Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies

Makes 16 large cookies.

Avoid using a nonstick skillet to brown the butter; the dark color of the nonstick coating makes it difficult to gauge when the butter is browned. Use fresh, moist brown sugar instead of hardened brown sugar, which will make the cookies dry. This recipe works with light brown sugar, but the cookies will be less full-flavored.

1 3/4 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (8 3/4 ounces)
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
14 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 3/4 sticks)
1/2 cup granulated sugar (3 1/2 ounces)
3/4 cups packed dark brown sugar (5 1/4 ounces)
1 teaspoon table salt
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 1/4 cups semisweet chocolate chips or chunks (see note)
3/4 cup chopped pecan or walnuts, toasted (optional)

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees. Line 2 large (18- by 12-inch) baking sheets with parchment paper. Whisk flour and baking soda together in medium bowl; set aside.

2. Heat 10 tablespoons butter in 10-inch skillet over medium-high heat until melted, about 2 minutes. Continue cooking, swirling pan constantly until butter is dark golden brown and has nutty aroma, 1 to 3 minutes. Remove skillet from heat and, using heatproof spatula, transfer browned butter to large heatproof bowl. Stir remaining 4 tablespoons butter into hot butter until completely melted.

3. Add both sugars, salt, and vanilla to bowl with butter and whisk until fully incorporated. Add egg and yolk and whisk until mixture is smooth with no sugar lumps remaining, about 30 seconds. Let mixture stand 3 minutes, then whisk for 30 seconds. Repeat process of resting and whisking 2 more times until mixture is thick, smooth, and shiny. Using rubber spatula or wooden spoon, stir in flour mixture until just combined, about 1 minute. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts (if using), giving dough final stir to ensure no flour pockets remain.

4. Divide dough into 16 portions, each about 3 tablespoons (or use #24 cookie scoop). Arrange 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets, 8 dough balls per sheet. (Smaller baking sheets can be used, but will require 3 batches.)

5. Bake cookies 1 tray at a time until cookies are golden brown and still puffy, and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft, 10 to 14 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking. Transfer baking sheet to wire rack; cool cookies completely before serving.

Note: Don't Bake in Batches Baking two trays at a time may be convenient, but it leads to uneven cooking. The cookies on the top tray are often browner around the edges than those on the bottom, even when rotated halfway through cooking.

 

Creating a New Classic Here's how we improved on the Toll House classic to create an even better cookie.

TOLL HOUSE RECIPE: Equal Amounts Brown and White Sugar - A 1-1 ratio of brown to white sugar creates a cookie that's neither crisp nor chewy.
OUR RECIPE: More Brown Sugar - Using more brown sugar than white makes for a chewier cookie.

TOLL HOUSE RECIPE: Creamed Solid Butter - Creaming butter creates a cakier texture in cookies.
OUR RECIPE: Browned, Melted Butter - Melting butter contributes to chewiness; browning it enhances flavor.

TOLL HOUSE RECIPE: 2 Whole Eggs - Whole eggs contribute to a drier texture.
OUR RECIPE: 1 Whole Egg, 1 Yolk - Eliminating one egg white also boosts chewiness.

TOLL HOUSE RECIPE: Beat and Bake - Baking the dough immediately after mixing doesn't allow the sugar to dissolve as fully as possible.
OUR RECIPE: Whisk and Wait - Whisking sugar into the liquid ingredients and then waiting 10 minutes allows more of it to dissolve, setting up better flavor and texture.

TOLL HOUSE RECIPE: Less Dough - The smaller the cookie, the more uniform its texture.
OUR RECIPE: More Dough - Three tablespoons of dough per cookie increases its crisp-chewy contrast.

 

Measure It Right Even a tablespoon too much or too little flour can have an impact on cookies. Here's how to measure accurately.

PREFERRED: WEIGH FLOUR
For the greatest accuracy, weigh flour before using it. Put a bowl on a scale, hit the "tare" button to set the scale to zero, and scoop the flour into the bowl.

SECOND-BEST: DIP AND SWEEP
Dip a dry measuring cup into the flour, sweeping away excess flour with a flat edge. This method yields more accurate results than spooning flour into a measuring cup.

 

Recipe Testing
For Perfect Cookies, Look to Sugar Crunchy edges, chewy centers, and big butterscotch flavors—that chocolate chip cookie framework sounded pretty sweet to us. As it turns out, perfect cookies have a lot to do with sugar and how it’s treated. Sugar that is dissolved in liquid before baking caramelizes more readily than sugar that simply melts when exposed to the same amount of heat. What would happen if we rested our cookie batter after we added the sugar to allow more of it to dissolve before going into the oven?

EXPERIMENT
We prepared two batches of our Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies. Dough from the first batch went straight from the mixing bowl onto the baking sheet; the other batch rested for 10 minutes (with occasional whisking) after we combined the sugar with the recipe’s liquids.

RESULTS
Cookies baked from the rested batter boasted not only richer, deeper flavor but also crisper edges.

EXPLANATION
Dissolving the sugar in liquid provided by the melted butter, vanilla, and egg (accelerated by whisking and resting) affects both flavor and texture. Dissolved sugar breaks down more quickly from crystalline sucrose into glucose and fructose, which caramelize at a lower temperature to form many rich, new flavor compounds. As the dissolved, caramelized sugar cools, it takes on a brittle structure. In our cookies, this brittle texture is more evident at the edges. Why? As the oven burns off moisture from the cookie perimeter, the remaining moisture gets pulled into the center, keeping it chewy.