The Girl Who Ate Everything

Blogging about food and whatever since 2004.

Chocolate Chip Cookies: One to Make, One to Buy

Freshly baked cookies! AIEEE! They look sort of flat, but I swear they were good.

Last Saturday I made chocolate chip cookies using the Ad Hoc recipe to bring to Dahlia's birthday party. As I'm not exactly a maven in the kitchen, I generally only bake cookies (or make any sort of dessert) for special occasions, not for the purpose of fulfilling my incessant craving for chocolate chip cookies. When I'm awake, I want cookies. When I'm asleep, I want cookies. When I'm dead my disembodied soul will want cookies. (That gives me an idea for a picture book: Robyn Wants Cookies. Each page would be me in a different situation thinking about cookies. "In the deepest part of the ocean, Robyn wants cookies / In the eye of a tornado, Robyn wants cookies / In a town made of Jell-O, Robyn munches on a cherry-favored lamp post, and still wants cookies.")

Incessant. Yes. Chocolate chip cookies are my favorite dessert. Even more so than macarons. A warm chocolate chip cookie out of the oven, with the gooey chocolate bits, crispiness around the edge, and barely cooked middle, is...everything that is good in the world of cookies. Luckily, they're super easy to make and hard to mess up, if my experience is any indication.

The Ad Hoc recipe gave me just what I wanted. Gooey chocolate chunks, crispy rim, and a soft middle in a nicely sized cookie package. Over the course of the day, I ate maybe...eight of them. Or seven. Mostly at Dahlia's party. When you lose count, that's probably too many. Chichi and Colin were at my apartment while I was baking them, so they helped me eat a few.

I did a few things differently from the recipe. First, I didn't sift the flour and baking soda, nor did I remove the chocolate "dust." Granted, that's because I'm sort of...lazy, but also because Chichi told me I didn't need to sift for such a small batch. And I think she was right; after whisking the flour and baking soda together the baking soda distributed fine, and I didn't miss any leavening that the sifting would've contributed. I attempted to strain out the chocolate dust, but it didn't work so I figured it wouldn't impact deliciousness much, just the cookie's appearance.

What I should've done differently was use softened butter instead of cold butter like the recipe says. The recipe assumes you have a stand mixer. Which I don't. Chichi told me that cold butter may be okay in a stand mixer, but it doesn't really work with a hand mixer with beaters, as I discovered when I had to turn off my mixer and poke hard butter bits out of the beaters every five seconds. Unsmart. I eventually managed to mash the butter into submission and successfully cream it with the sugar, but it probably took longer than it was supposed to.

Speaking of different butter temperatures in chocolate chip cookies, I've also made them using melted butter in this recipe from America's Test Kitchen with good results. I'm sure someone more knowledgeable about baking could explain the different results you get from making cookies with butters at different temperatures. I understand using cold butter chunklets in pastry crusts and biscuits, but that's about it.

Although I used to use this recipe as my default chocolate chip cookie recipe for years, I'm going to stick with the Ad Hoc one from now on.

awesome chocolate chip cookies

But what if I want a cookie without being drugged by the potent scent of 30 cookies cooling in the kitchen? I'd go to Roasting Plant in the West Village. I took Los Angeles food blogger Javier there a few weeks ago after we ate lunch at Taim since we at Serious Eats had voted their chocolate chip cookie the best in the city.

Roasting Plant doesn't make them from scratch—the dough is from wholesale Tom Cat Bakery—but they bake them fresh. (This means you may have to wait a while for cookies if they sold out of their latest batch.) The result is a craggly cookie that has an airy crispiness on the outside, and is soft, gooey, and a little chewy on the well-chocolated inside. And it's a thin cookie, not one of those hock puck-sized things (not that those can't also be good, as I am a fan of Levain's behemoths; they're just unreasonably large for any normal-sized human being). It's like the smashed burger of cookies.


Roasting Plant
75 Greenwich Ave, New York, NY 10014 (map)


Su-Lin / March 6, 2010 4:22 PM

Guh, I haven't baked chocolate chip cookies in ages. Must rectify!!! Thanks for the link to the Ad Hoc recipe. They look gooooooood.

roboppy / March 7, 2010 12:03 AM

Su-Lin: I hope you like em! Let me know how yours turn out.

