The Twitter Chocolate Chip Cookie Smackdown 09

by arnold on October 13, 2009

I went on a baking spree last weekend because two of my favorite bloggers, Alice of Savory Sweet Life and Ashley of Not Without Salt, started talking smack on Twitter about who had the best chocolate chip cookies. Since they both live in Seattle, there was no way I was going to be able to try their cookies and make up my own mind unless I made them myself.

Cookies!

Lorna Yee from The Cookbook Chronicles also threw her hat into the ring, but she hasn’t posted her recipe yet, so I haven’t had the chance to make them. But Lorna did show off her cookies last week, as well as provide a thorough breakdown of Alice and Ashley’s recipes. Inspired by Lorna’s analysis, I decided to compare their recipes to my favorite recipe, Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc Chocolate Chip Cookies (courtesy of Food Gal Carolyn Jung), and the Original Nestle Toll House recipe.

Thomas Keller's Ad Hoc at Home Chocolate Chip CookiesMy attempt at Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc Chocolate Chip Cookies

With a few exceptions, the ingredients and techniques are basically the same, so it’s interesting to see how the proportions vary from cookie to cookie.

ingredient
Ashley
Thomas Keller
Alice
Toll House
butter
8 oz., softened
8 oz., unsalted,
cold, cubed
8 oz., salted,
softened
8 oz., softened
sugar
2 oz.
(1/4 cup)
3/4 cup
1/2 cup
3/4 cup
turbinado sugar
2 oz.
(1/4 cup)
brown sugar
12 oz.
(1 3/4 cup)
1 cup, packed
(molasses preferred)
1 1/2 cup
3/4 cup, packed
eggs
2
2
2
2
vanilla extract
1/4 oz.
(2 tsp.)
2 tsp.
1 tsp.
all-purpose flour
3 1/2 cups
(1 lb.)
2 1/3 cups
plus 1 Tbsp
3 cups
(12 oz.)
2 1/4 cups
baking soda
1 1/2 tsp.
3/4 tsp.
1 1/2 tsp.
1 tsp.
baking powder
1 tsp.
salt
3/4 tsp.
1 tsp. kosher
1 tsp. sea salt,
small/medium coarse grind
1 tsp.
chocolate
16 oz. chopped
10 oz. chopped
16 oz. chips
12 oz. chips

Ashley’s cookies could easily be called “pound cookies” since they contain a pound of flour, a pound of sugar and a pound of chocolate. They’re crispy on the bottom and dense and chewy in the middle and reminded me of the Ad Hoc cookies. Her use of chopped chocolate instead of chips allows the chocolate to pool inside the cookie so that you get huge bursts of chocolate in every bite. As Ashley says in her “last chocolate chip cookie” post, the dough is really only there “to hold the chunks of chocolate in place.” The addition of turbinado sugar gives the cookies a nice crunch and texture, as well. I didn’t have 16 oz. of chocolate to make the cookies since I had sort of eaten away at the Scharffen Berger stash I got at BlogHer Food 09, but 12 oz. was still plenty of chocolate.

Not Without Salt's Chocolate Chip CookiesAshley’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

I was a little worried when I made Alice’s cookie because the dough was much lighter and airier than Ashley’s, and it showed in the final product. I couldn’t find my usual Guittard chips at Whole Foods, but Ghirardelli’s semi-sweet chocolate chips were a nice substitute. The cookies came out thin and fluffy with crispy bottoms and reminded me of the classic Toll House recipe. When paired with milk from Straus Dairy, possibly the best-tasting milk I’ve ever had, I was transported straight back to elementary school.

Savory Sweet Life's Chocolate Chip CookiesAlice’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

I know you’re probably wondering which cookie I liked better, and my extremely political answer is this: I think Ashley’s cookie is a grown-up, sophisticated cookie, while Alice’s is capable of illiciting an Anton-Ego-in-Ratatouille kind of revelation, so it really depends on what you really want out of your cookie. I’m eagerly awaiting Lorna’s entry into this smackdown, but after this experiment, I may be off cookies for a while. :)

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{ 17 comments… read them below or add one }

Carolyn Jung October 13, 2009 at 12:15 pm

Now that’s what I call a contest. If you get to nibble on them all, that’s a prize in itself. Glad you liked the Ad Hoc chocolate chip cookie recipe. It really is pretty dang good. ;)

Reply

Ashley October 13, 2009 at 8:34 pm

I absolutely love the chart. It’s great to see how much they vary – and yet they’re all just so darn tasty.

