Monday, June 27, 2011

The Chocolate Chip Cookie Winner


Whew! This Chocolate Chip Cookie Quest has definitely been a journey. I was basically baking two different recipes a day for an entire week. Needless to say, I am CCC'ed out (well, almost). Still, it was an eye opening experience and I've learned a lot about what makes a good chocolate chip cookie.

I've even made a table so you can see how each recipe compared to the others in terms of ingredients and the amounts used. It's included at the bottom of this post.

Okay, so this is what I learned. First of all, it's not necessary to go out and buy a high quality chocolate bar. I've made nearly all of these with my regular store-brand semisweet chocolate chips and I can tell you right now that the cookies tasted perfectly fine with them. Secondly, chilling the cookie dough is probably the very best thing you can do. It gives the brown sugar a chance to really meld with the dough and the flavors will deepen exponentially. Third, become friends with browned butter because it is awesome!

And now, the moment you've all been waiting for (drumroll please . . . ). The winner of the Great Chocolate Chip Cookie Quest of 2011 is . . .



AND



What can I say? I just couldn't decide between the two and neither could my family. Both of them were thick and chewy with crispy edges and chock full of rich butterscotchy flavor. Just one bite and you're in absolute chocolate chip cookie bliss.

2. America's Test Kitchen Chocolate Chip Cookies



With the depth from the browned butter, these cookies were a close second. Plus, they didn't require any chilling time, which means instant eating gratification.

3. Ultimate Stand Mixer Chocolate Chip Cookies


While these cookies didn't have the powerful caramel punch of the winners, they were still everything that a chocolate chip cookie should be in my book. They were thick, chewy, and tasted as though they came from a bakery. Just one isn't enough. Trust me, you'll be reaching for another, or a third.

I can't believe it. I started a quest to find ONE best chocolate chip cookie recipe and I ended up with FOUR excellent keepers. They are all winners in my book. Basically, it all comes down to one thing - how long are you willing to wait for your cookies?

If you can wait 48 hours, then by all means go for the King Arthur Flour Chocolate Chip Cookies.

If two days sounds like too long, then hopefully you can hold out for one day and make Joanne Chang's Chocolate Chip Cookies.

If you're the type that will literally have cookies on your mind until you eat them, then try the Ultimate Stand Mixer Chocolate Chip Cookies. They'll work their magic while you sleep.

Finally, if you're the type that finds it hard to even resist the cookie dough while it's still in the bowl, then America's Test Kitchen Chocolate Chip Cookies are for you. Just mix 'em up and bake 'em up and you'll have a delicious cookie in your mouth before you know it.

I just want to say a BIG thank you to all of you for following me on my CCC journey. I've enjoyed reading all of your comments and hearing your recommendations for other CCC recipes. You're all just the sweetest.

I'm definitely considering doing another quest in the future. I've thought about going for the best brownie but I'm open to other ideas.

So, what type of quest would YOU be interested in?

