You know that episode of Friends when Monica tries to figure out Phoebe’s secret family recipe for Chocolate Chip Cookies? This was me for the last 3 years. Every time I made cookies, I tweaked and changed my recipe, EVERY. SINGLE. TIME. Some recipes were almost there, some were terrible, never to be spoken of again. I forced everyone to try the new recipes, and even when they all told me the cookies were great, they weren’t perfect. I was on a mission to create the perfect cookie and I wouldn’t give up until I had achieved excellence. (People tell me I can be a bit of an obsessive perfectionist; I don’t see it.)
My ideal cookie was one with slightly crisp edges, a gooey chewy center, and one that stayed soft even when eaten cooled. I wanted it to be full of buttery goodness, loads of chocolate, and well-rounded flavor. My journey to create the perfect cookie began long before I became a Chef, but only when I finished culinary school did it really become an obsession.
While on quarantine, I had been creating all sorts of fun new recipes but hadn’t experimented with my cookie dough. I was craving the little brown morsels and decided to make a batch (at midnight). I took my most updated recipe and looked it over. I decided to brown the butter. I make a browned butter snickerdoodle at the Pub, and people go NUTS for it. Why the thought never occurred to me to do the same with my chocolate chip dough is a mystery. I adjusted my baking soda, flour, and sugar measurements, and decided to forego the yogurt I had been adding for the bite. I normally make smaller cookies, about the size of an Oreo, but this time I decided to try large cookies.
Browning the butter, the three types of sugar, and almond extract are what make the flavor different from other cookie recipes. I tasted the dough: OMG! Damn that’s good! The real deciding factor, though, is the texture of the finished product. The addition of the cream of tartar and cornstarch helped to create the consistency I was looking for. Chilling the dough is a MUST. Will the cookies still taste delicious without chilling the dough? Absolutely. Will they have the perfect soft, chewy, texture? No. I cannot stress enough how important it is to chill your dough before baking.
I waited (impatiently) for my dough to be ready, aimlessly scrolling Facebook, half watching Netflix, and obsessively checking the clock. Finally, the dough was significantly chilled, and I ran to the kitchen to get the cookies scooped out and into the oven. 10 minutes later, I was in a state of cookie bliss. I did it!!! I had achieved the perfect cookie!!! The culmination of 3 years of searching had finally paid off!!
Unlike Monica, the recipe had not been on the back of the chocolate chip bag the entire time, and my work had not been in vain. Being that it was now 3 am, I had no one to delight in my accomplishment with me. I’d have to wait until the people of the house had woken up. I’d force them to have cookies with their coffee for breakfast. I had better stop eating though, or there’d be nothing left for me to regale them with in the morning. I hid the cookies (no one would be enjoying them without me) and headed off to bed. I slept the sweet blissful sleep of a woman accomplished.