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The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie – NOT!

This past week the May/June edition of Cook’s Illustrated arrived in my mailbox. I was on my way to work and in a hurry when I checked the mail, but never, not matter what, in too much of a hurry to check the index. Imagine my surprise to see “The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie” listed there. When Cook’s Illustrated claims to have the perfect recipe for anything I pay attention, but the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe? I am not going to lie – it kind of ticked me off. I already found the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe (see my previous entry for Strobel Cookies). It took me 31 years of searching, testing, and tweaking, but darn it, I found it. And because I was on my way to work when I discovered the recipe, I had to wait a full two days to try it. It was a long two days. I read the recipe over many times because theirs was a totally novel approach to the chocolate chip cookie. It calls for browning the butter (and I LOVE brown butter), an extra egg yolk, and three episodes of whisking, each followed by three minutes of resting. (Well, this is Cook’s Illustrated after all.)

So Saturday afternoon I gathered all ingredients and followed the recipe EXACTLY as written, right down to using a scale to measure everything. I even used the Ghirardelli really really dark 60% cacao bittersweet chocolate chips as they recommend. The family gathered around the kitchen for the 14 minutes of baking. I passed time by wiping down the counter three times. Scott tried to sneak some of the dough. I got out a cooling rack as they recommended, even though my extensive testing shows that cooling racks are not only unnecessary, but actually detrimental to the finished product. Finally the timer rang and the cookies came to rest on the cooling rack. Sarah got out the milk. Rebekah got out the napkins. Then I read the final sentence of the directions: cool cookies completely before serving. WHAT?? Cold chocolate chip cookies? Seriously? When one makes the claim to a perfect chocolate chip cookie, warmness is implicit in the statement. But if Cook’s Illustrated wants to claim their cookie as perfect, then we are playing by their rules. Cold cookies it is.

And guess what? Cook’s Illustrated perfect chocolate chip cookies are not. At best we give them a C+. The bottom was too brown, the dough too sweet, and the texture was too bendable, not crisp on the outside and chewy/soft on the inside. Whew. What a relief.

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