For our third date, Josh took me to a screening of Willy Wonka in the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. Sweetest and most romantic date ever… I’ll always remember it. I made a picnic dinner and topped it off with a big batch of made-from-scratch chocolate chip cookies, including extras for him to take home to the kids later. Nice move, right?
Little did I know that Josh is a chocolate chip cookie perfectionist. My regular old Tollhouse recipe cookies didn’t stand a chance against his shortlist of cookie favorites: 1) Clementine, 2) The Tavern, 3) Ammo (although they have since changed their recipe and now their cookies suck), 4) Jin Patisserie and 5) XIV.
Of course, he didn’t tell me this at the time. Like any sweet new boyfriend, he told me they were great and I was wonderful and how amazing you’re already cooking for me on our third date. Etc.
But one day the truth came out. My cookies were good. But they weren’t THE BEST. You see, “THE BEST” chocolate chip cookies are thin and crispy on the outside, melty on the inside, light as air, and packed with a deep and complex flavor punch.
A challenge. An OCD perfectionist’s culinary challenge (my kind of throwdown).
And thus the quest for THE BEST chocolate chip cookie began…
I started making a batch of these cookies every month for Josh’s poker game, tweaking the recipe slightly each time. I’m not going to tell you all the steps I tried because I can barely remember them. But I will tell you the four secrets to these cookies:
- Lower temperature, longer bake time: This gives the cookies time to spread out and crisp up without burning. The center stays melty while the bottom and top get a nice crunch.
- Salt: Not table salt, not kosher salt. The fanciest, prettiest, flakiest salt you can buy. A few crystals sprinkled on top of the cookies halfway through baking renders a delicate crunch and flavor complexity you rarely find in a chocolate chip cookie.
- High Quality Dark Chocolate Chips: no Nestle, no Ghiradelli’s, no Hershey’s. Get thee to Surfas (or buy online) these, the world’s most extraordinary dark chocolate chips (the semisweet version is nice too). You will never go back, so keep a big stock on hand. Trust me, the price is worth it.
- Love the Scale: I started using a kitchen scale instead of cup measurements in baking and discovered a whole new world of consistent results. It’s just too easy to pack your flour too hard or too soft which skews your consistency. Get a baking scale and weigh your dry ingredients whenever you’re making cookies, cakes, bread etc.
Josh’s Chocolate Chip Cookies (a.k.a. dark chocolate chip fleur de sel cookies)
- 375 grams all purpose flour (roughly equivalent to 3 cups)
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temp
- 1 cup sugar
- 1 cup packed golden brown sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 16 ounces dark chocolate chips
- Nonstick spray with flour, such as Baker’s Joy
- Fleur de sel or other flaky white sea salt
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F. Spray rimmed baking sheet with nonstick spray. Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a bowl and whisk to blend. Using electric stand mixer, beat butter in large bowl on medium speed until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add sugar and brown sugar, beat until well blended. Add eggs and vanilla, beat until mixture is creamy and well blended. Gradually add flour mixture, beating just until incorporated. Stir in chocolate chips.
Using a tablespoon-sized cookie scooper, drop dough in rounded tablespoonfuls onto sprayed baking sheet, spacing a few inches apart. Using a fork, flatten cookies into disks. Bake cookies until light brown and crispy on the bottom, about 15 minutes. Halfway through baking, sprinkle cookies with sea salt (about 5-7 flakes per cookie) and rotate pans. Cool cookies for a few minutes on the baking sheet, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.
Make ahead: You can store the raw cookie dough in the refrigerator wrapped in plastic wrap for about 3 days. I’ve tried freezing it for a couple weeks, but the thawed dough didn’t make the greatest cookies, so best to make these fresh. Store cookies in a jar or plastic bag (I find that storing them in an airtight container makes them soggy). Reheat for a minute in a toaster oven until warm and lightly crispy.
Got your cookies? Good. Pour a big glass of ice cold milk and go to town.
I convinced Tasha to be my cookie model for a few minutes before school. I don’t have any money, I told her, but you’ll get paid in cookies! Hired! (kids are so easy)
Be careful, these cookies are quite tempting. Teddy
will eat anything has exquisite taste and held a 20 minute stakeout while we were shooting photos. The second we finished, she made her move.