At Serious Eats, Kenji Lopez-Alt turned 32 pounds of flour and other ingredients into more than 1500 cookies and in the process discovered how to make the perfect chocolate chip cookie.
You see, I’ve never been able to get a chocolate chip cookie exactly the way I like. I’m talking chocolate cookies that are barely crisp around the edges with a buttery, toffee-like crunch that transitions into a chewy, moist center that bends like caramel, rich with butter and big pockets of melted chocolate. Cookies with crackly, craggy tops and the complex aroma of butterscotch. And of course, that elusive perfect balance between sweet and salty.
Some have come close, but none have quite hit the mark. And the bigger problem? I was never sure what to change in order to get what I want. Cookies are fickle and the advice out there is conflicting. Does more sugar make for crisper cookies? What about brown versus white? Does it matter how I incorporate the chocolate chips or whether the flour is blended in or folded? How about the butter: cold, warm, or melted?
So many questions to ask and answers to explore! I made it my goal to test each and every element from ingredients to cooking process, leaving no chocolate chip unturned in my quest for the best. 32 pounds of flour, over 100 individual tests, and 1,536 cookies later, I had my answers.
Dang, this is like The Power Broker for baked goods, a cookie magnum opus.
Update: Back in 2007, my wife took a different approach to making the perfect chocolate chip cookie: she averaged the ingredients from 12 of the best cookie recipes she could find. The averaged recipe reads, in part:
2.04 cups all-purpose flour
0.79 tsp. salt
0.79 tsp. baking soda
0.805 stick unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
0.2737 stick unsalted butter, cold
0.5313 stick unsalted butter, melted