The Quest for Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies

I received Thomas Keller and Sebastien Rouxel’s Bouchon Bakery book for Christmas and promptly spent the next two hours pouring over every photo and recipe in it, compiling a list of ingredients and supplies I would need to recreate every treat within it. This will be my project for the foreseeable future, attempting to recreate the glorious confections from Bouchon Bakery. Every month I will experiment with a new recipe and share with you my confusion, wonder and enlightenment over the whole experience.

Obviously, I set to work right away and started with the Chocolate Chunk and Chip Cookies.

cookie componentsChocolate chip cookies are my greatest culinary obsession. It seems trite to say that about something so simple, but it’s true. I think it stems from the fact that I have never made a perfect chocolate chip cookie but I have the exact idea of what a perfect chocolate chip cookie should be in my mind. Thin, crispy edges tinged a delicate golden brown with a succulent, melty interior that is neither too cakey nor too buttery.

1st week January-8

My cat, Persephone, is interested in what I’m baking.

Due to my deep respect for Thomas Keller as a Chef and business person, reflected in my desire to bake every recipe in his Bouchon Bakery book, I thought that his chocolate chip cookies would be my perfect ideal.

I’m sorry to disappoint you all, trust me I was pretty devastated too, but these cookies are not perfect. Though I followed the recipe to the letter, even pulling out the heavy duty scale to measure the ingredients exactly, I found the cookies to be overly sweet and too buttery. There was no vanilla in the recipe, something that I think imparts a great depth of flavor to an otherwise simple idea, and they were a bit salty. They baked beautifully, with that crisp outer edge and gooey interior, but I found their flavor wanting. Perhaps it is my own fault, I am not a fan of ultra sweet things in the first place, and I was not expecting these cookies to be so sugary.

1st week January-9I’ve tweaked the recipe for you all to include vanilla (try to use a high quality as it really affects the flavor profile, I like Mexican Vanilla) and I reduced the butter to suit my preferences. After reading the Food Lab’s analysis of chocolate chip cookie baking, I also browned half the butter and allowed it to cool before adding it to the mixture. This imparts more complexity to the otherwise mildly bland cookies. I don’t think Sebastien or Thomas Keller would mind, after all most of their recipes are tweaks of the classics.

1st week January-12 This is a pretty complex chocolate cookies recipe with strange measurements do to their conversation from the scale used at a popular bakery. You have to keep an eye on the mixture as you add the ingredients because over mixing really changes the consistency of the cookies. I promise though, the labor you put into these cookies is well worth. They are my go to cookies recipe ( I have made them three times in the last three weeks already…). 1st week January-29

The Quest for Chocolate Chip Cookies
  • 1½ cups all-purpose unbleached flour
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon coarse sea salt
  • ½ cups + 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
  • 1¾ teaspoons blackstrap molasses
  • ½ cup + 1 teaspoon white sugar
  • ½ cup milk chocolate chips
  • ⅔ cups dark chocolate chunks
  • ¾ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 3 tablespoons + 2½ teaspoons eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  1. Brown half the butter on the stove, stirring frequently so that it doesn't burn. Allow to cool either by whisking an ice cube into it or placing it briefly in the fridge while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.
  2. Prepare the flour, baking soda, cinnamon and salt by sifting together the ingredients in a separate bowl.
  3. In a small bowl, measure out the brown sugar and sift out any hard lumps or break them up with your fingers. Stir in the molasses and white sugar and mix well until the mixture is golden and fairly smooth.
  4. In a mixing bowl, cream half of the butter until it forms peaks before adding the sugars. Pulse for twenty seconds or so before adding the cooled brown butter and vanilla. Add the eggs and beat until just combined as over mixing will make the cookies spread and give them an odd sheen.
  5. Slowly add the dry ingredients, again careful not to over mix. Add the chocolate and incorporate with your hands, a spatula or wooden spoon. Chill overnight or at least for 30 minutes.
  6. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 325F. Roll the dough into 1½ inch balls and place six at a time on a baking tray. Bake for 4-7 minutes depending on the convection or standard oven in use, or until they are golden brown at the edges but still gooey in the center.
Adapted from the Chocolate Chunk and Chip recipe in Thomas Keller's Bouchon Bakery Cookbook.



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