Published May 1, 2009. From Cook's Illustrated.
Our perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe had to produce a cookie that would be moist and chewy on the inside and crisp at the edges, with deep notes of toffee and butterscotch to balance its sweetness. Melting the butter gave us the chewiness we were looking for. Cutting back on the flour and eliminating an egg white also improved texture and brought the brown sugar flavor to the fore. To give our chocolate chip cookie recipe the crisp edges and toffee flavor we wanted, we let the sugar dissolve in the batter for 10 minutes, then baked the cookies at a high temperature so the edges darkened while the centers stayed soft.
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. For our winning brand of chocolate chips, see related tasting.
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.
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.
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.