DC: Got some chocolate bars and chopped em up. :) IZ FUN!

Jannie / March 7, 2010 12:31 AM

Write the book Robyn, write the book!
I'm serious. Write the book and then go down to the Children's Book Council for help and advice on children's book publishing.

egeria / March 7, 2010 3:58 AM

Oh man now I want cookies. Not just any old cookie...I want a homebaked cookie. So I'm going out to buy chocolate chips. Haven't baked in ages. Robyn, you're inspiring :D


Tina / March 7, 2010 9:02 AM

Ooh...I should bake the Ad Hoc CCC's soon! (That's after I get over my ice cream/gelato/sorbet churning phase.)

To answer your question about different stages of butter temps, softened butter is the most desirable for almost all baking mainly because it's easier to beat in air (with your sugar) to make your baked good nice and fluffy/puffy. If you're using melted butter, say for your chocolate chip cookies, the result would be a flatter cookie that will spread out as it bakes.

Both butter temps (for cookies) won't change the flavor necessarily but will change the texture that you're aiming for (puffy and a bit chewy vs. thin and crispy).

Mahar / March 7, 2010 10:52 AM

Chocolate chip cookies are the one monster recipe I've perfected. I've been making them since I was 12 and I can honestly say that I've invested 15 years in mastering that recipe.


I love them with toasted walnuts.

I love them with peanut m&ms.

I love them with peanut butter spread.

Hoo boy.

*off to bake*

Pam / March 7, 2010 2:18 PM

They look delicious and makes me want to start baking. I love the gooey crunchy combo. Thanks!

roboppy / March 7, 2010 6:47 PM

Jannie: I gotta work on my drawing skills! :)


Samuel: Not sure what you mean by "subway kind of cookie"?

Tina: Sounds like you could make ICE CREAM SANDWICHES! :)

Thanks for the butter info! The melted butter cookies didn't seem especially flat compared to the ones I made in this post, but I'd probably have to make em side by side to tell the difference. Mm...two batches of cookies...

Mahar: I LOVE COOKIES WITH M&MS IN EM! Never tried em with the peanut version though. I like that idea...

Pam: I hope you try them!

Jin / March 7, 2010 8:34 PM

Just wanted to say that you and Serious Eats team are awesome, as always, for providing many delicious eats for my just finished trip to New York.

Arirang for chicken kaljebi
Roasting Plant for chocolate chip cookies
Taim for falafels
Motorino for brussel sprout pizza
Mimi's for zomg delicious hummus

I don't know how you do it consistently. I can only do weekend doses of all the deliciousness.

Jasmine / March 7, 2010 11:34 PM

Your cookies look like little disks of awesome. NOW I MUST GO TRY RECIPE!!!!

I adore cookies, and I eat many, but choco chip cookies get a little hard to swallow after a while(maybe like 3?). Like it's too sweet, and you get that gagging, itchy feeling at the back of your throat? I don't know. I just like oatmeal raisins cookies more.

I wished I lived in NY so I can go try Roasting Plant's CCCs.

Edd / March 8, 2010 2:14 PM

Robyn these look so good youve got me craving cookies again, which after this weekend I didnt think possible (was playing around with the momofuku blueberries and cream recipe and came up with a great oatmeal raisin version but it meant I made at least 50 Milk Bar sized cookies!!) but I dont have a turn-to choc chip recipe so think this might be my next test

roboppy / March 8, 2010 3:13 PM

Jin: I'm glad we could help you! That's some good fooding you did there; I give it the giant gold star of approval. :) As for how we do it consistently, I think the rest of my office must work out or something.'t. Yet. I should do something about that. :(

Jasmine: I have no problem eating CRAPTONS OF CC COOKIES! :) I haven't had oatmeal raisin in ages though, and now I want it.

Edd: Holy crap, 50 cookies...I wish I could take some of those off your hands. ;) I can never get tired of cookies!

