Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Today's Lesson: Compare and Contrast

You are looking at [a photo of] what should be the world's BEST chocolate chip cookies, based on modifications made to the original Toll House cookie recipe by some of the world's most renowned bakers and chocolate artisans.

This batch, made by me, is not so much the world's best.

Compare this picture with the one in the article. My cookies came out dry and thick, lacking the goo factor that's so apparent in the NYTimes picture. See how the NYTimes cookies have folds of dough at the edges? In these folds you can actually see the process of baking, almost watch the dough melting on the cookie sheet! Doesn't that texture suggest a slight crispiness on the outside, almost a crust if that's possible, and a soft, warm interior? Cookie heaven.

My cookies are neither crunchy nor doughy (either of which would have been preferable), but have a kind of a soulless texture reminiscent of plastic-wrapped cookies sold in mini markets. In baked goods especially texture adds to flavor, so these taste soulless as well. You can't get into heaven without a pure and happy soul, hence these are NOT cookie heaven.

If I were to explore the Food Science 101 behind the failure of this batch of cookies, I would probably conclude that it was too humid that day -- not a bad assumption in Seattle -- an environmental factor which can alter baking outcomes significantly. I think I could have fixed the problem by using less flour, but I'm not a baker and I don't have a dough thumb, or whatever the term would be for the baker's instinctive knowledge of dough behavior.

So I'm still in search of the world's best chocolate chip cookie recipe. Do you have one?


  1. Cooks illustrated had a recipe in their latest issue. Remind me and I'll bring it for you next week :)

  2. I think it's all about the wet to dry ratio. I make the same recipe (from WFP) and it always comes out a little different. Size of egg:amount of flour. I think that's it.