate chip cookie I’ve ever had.
In the article, Leite asks The City Bakery’s owner, Maury Rubin, why his cookies are just so damned good. “We bake them in small batches every hour so they’re always fresh…It’s the Warm Rule…Even a bad cookie straight from the oven has its appeal,” said Rubin.
Rubin has another secret. He chills the dough for 36 hours before baking the cookies, a technique that results in a deep, golden brown cookie with a crispy, chewy texture.
There are other qualities for the ideal chocolate chip cookie that Leite discusses, such as using at least 60% cacao chocolate and the importance of salt. Sprinkle a pinch of sea salt (known as Maldon) over your cookies before you bake them to add a new dimension of flavor to your recipe. Leite notes that many bakers consider this interaction of salty and sweet the real secret to the perfect chocolate chip cookie.
I think Leite’s article is an extraordinary piece. If you haven’t already, I encourage you to try his recipe. It will change your perspective on chocolate chip cookies. It certainly did for me.
So, the question remains: Can I make a better chocolate chip cookie than Leite? Maybe not, but it’s worth a try.
Here’s the plan. First, I’ll create my own recipe. Second, I will rest the dough for different amounts of time to see how it impacts the cookies, much like Leite did in his article. The resting times will be one hour (so I don’t have to wait too long to try them!), 12 hours, 24 hours and 36 hours.
Stay tuned for part two: The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie Experiment!