Sandra / March 8, 2010 3:35 PM

I was just thinking about baking chocolate chip cookies this weekend (usually my go-to recipe is Alton Brown's The Chewy) but I'll definitely have to try the Ad Hoc recipe! All I know about melting butter in cookies is that melted butter = easier to mix = chewy cookie = awesome.

I used to battle cold-to-softened butter with a hand mixer too, where 80% of the mixing time was spent scraping chucks of butter off the beaters. Then I discovered that a potato masher actually works quite well and efficiently in creaming butter & sugar. It won't get as fluffy as creaming with a mixer, but it's worked for me.

reeseboston / March 8, 2010 9:32 PM

I have this go to recipe for choc chip cookies that uses melted butter. But the next step is to refrigerate the dough for 2 days before baking to allow the butter resolidify. Bake at 325, which is a low temp for baking. The cookies came out light, chewy with crispy edges and they were awesome.

Marika / March 9, 2010 3:53 AM

Like you, I also want chocolate chip cookies pretty much all the damn time. Sometimes I think "Maybe I should try baking something else"... but why? Fresh homemade CC cookies are the best.ever. My current go-to recipe is the David Leite one that was in the New York Times, with a few modifications.

paige / March 11, 2010 12:54 AM

ok. i made the ad hoc cookies. i didn't have a chocolate bar, so i used mini chocolate chips. and i added walnuts. they were delicious. i only made a few at a time and refrigerated the dough in between. so we had warm cookies after dinner for several nights. that was really fun. now i'm hooked. i need warm cookies after dinner every night. drat! must make more...

roboppy / March 11, 2010 2:43 AM

Sandra: I hope you like this recipe!

reeseboston: That reminds me, I used to bake cookies in two steps: by making the dough and freezing them into balls one night, then baking em the next day (or as needed). Not because the directions said this but because I wanted to get them prepared ahead of time. :)

Marika: I'll have to look up David's recipe!

paige: I want warm cookies every night too. ...Must make more cookie dough...

cobin / March 11, 2010 9:48 PM

the ATK recipe with melted butter... so amazing. probably my favorite ever. i have done a few small tweaks that i think really puts them over the edge. first, take the time to let the butter cool. a good 30-45 minutes makes a huge difference. also, browning the butter only slightly adds so much flavor.

i use 60-70% bittersweet chocolate; can be chips or chunks.
let the dough rest in the fridge overnight. 24 hours is even better. i was shocked the first time i tried this how much more complex the cookies tasted.

finally, add just the tiniest amount of sea salt the second they come of the oven. the crunch contrasts perfectly with the melted gooeyness of the chocolate. and again, kicks the flavor up.

finally, i really love to bake them on a silpat. but have found decent results on parchment too.

Christina / March 15, 2010 9:25 AM

Chocolate chip cookies are simply the best. Nothing beats the caramely, chewy dough with chocolate. I want to make mini cookies and eat them as cereal. Those cookies look great!

And I would buy that book.

roboppy / March 19, 2010 2:37 AM

Cobin: Sea salt, good idea! I should do that next time. And I don't have a silpat, but I'll put that on my "to buy" list. I think my mom has one and she rarely even

Christina: I gotta work on that book!

elaine / March 20, 2010 11:17 PM

This is way too delish. I dream about chocolate chip cookies all the time, and think about when and where will I eat the next cookie.

Have you tried to make brownies before? Easy and just as awesome. It's my other sweet obsession - crinkly shiny tops and gooey chewy chocolate heaven inside. I just ate a couple while writing this.

Liz / March 23, 2010 6:55 PM

My tip for softening cold butter is to stand the stick of butter on its end in the microwave and zap for 10 seconds. You can leave it in its wrapper if it's wax and not foil. This usually creates the perfect softened texture in very little time. Oh boy, do I want some cookies now.

roboppy / March 24, 2010 1:27 AM

Elaine: I haven't made brownies in ages, but I dooo like em. My roommate makes really awesome ones though, and I have no problem waiting for her to go into brownie-making mode..hehe.

Liz: That's one of my favorite uses for a microwave!...alas, I don't have one in my apartment because I'd rarely need it. :)

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