Baked CCCs

Ultimate Chewy

Auntie Pearl’s

“Best” CCC

Thick Chewy CCC

King Arthur Flour

2 ¼ c. flour

3 c. + 2 Tbsp. flour

2 c. flour

3 c. flour

2 ½ c. flour

2 c. flour

1 tsp. salt

½ tsp. salt

½ tsp. salt

½ tsp. salt

1 tsp. salt

½ tsp. salt

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. baking soda

½ tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. baking soda

1 c. unsalted butter

1 c. unsalted butter

10 ½ Tbsp. butter

1 c. unsalted butter

1 c. unsalted butter

1 c. unsalted butter

1 c. brown sugar

1 c. brown sugar

2/3 c. brown sugar

1 c. brown sugar

1 ½ c. brown sugar

2/3 c. brown sugar

½ c. white sugar

½ c. white sugar

½ c. white sugar

1 c. white sugar

NO white sugar

2/3 c. white sugar

2 tsp. vanilla

1 ½ tsp. vanilla

2 tsp. vanilla

2 tsp. vanilla

1 tsp. vanilla

2 tsp. vanilla

2 eggs

2 eggs

1 egg

2 eggs

2 eggs

1 egg

2 c. choc. chips

2 c. choc. chips

1 ½ c. choc. chips

2 c. choc. chips

2 c. chocolate chips

2 c. choc. chips




2 tsp. hot water


1 tsp. vinegar












48 hour chill time

David Lebovitz

Olive Oil CCCs

ATK CCCs

Sugar Plum

Joanne Chang

New York Times

2 2/3 c. flour

2 ¼ c. flour

1 ¾ c. flour

2 ¼ c. flour

1 ¼ c. flour + 1 c. bread flour

1 ¾ c. + 2 Tbsp. cake flour + 1 2/3 c. bread flour

1 tsp. flaky sea salt

1 ½ tsp. salt

1 tsp. salt

¾ tsp. flaky sea salt

½ tsp. salt

1 ½ tsp. coarse salt

1 tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. baking soda

½ tsp. baking soda

¾ tsp. baking soda

1 tsp. baking soda

1 ¼ tsp. baking soda

1 c. salted butter

¼ c. EVOO*

4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted + 10 Tbsp. browned butter

4 Tbsp. unsalted butter, chilled + 8 Tbsp. browned butter

1 c. unsalted butter

1 ¼ c. unsalted butter

1 1/3 c. brown sugar

¾ c. brown sugar

¾ c. brown sugar

1 c. brown sugar

¾ c. brown sugar

1 ¼ c. brown sugar

1 c. sugar

¾ c. sugar

½ c. sugar

½ c. sugar

¾ c. sugar

1 c. + 2 Tbsp. sugar

1 tsp. vanilla

1 tsp. vanilla

2 tsp. vanilla

2 tsp. vanilla

1 ½ tsp. vanilla

2 tsp. vanilla

2 eggs

2 eggs

1 egg + 1 egg yolk

1 egg

2 eggs

2 eggs

2 2/3 c. choc. chips

1 c. choc. chips

1 ¼ c. choc. chips

1 ½ c. choc. chips

1 ½ c. semisweet choc.

1 ¼ lb. chocolate discs


1-2 Tbsp. milk


1 tsp. active dry yeast

½ c. milk chocolate, finely chopped

1 ½ tsp. baking powder











24 hour chill time

24-48 hour chill

Ultimate Stand Mixer CCC



2 ½ c. flour



½ tsp. salt



1 ¼ tsp. baking soda



1 c. unsalted butter, cold



1 c. brown sugar



¾ c. white sugar



1 ½ tsp. vanilla



2 eggs



3 c. chocolate chips






6 hour chill time



NOTES:

1) The first table contains variations of the basic chocolate chip cookie recipe. The second table contains recipes that use a lot of ingredients and methods that you don’t normally see every day.

2) EVOO = extra virgin olive oil

3) “Flour” always means all-purpose flour unless otherwise specified. “Butter” is always room-temperature/softened butter unless otherwise specified.

4) Any ingredients that would be considered “out of the ordinary,” or vastly different from those used in other recipes, are written in RED.

5) These charts are purely for comparison purposes so you can see how each recipe differed from the other. The complete recipes can be found in my blog posts for each one.



This is linked to:
A Little Birdie Told Me
These Chicks Cooked
Made it on Monday
Sweet Tooth Friday

47 comments:

  1. WOW, what a thorough comparison! Great post, Lisa...and I think my family wants to test them ALL! Thank you!

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  2. I'm from Boston and I am always, always, always dazzled by Chang's goodies at her Flour bakery. Santa gave me her cookbook for Christmas, and it really is amazing how her recipes are so spot on.

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  3. I love the tables for comparison, very interesting. I can't wait to try a few of these and compare for myself!

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  4. So I decided to go with the KAF cookies just because I love their recipes :) The time and effort you put into this is unbelievable and greatly appreciated...especially the chart at the bottom to compare; thank you!

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  5. Congrats on a choosing a winner. I'm sure this was a difficult process and all ;) I've really enjoyed following!
    Aimee

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  6. Hats off to you! You have really done a lot of work and baked a lot of CCC's to look for the best recipe and I thank you! I always just make whatever recipe that is on the bag and all though they turn out fine, I am never quite pleased. Next time I bake CCC's I will definately try one of your #1 recipes!

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  7. Looks like I'd better try Joanne's cookie soon. It's been a fun experiment to read about!

