I Finally Invented Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies
Sarah and I met nearly eight years ago while walking in our neighborhood when my daughter was 3 weeks old and hers was 6 months old. We began hanging out with our babies and talking about absolutely everything parenting- and not parenting-related. Two years later, we had second children, boys, and often had playdates with the four kids and potlucks at one of our houses, did meal planning, and swapped favorite recipes.
Somehow we got it into our heads that we were going to make the perfect chocolate chip cookie. The perfect cookie is, of course, a highly subjective categorization. Still, we discovered that, along with so many things in common, we liked the same kind of cookie: bakery-style soft and squishy, cake-like cookies with caramelized bottoms and not too much spread or crunch. We liked a mix of milk and semisweet chips. We liked to eat them warm.
We had never previously found perfection out in the world or achieved it in our kitchens. Sarah’s husband graciously offered to help judge our efforts, and we began making every chocolate chip cookie recipe on the internet or in any of our many cookbooks. Perfection alluded us. We started experimenting with our own recipes, changing ingredients and amounts of ingredients with each try. We did all brown sugar, then all white, then a combo. We used some wheat flour, some white, some all or none. We added starch. We upped vanilla. They weren’t quite perfect.
When lockdown hit in mid-March 2020, we were a block apart but could not see each other in person. We found the app, Marco Polo, and left each other long, rambling messages about our days at home with kids, grocery supply woes, and whether or not we were staying sane (we were not).
We also kept up our baking, a common pandemic pastime. So many people wanted to bake that flour was in high demand and supply was low. We ran out and had to stop making cookies. One day Sarah found two bags of flour at the store and left one for me on her porch. I waved through her window and walked home with my precious cargo. I passed a woman walking her dog, who saw my bundle and said, “You’re so lucky!” I was.
We made countless batches, adjusting oven temperature, flour-scoop technique, and butter solidity. While our kids gobbled them up without complaint, Sarah’s husband was not so easily pacified (or he just wanted more cookies). After many alterations, finally, one day, we did it. We made the perfect chocolate chip cookie — for us, at least. We saw no need to change a thing.
Sarah graciously agreed to let me share it here. Enjoy. If you don’t like them our way, fine. Do your own clinical trial. While the pandemic was anything but fun, I had many things to be thankful for, including my neighbor, our friendship, and our perfect cookies.
Our Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies
Recipe by Sarah Lyons and Laura Wheatman Hill
- 8 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
- 3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
- 1/8 cup white sugar
- 1 egg
- 1 tbsp. pure vanilla extract
- 2 tsp. cornstarch
- 1/2 tsp. baking soda
- 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 3/4 tsp. sea salt
- 1 3/4 cups white all-purpose flour, (Very important: Spooned and leveled, not scooped)
- 1- 1 1/2 cups combination of milk and semisweet chocolate chips, (to preference, but I do more milk than semisweet)
Is your butter the right temperature? I melt mine in the bowl I will make the whole batch in, then put it in the fridge for 10 minutes.
Add the sugars to the butter until combined.
Add the egg and vanilla.
Mix in the cornstarch, soda, powder, and salt before adding flour.
Add in the flour and chocolate chips at the same time (reason: the chips get coated in the flour and will not sink to the bottom of the cookie)
Stir only until combined. This is a fairly dry dough.
Using a food scale, make balls — each weighing 2 oz. Squish them slightly so they sit flat and don’t roll. If you don’t have a food scale, evenly scoop two normal-size cookie scoops and combine them into one big ball.
Place them in a Tupperware with a lid.
Refrigerate cookies in an airtight container for at least 30 minutes. They are also fine overnight. Freeze any you aren’t cooking today.
Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper
Give these cookies plenty of space. I do not do more than six to eight on a sheet.
Bake cookies for 15 minutes, checking after 10 minutes because all ovens have their own personalities.
Let cool on the baking sheet for up to 10 minutes before transferring to a rack.
Eat them warm, maybe with ice cream. Store extras in an airtight container. They are good the next day, especially if you heat them for 10-20 seconds in the microwave.
I make these by hand instead of in the mixer so they are less stirred.