chocolate chip cookie
Chocolate chip heaven

Ah, the chocolate chip cookie. A classic. An American icon. A comfort so versatile, it is as satisfying raw as it is baked.

I’m sure we’ve all sampled our share of this pervasive sweet treat, from those that were passable (but got the job done), to those that reached heights of heavenly decadence.

Chocolate chip cookie unflattened golf ball version
Chocolate chip cookie, unflattened golf ball version

I had one such cookie lately that made me wonder: What makes the ultimate chocolate chip cookie?

After deep introspection, I came to the conclusion that it must satisfy a trifecta of textural perfection. It has to be crunchy, chewy, and gooey.

I was reminded of David Leite’s fantastic chocolate chip cookie article that came out almost a year ago in the New York Times, in which he described this much sought after “bull’s eye” of cookie greatness. When you first bite into the cookie, the crisp outer ring should break with a nice crunch, giving way to a satisfying chew, and progressing to near gooeyness in the center of it all. If done right, you should still be able to feel the sugar granules of the cookie dough on your tongue here.

cookie dough
Resist the temptation to eat all of this cookie dough and you will be handsomely rewarded

And then, of course, there is flavor.

The ultimate cookie must envelop you with all the homey flavors of butter, sugar, vanilla, and rich chocolate. Generous, copious amounts of quality, semi-sweet chocolate in each bite, please!

Now, I’ve made dozens upon dozens of chocolate chip cookies before, but how come mine just never seem to reach the ultimate level of amazingness that my favorite bakeries achieve? What is their secret?

As I learned from Mr. Leite and his arsenal of choco chip experts, it’s all about patience. The trick is to let the dough rest between 24-36 hours before baking them!

I mustered up all the self-restraint I had, gave it a shot, and was amazed at what a difference it made. As predicted, my cookie had a richer golden color, better texture, and had a significantly more complex flavor. The extra time allowed all the egg, butter and sugar to meld and soak into the flour so that when they baked up, the toffee caramel notes bloomed. Plus, a sprinkle of sea salt at the end adds an extra dimension to the sweetness.

Use the best ingredients you can. I went with my old faithful, unsalted, European Style Sweet Butter from Straus Family Creamery, and E. Guittard’s Semisweet Chocolate Organic wafers 66% Cacao. The quarter-sized baking discs melt well and cool with a pretty sheen. They also make for gorgeous, thin strata of luscious chocolate throughout the cookie.

Use an ice cream scoop to create golf ball-sized mounds of dough that are all even. I experimented with flattening versus not flattening the mounds before baking. With the ice cream scoop mounds, not flattening resulted in a prettier cookie that was a little cakier.

My favorite batch resulted in using a ½ cup scoop, creating baseball sized mounds, and flattening it slightly so that the cookie spread a bit. The final product was a cookie with wow factor. BIG wow factor. The perfect thing for a special birthday care package.

Jumbo chocolate chip cookie flattened baseball version
Jumbo chocolate chip cookie, flattened baseball version

Now that’s the ultimate chocolate chip cookie.

Recipe: NYT Chocolate Chip Cookie, Adapted from Jacques Torres

The Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie 15 May,2017Stephanie Hua

  • Dana

    This article is fantastic and the photos are so beautiful. I think I am going to bake some cookies this weekend. I don’t know if I can let the dough rest that long though…

  • Dana: thanks!! glad to be inspiring some cookie making 🙂 your patience shall be handsomely rewarded my dear…although SOME sneaking never hurt anyone 😉

  • Arlene

    These look fantastic! On my way to the grocery store to get the ingredients. Thanks for the recipe Stephanie..

  • Arlene: thanks 🙂 happy baking!!

  • This are gorgeous! Makes me want to make them all over again.

  • David: thanks so much! and thanks for writing that wonderful article. think it inspired masses of people to bake up a batch of homemade cookies…a beautiful thing.


Stephanie Hua

Stephanie Hua is the creator of Lick My Spoon, a place for all things delicious. So far she has learned that she very much enjoys salted caramel anything, a good soup dumpling is worth a scalded tongue, and there is no room in life for non-fat cheese and crappy chocolate. Also, a barrel of cheese balls never ends well.

Stephanie has been known to choose her company based on how much they can pack it down. Ability to endure cramped quarters, sketchy back alleys, and uncharted paths to seek out that special dish is also a plus in her book. If you fit the criteria, drop a note. You’ll probably get along just fine.

Stephanie’s writing and photography have been featured in Fodor’s Travel, Wine Enthusiast Magazine, Serious Eats, and Sundance Channel. Follow her on Facebook and @lickmyspoon.

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