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  8. I couldn't wait to see your winner and it is the one I bookmarked! I loves this journey you've done!

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  9. WOW, Lisa! I so love the testing process you put into this ... I'm very much a tester, too. I'll be using some of your recipes to run my own tests soon. Thanks for doing so much of the work for me!! I would absolutely LOVE it if you did a brownie quest ... I've had such a hard time finding a brownie recipe that I'm completely happy with. Love your blog.
    Tracey @ Kitchen Playground

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  10. Oh my gosh! Table = most impressive! :) I've enjoyed following your quest! Your reviews and details about each recipe have been so helpful.

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  11. I love the table, so interesting to compare all the quantities of ingredients in each cookie. The top two sound amazing. I can't wait to give them a try.

    Ellen

    http://everydaysisters.blogspot.com

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  12. What a tough job! Not! Wish I was your neighbor! My family loves chocolate chip cookies and I will be trying the winners!

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  13. WOW!!!! I am so bookmarking this post! Thanks for all your research. I am curious if you just saw the NY times CCC debate....google it and see the winner on that one. Chilling the dough was huge with them too. I am so , but it might be a good thing to impatientchill the dough because I'm always trying to watch what I eat so if I had to wait I might realize I only need 2 cookies instead of 10. ;)

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  14. Opps, I see you actually wrote about the NY times cookie....didn't make it to the top on your test. I can't wait to try your top cookies (they are easier than the NY times one!)

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  15. I love CCCs and thought I'd found the best recipe for me, but now I feel compelled to try out both of your winning recipes. They look and sound SOOO good!

    I don't know if you're a cheesecake fan, but I always thought that would be an interesting comparison to do. Brownies would be good, though, too - since I usually resort to a box mix!

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  16. Thank you so much for doing all the work for us to find the best CCC! (well, eating CCCs isn't really work, now is it?) I will definitely take your recommendations to chill my dough and brown my butter. Awesome project! I have enjoyed every single post, and I will certainly try the winning cookie!

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  17. Oh goody. I'm trying the King Arthur. I love those America's test kitchen cookies too, but to me they're in a different category than traditional chocolate chip. I'd call them caramel chocolate chip cookies because they have so much caramel-y flavor. However, when I want a standard chocolate chip cookie, they're not always what I'm looking for. And I don't have a stand mixer, so that's out, but the King Arthur sounds so awesome and my sister is coming this weekend so it's perfect.

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  18. Wow, this is quite the post! So much information, I love it! I will have to try one of the winners soon. I would of never thought to chill the dough, but it makes a lot of sense to do it :) Thanks for taking on such an awesome challenge. I really enjoyed reading it :)

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  19. Love this. I have really wanted to do a cc cookie comparison myself. Thanks for the chart!

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  20. Definitely a labor of love. :) Awesome work on the chart to compare them all.

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  21. Wow! you've tested more CCC recipes then I have! I went through a whole CCC experimenting phase but its an on going thing; I still want to test more! I think you might enjoy reading my post about it because I compared the different recipes by the ratio of butter to flour and found a couple things I now do with all my cookies (like using kosher salt and imitation vanilla!)
    http://notthenormalteenagefare.blogspot.com/2011/04/great-chocolate-chip-cookie-experiment.html

    Since that post, I have found my new favorite (so far). They come out beautiful each time and are thick and super tasty. Here's the recipe!
    http://www.injennieskitchen.com/2010/03/chocolate-chip-cookies.html
    I also like how they have less butter than usual (:
    happy baking!

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  22. Oh my! I like this kind of test! It is so interesting to look at your charts and compare!

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  23. Too funny, I was going to make Flour's choco chip cookies this morning but went with America's Test Kitchen one instead (which I adore). Can't wait to try the winner!

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  24. I ditto what everyone has said thus far!!!! Great job and trouble you went to, to be able to find your favorite CCC!!! Thanks for making it easier for the rest of us. I was thinking maybe at Christmas, a sugar cookie test. Really, which recipe it the best???? Thanks again!

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  25. You can't have too many good chocolate chip cookie recipes! I'm going to try your winners for sure! :)

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  26. Yay! Glad you've found some winners. They both look like awesome CCC's!