Reply

Julie October 13, 2009 at 8:36 pm

If you ever need a second opinion, you know, I’m your girl.

Reply

Fuji Mama October 13, 2009 at 8:37 pm

I LOVE this post! The comparison of all the ingredients is really interesting. If you ever want to throw another recipe into the mix, here’s my favorite: http://www.lafujimama.com/2008/09/firehouse-chocolate-chip-cookies.html

Reply

Alice October 13, 2009 at 8:48 pm

I love this write up!!! Thanks for all your hard cookie testing!

Reply

Erica October 14, 2009 at 6:40 am

I usually do Tollhouse, only I substitute 4 oz of shortening for 4 oz of the butter and add some flour (makes it less thin/lacy), and also I like to throw in at least half a bag of Heath bar toffee bits in addition to the chocolate.

Reply

Susannah October 14, 2009 at 1:32 pm

Wow. I am really loving the scientific breakdown. If only I had been there to sample the cookies myself. ;-)

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Paul October 14, 2009 at 2:15 pm

Nice post! For a few years now my wife has been making Martha Stewart’s Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookie and I have to say they are by far my favorite because they are thin and crispy with a delicious buttery taste. Here’s the recipe: http://bit.ly/1cFywV

Of course now my wife constantly gets requests for the cookies during the holidays…lol.

Reply

Arnold October 14, 2009 at 9:36 pm

Ashley and Alice: It was a pleasure to make such amazing cookies. Thanks for inspiring this post! :)

Carolyn: Thanks for writing about the Ad Hoc cookies or I wouldn’t have cared as much. :)

Erica: That reminds me, I need to use lard next time. :P

Julie: If you can fend of my wife as tester… haha!

Fuji Mama and Susannah: Isn’t it cool how all these different proportions and styles can produce delicious cookies?

Paul: It’s hard to go wrong with Martha. :)

Reply

Hana October 15, 2009 at 11:14 pm

Suddenly, I have a craving for chocolate chip cookies. The question is, which one?

Reply

christine October 19, 2009 at 9:58 pm

I always make Alton Brown’s chewy recipe. I love the comparison chart. Ashley’s cookies look great, I really like a thick soft cookie. I’ll have to give her recipe a try.

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Susannah October 22, 2009 at 11:54 am

I hope Steph has seen it; she would absolutely love the scientific breakdown!

Reply

Leela@SheSimmers October 31, 2009 at 2:15 pm

Dropping by the let you know that last week I got crazy enough to try ALL of the recipes above. I liked Alice’s the best, though I thought all of them were excellent. It was fun!

Reply

Arnold October 31, 2009 at 11:13 pm

Leela: that is awesome. Hope you’re not sick of cookies yet! :)

Reply

The Healthy Apple November 3, 2009 at 12:45 pm

Now you’ve got me wanting a chocolate chip cookie, hehe..great post and very informative about the different types of cookies and recipes; thank you for this info. I’m looking forward to meeting you at the Foodbuzz Festival in San Fran on Friday!

Reply

Mathea November 20, 2009 at 10:35 am

I have never seen the chocolate chip cookie analyzed this way, and I had a little light-bulb-over-the-head moment in realizing this could be a very useful tool for me to improve my sad baking skills.

I’m a prolific cook, but baking is inexplicable a hit-or-miss (mostly “miss”) affair for me. Probably because I tend to deviate too much from the recipes: that’s where your helpful chart will come in handy!

Thanks for doing the work for me! :)

Reply

Arnold November 22, 2009 at 12:28 pm

@Mathea I don’t consider myself a baker, but when recipes are broken down like his it helps me a lot. Glad you find it useful. :)

Reply

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