Chocolate chip cookies are very much the darling of the cookie world. They’re classic for a reason: they’ve consistently hit the spot for sweet teeth all around the world for generations. It’s impressive just how many variations on this one kind of cookie there are! Cakey, chewy, crispy, tons of chocolate, less chocolate, milk chocolate or dark chocolate, flaky salt or no flaky salt—the list goes on. I’ve tried what feels like thousands of different recipes over the years, first starting with my mom’s old recipe, printed and stored in a binder with no reference to indicate where it came from. Since then I’ve tried recipes from countless cookbooks, recipes on the backs of chocolate chip packaging, and online recipes, but I could never seem to find my ideal chocolate chip cookie.
I recently realized that my dream chocolate chip cookie was, oddly, the one from my middle school cafeteria. I don’t often reminisce about middle school; those were confusing times—I wore the same outfit every day for a year and was so embarrassed by my sweaty armpits that I would swelter in a sweatshirt all day. But, hey, it could have been worse, and clearly something good (the aforementioned cookies) came out of it. At lunch my friends and I would scrounge together two dollars (a splurge, I know), approach the cafeteria window which we never otherwise interacted with, and order a cookie. It would be handed back to us, grease darkening the wax paper bag it lived in for only a few seconds before we devoured it. I had to try really hard not to take more than my share (anyone who knows me well will be surprised I was able to control myself at all)! The cookie was crisp and buttery on the edges but gooey, almost undercooked, in the middle. Fragrant golden cookie surrounded decadent, melty chunks of chocolate, and it was pure heaven. It would always be gone before we knew it, leaving me wanting three more for myself.
This recipe, adapted from the Bouchon Bakery book, is as close to that middle school cookie as I’ve been able to find. It hits the spot in the exact same ways, but this time I actually can (and might) eat three all myself in one sitting. (Note: they’re basically the same as the Triple Chocolate Cookies, minus the cocoa powder.) As with all chocolate chip cookies, they’re best when the chocolate is still melty.
The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes 10-12 three-and-a-half-inch cookies
238g (1 1/2 cups + 3 tbsp) all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp kosher salt
100g (scant 1/2 cup) brown sugar
90g (1/3 cup) sugar
12g (2 tsp) molasses
167g (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature*
65g eggs, whisked lightly (if you can’t weigh, use 1 large egg, 2 medium eggs, or 1 large egg + 1 yolk)
1 tsp vanilla extract
100g dark chocolate, roughly chopped
100g bittersweet chocolate chips
flaky sea salt, for sprinkling
*The butter really does need to be soft. If it’s not softening fast enough, place the butter in a bowl and set over a medium flame on the stove for 30 seconds. Remove from the heat and stir until the melted butter is incorporated. Repeat as needed until the butter is the consistency of mayonnaise.
Place 238g flour a small bowl and sift in 1/2 tsp baking soda. Add the 1 tsp salt and whisk to combine, then set aside.
In another small bowl, stir the 100g brown sugar and 90g sugar together. Pour in 12g molasses and stir to combine as best you can (there will be some clumping—you just don’t want huge lumps).
Place the soft 1 1/2 sticks of unsalted butter in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Add the sugar mixture. Beat on medium speed until very light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Scrape down the sides and add 65g whisked eggs and 1 tsp vanilla. Mix on medium-low speed until just combined, then scrape down the sides of the bowl and add half of the flour mixture. Mix to combine, then add the rest of the flour and beat just until the flour is almost completely incorporated. Pour in the chocolate chunks and chips and beat for a couple of seconds, until roughly combined.
Cover the bowl of dough and refrigerate while you turn on the oven. (These cookies actually taste best when they’ve rested for 30 minutes in the fridge, then formed into balls using a large ice cream scoop. You can also freeze the rest of the dough balls, then bake a few the next day and they’ll be just as tasty.)
Preheat the oven to 325°F.
Using a large, 2-inch ice cream scoop* (mine has a scant 1/4 cup capacity), portion the dough into balls. If you’re baking immediately, space the dough balls a couple of inches apart on a lined baking sheet or two. If you’re baking later, portion the dough into balls on a lined baking tray (they can be close together), freeze the balls on the tray for about an hour, then place them in a plastic bag and keep in the freezer until ready to bake.
*If you use a smaller scoop, you will have to adjust the bake time to achieve the same gooey texture. But you can simply use a 1/4 cup measuring cup to scoop the dough, then form into balls with your hands.
Bake the cookies for 14-16 minutes, or 16-18 minutes from frozen. Rotate the baking sheets halfway through if you’re using multiple sheets. When they’re done, the edges of the cookies will be a little firm but the middles will still feel soft. Immediately sprinkle with flaky sea salt. These cookies are actually best enjoyed once they’ve fully cooled, about an hour—for the ultimate experience leave them in the sun for 20 minutes or so for the chocolate to melt. Enjoy!