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The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie

  Chocolate chip cookies play an integral part in my baking life, they always have.

  Check it, they starred in one of my earliest food photos.

  As one of the first doughs to christen my young hands, these cookies will always hold a special place in my heart.  They are something I can fall back on, rely on, change up, and possibly live on...

  Clearly, such a near and dear cookie cannot come from a mix.  It cannot come frozen from a can.  It cannot come from Subway.  It cannot come from McDonald's (really?).  It cannot come from your grocery store.  It just can't.

  You might get some semblance of it, but you will never know the real thing until you mix it up (from scratch), eat half the dough, bake what's left, and eat an oozing, warm cookie dunked in cold milk.  Okay? Okay.

  Maggie Gyllenhaal totally backs me up on this.

  Lots of my baking time has been spent with cookie recipes, trying to find "the one."  So far, this is it.  These cookies are not your average Wakefield's recipe.  Which, incidentally, was the one I grew up with.  It's so much more.

  The butter is melted rather than softened, there's more brown sugar than white, just enough flour, and you do use a whole egg, but with an extra yolk.  I can't specifically name all the differences, but I can say that the results are distinct.  I've played around with refrigeration and mixing techniques, always searching for the thickest and chewiest results.  This is it.  The simplest method you can find, but really...it's the best.

  I've made this a thousand times, and the recipe below is my adaptation for (what I like to think of as) the perfect cookie.  I know that's a ballsy thing to say, but there's just no other way to put it.

  And let's not forget one important detail, the fleur de sel.

  If you haven't already heard about the new phenomenon of putting sea salt on top of cookies, you're about to.  Oh my gosh, just do it.  I did this on a whim last week, and it made this recipe.

  A few strange people in the world complain about the blandness of chocolate chip cookies.  They obviously have never sprinkled salt on top.  It bakes in just slighlty, leaving a crunchy little kick that makes the sweet and salty contrast go and throw a party in your mouth.  Really.

  Let me finish my lecture with just a few more reasons to make these:

  1. You can use up those nifty caramel bits you bought forever ago, and throw in just about anything else you like.

Photo credit: my friend Lydia

  2. They travel well.  Going to the beach just got more awesome.

  3. It's a really good recipe to make with friends who have never made cookies.  I've done it many times, and the best part is seeing the sense of accomplishment and pride in the faces of those who have only known those discs from a carton.  It's so worth it.

  4.  The dough balls are freez-able, just increase the baking time and keep on eye them when baking from the freezer.

  5. Everyone will love you.

The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie
Yield: about 2 dozen


  • 2 cups plus 2 tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 12 tbsp. (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled until warm
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar, packed**
  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
  • 2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • Fleur de sel (or a coarse sea salt) for sprinkling on top of cookies

Adjust oven racks to upper and lower-middle positions. Preheat oven 325°. Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper. 

Whisk dry ingredients together in a medium bowl; set aside. With electric mixer, or by hand, mix butter and sugars until thoroughly combined. Beat in egg, yolk, and vanilla until combined. Add dry ingredients and beat at low-speed until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips. 

Roll a very scant half-cup of dough into a ball.  Tear the ball in half and place on the baking sheet with the jagged, torn-apart sides facing up (this will give you the beautiful, rustic top), leaving ample room between each ball.  Sprinkle with fleur de sel.  Bake, reversing position of cookie sheets halfway through baking, until cookies are light golden brown and outer edges just start to harden, yet centers are still soft and puffy (the centers will look somewhat underbaked, no worries).  Approximately 11-14 minutes. Do not overbake.

Remove from oven and cool cookies on sheets until able to lift without breaking. Transfer to a wire rack to cool.

**Make double sure that your brown sugar isn't old.  It doesn't go bad, but it can get really dry and your cookie dough will not be moist, or hold together.  If it's rock solid (seriously, you need a knife and chisel) and crumbly, all signs point to don't use it.  Also, I found that dark brown sugar yielded a chewier and more desirable cookie than light brown sugar, but that's just my preference.  Another preference of mine, check out joythebaker.com and make your own brown sugar.  It's super easy to do, and the fresh flavor is to die for.

Sources: adapted from Annie's Eats, originally from Baking Illustrated