Chocolate Chip Cookie Showdown: Testing Recipes From Three Cookie Books
Left to right: The Cookiepedia, The Treats Truck Baking Book, Cookies at Home With the Culinary Institute of America
Whether you like 'em chewy and studded with tiny milk-chocolate morsels or crispy and stuffed with big bittersweet chunks, there's really no such thing as a bad chocolate chip cookie. Yet no chocolate chip cookie is ever as good as the one that Mom/Grandma/other person from your childhood used to make for you, no? Chocolate chip cookies are as about as Proustian as you can get, and the style you grew up with is most likely the type of cookie you still love. Nevertheless, with a crop of cookie cookbooks being released this season, we knew we had to dive in for a chocolate chip cookie showdown. Using the same ingredients, we tested chocolate chip cookie recipes from The Cookiepedia, The Treats Truck Baking Book, and Cookies at Home With the Culinary Institute of America, to determine this season's chocolate chip cookie champion.
The Cookiepedia by Stacy Adimando revisits classic cookie recipes, updating and improving on the originals for modern tastes. The book has a quirky feel, with hand-drawn pictures and a colorful, graphic layout. The recipe also gives helpful tips in the sidebars. For example, many supermarket brands of chips are made to resist melting and so it's best to buy chocolate chunks if you want a meltier cookie. And that letting the dough chill for one to two hours before baking will create a thicker, chewier cookie. Each recipe also ends with blank lines for you to fill in your own notes about each cookie.
What usually distinguishes one chocolate chip cookie from another is the sugar content; brown sugar usually helps create a chewier cookie. This recipe uses both light brown and white sugar, plus all the other standard ingredients, like baking soda, salt, butter, and vanilla. All in all, these cookies were fine, though we would have preferred a bit more of a molasses flavor, which was promised in the headnote and which didn't actually come through that well.
We then turned our attention to the The Treats Truck Baking Book by Kim Ima, which features recipes for the classic cookies, brownies, and cakes that the mobile bakery has become known for. The handy little book is cheery and filled with cutesy photos and diagrams, and you get a real feel for Ima's love of baking.
The recipe for the chocolate chip cookies is pretty straightforward and easy to follow (although the measurement for 3/8 of a cup of sugar would have been helpful if written as 6 tablespoons, since most measuring cups don't have 1/8-cup measurements). The biggest difference in this cookie recipe, however, was the addition of one cup of dark brown sugar. Whereas the first cookie had been somewhat plain, these were rich with a deep, complex flavor. Not overly sweet, but with a good kick of brown sugar and nicely chewy, this is the type of cookie we have in mind when we think about chocolate chip cookies.
But why stop at just two recipes? Cookies at Home With the Culinary Institute of America, hailing from the famed culinary school, is a cookie tome with more than 100 recipes (the other books had about 50) and gorgeously shot photographs. The cookies featured in the book include all the beloved favorites, but also "cookie projects" like gingerbread houses, and savory cookies.
Unlike the other two cookie recipes, the chocolate chip cookie recipes called for pastry flour as opposed to all-purpose flour, which made shopping slightly more of a pain in the ass since our local supermarket didn't carry the lower-protein flour. Supposedly it makes for a softer, tenderer cookie, but the difference was very subtle. The flavor of these cookies was most similar to the first one, but a little bit richer. The recipe also makes about double the amount of cookies as the other two, which is good if you're making cookies for a large group.
That said, if we had to pick a winning cookie from the bunch, there's no question that it would be the deeply flavorful chewy cookies from The Treats Truck Baking Book. They were everything we wanted a cookie to be (note: we used semisweet chocolate chips; both semisweet or milk were suggested): filled with lots of gooey chocolate, crisped slightly on the edges but otherwise chewy and soft, and all-around well-balanced and full of flavor. Try them out yourself: The Treats Truck Baking Book is out next week.
The winning cookie!
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