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  27. Thanks for doing all the research! I'm going to benefit from your findings:)

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  28. You made 13 different cookies? Wow! I'm impressed and surprised that you like Joanne Chang's the best. They look different from mine - mine didn't spread as much. I would love to see a brownie one! Thanks for adding them to my round-up - this is a good reference.

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  29. Whew! Thanks for being the guinea pig and testing out all of those cookies! I have never made cookies with browned butter. I think I will have to be trying one of these recipes very soon :)

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  30. 3 CHEERS for you, Lisa!!! I love love love CCC. Thanks for tabulating all these recipes! I will bookmark for my future CCC baking!

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  31. Just wanted to say that I love this post! Definitely going to give the KAF cookies a chance soon. Saving this one, for sure!

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  32. You've finally found your favorite or favorites is more like it. What an amazing journey through CCC land! Thank you for doing all the hard work.

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  33. Thank you for such a detail report! :) I just saw another food blog baked up Chang's CCC! Now, that's crowned the winner, I really can't wait to make a batch of my own! Thank you so much for sharing and testing out the CCC recipes for us. Your Rock, Lisa!

    Amy

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  34. WOW! How impressive! Thanks for all the work you put into this and most of all for sharing!!

    I look forward to giving a few of these a try :)

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  35. This quest was so much fun to follow along with!

    Amy @ A Little Nosh

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  36. You are so awesome that you not only tested all these recipes for your fans, commented on them but spread sheeted them as well! You amaze me and I can't wait to try the two winners Lisa! :)

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  37. Thank you for the comparison chart! Other than David Lebowitz, the rest don't have enough salt in my 'not so humble' opinion!

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  38. Now that is a chart! Wow, way to research this for the rest of us!
    Thanks for linking it to "Made it on Monday"

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  39. Whoa... I gotta admire the sheer number of recipes you tried! And then cheer for the 2 New England winners. I don't know if I'll ever be able to wait 48 hours to bake up cookie dough, though.

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  40. This is an awesome post!!! I love how you 'took apart" each of these recipes and presented them in a grid. What a great experiment.

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  41. Thanks for linking up your recipe at Cast Party Wednesday. I hope you come back tomorrow and share some more of your awesome recipes!
    Thanks,
    I hope to see you there!

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  42. I am baking for a group, presently, and I have made 3 different chocolate chip cookies. One is Pillsbury, one is from My Recipes (I have to check where they got it, if anywhere and the third, I don't remember.)

    I was excited about the one from My Recipes because it had only brown sugar and in my opinion, it is the brown sugar that makes the difference.

    I hope you enjoyed this. You worked hard on it and I learned a lot from your results. Thanks, Lisa.

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  43. Today I told myself I was starting my diet and in turn I had this crazy desire to make your ATK cookies! Funny how I always seem to do things like that! They were great! I LOVE the browned butter! Oh my talk about a caramel flavor! thanks for all the hard work. If I do a post I'll be sure and link back to you!

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  44. Lisa, Wow! You've done a great service to chocolate chip cookie fans all over the world. You're a 1-woman America's Test Kitchen! Awesome!! My girls and I will definitely be giving some of your top picks a try! I'm sharing a link on my Facebook page too.

    Thank you so much for linking up to last week's "A Little Birdie Told Me...". My apologies for the belated vist -- with July 4 falling on a Monday, it threw my whole schedule off, and I'm just now making the rounds to visit the party-goers from that week. Best, Jenn

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  45. I just made a batch of these "winning" cookies for my son's school party tomorrow. Of course, I have to do some "quality control" here. I have to tell you, these are sooooo good! I have to refrain myself from eating more otherwise they'll be gone before tomorrow's party! LOL....thank you so much for your CCC project! :)

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  46. We bloggers all eventually go on this quest. I pretty much ended up with almost a 3-way tie with the Levain Bakery chocolate chip cookie clone taking first place. It uses a combo of all-purpose flour and cake flour plus a bit of cornstarch. I've had Joanne Chang's recipe sitting in a pile for too long. You've inspired me to make a batch, and I thought it was going to be a long time before I would try another CCC recipe! It sounds like you're not quite "CCC'd out"--you should give the Levain CCC a try. It's beyond awesome! http://www.fransfavs.com/2012/07/levain-bakery-chocolate-chip-walnut-cookie-clone/

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