America’s Test Kitchen Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies

Is anything as iconic in the realm of hand-held American desserts as the chocolate chip cookie?

As I learned when I made Team Toll House Cookies, the first chocolate chip cookie was made in 1930 by Ruth Wakefield at the Toll House Inn in Whitman, Massachusetts.  The Toll House recipe is a classic, and since I am a sucker for tradition (especially ones originating in New England), it’s always been my go-to recipe.

My friends, I think it might be time to rethink that.

Another New England culinary institution, Brookline’s own Cook’s Illustrated magazine, along with its public access television show America’s Test Kitchen, have come up with their own “perfect” chocolate chip cookie recipe.  The Cook’s Illustrated/America’s Test Kitchen model is experiment, experiment, experiment.  The home chef or baker can always be guaranteed delicious results with their recipes, because each dish is tested as many times as it takes by the ATK chefs to get the very best results.

As part of their recent Boston Blogger Cookie Challenge, I was delighted to have an excuse to make a batch of Cook’s Illustrated Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies.  The challenge timed perfectly with Mother’s Day, since I can think of no better person than my mom to receive a batch of cookies with the Cook’s Illustrated/America’s Test Kitchen seal of delicious.

Assembled ingredients include semi-sweet chocolate chunks, walnuts, and lots of butter.

The recipe differs from most right out of the gate when it calls for some of the butter to be browned first instead of the normal “cream butter and sugar until light and fluffy” method.  Creaming makes cookies more “cakey”, while the browned butter keeps the texture chewy in addition to enhancing the flavor.

Once the butter is browned and smells nutty, it’s removed from the heat, and the remaining butter is added and mixed in until it melts.  Then the sugars (both brown and white), vanilla, salt, and eggs are added and whisked into the melted butter.

In order to give the sugars time to dissolve and deepen the flavor of the dough, the mixture is allowed to rest for several moments between whisking, until it is smooth and shiny.

Finally, the dry ingredients are added…then the chocolate chunks and walnuts.  A few turns with a rubber spatula gives you a wonderful, soft, heavenly-smelling dough that you must try very, very hard not to eat raw.

ATK recommends shaping balls of 3 tablespoons worth of dough.  These are larger to allow for maximum ratio of crispy edges to chewy center in the finished cookie.

Remember how I said America’s Test Kitchen is all about experiment and perfection?  It’s so nice when someone does all of the hard work for you!

After their trip to the oven, you will have exactly 16 cookies.  You will know they are ready when you see crisp golden brown edges with still slightly soft centers.

The flavor and texture of ATK’s “perfect” chocolate chip cookies is remarkably different from the Toll House recipe.  The melted browned butter upped the chewiness, while small adjustments to the egg and flour amounts allowed the flavor of the brown sugar to shine brighter.  The larger size of the cookie, along with the higher baking temperature, resulted in cookies with perfectly crispy edges and soft centers.

In a word…delicious.  I will be glad to wrap and mail them along to my mother so she can also enjoy them – while simultaneously removing the option for me to just throw in the dishtowel and have a plate of them for lunch.

You’re going to love these cookies…

Note: Because ATK does so much to ensure that their recipe wording serves an exact purpose in getting the best results, I am going to post their ingredients list and recipe instructions pretty much verbatim.

Cook’s Illustrated/America’s Test Kitchen Presents:
Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated and America’s Test Kitchen

1 ¾ cups unbleached all-purpose flour (8 ¾ ounces)
½ tsp. baking soda
14 Tbsp. unsalted butter (1 ¾ sticks)
½ cup granulated sugar (3 ½ ounces)
¾ cups packed dark brown sugar (5 ¼ ounces)
1 tsp. table salt
2 tsps. vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 large egg yolk
1 ¼ cups semisweet chocolate chips or chunks
¾ cup chopped pecans or walnuts, toasted (optional)

  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and place the oven rack in the middle position.  Line 2 large (18×12 inch) baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
  • Whisk flour and baking soda together in medium bowl and set aside.
  • Heat 10 tablespoons of the butter in 10-inch skillet (if possible, do not use nonstick) over medium-high heat until melted, about 2 minutes.  Continue cooking, swirling pan constantly until butter is dark golden brown and has nutty aroma, 1 to 3 minutes.
  • Remove skillet from heat and, using heatproof spatula, transfer browned butter to large heatproof bowl.  Stir remaining 4 tablespoons butter into hot butter until completely melted.
  • Add both sugars, salt, and vanilla to bowl with butter and whisk until fully incorporated.  Add egg and yolk and whisk until mixture is smooth with no sugar lumps remaining, about 30 seconds.  Let mixture stand 3 minutes, then whisk for 30 seconds.  Repeat process of resting and whisking 2 more times until mixture is thick, smooth, and shiny. 
  • Using rubber spatula or wooden spoon, stir in flour mixture until just combined, about 1 minute.  Stir in chocolate chips and nuts (if using), giving dough final stir to ensure no flour pockets remain.
  • Divide dough into 16 portions, each about 3 tablespoons.  Arrange 2 inches apart on prepared baking sheets, 8 dough balls per sheet.  Smaller baking sheets can be used, but will require 3 batches.
  • Bake cookies 1 tray at a time until cookies are golden brown and still puffy, and edges have begun to set but centers are still soft, 10 to 14 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking.  
  • Transfer baking sheet to wire rack; cool cookies completely before serving.

Printable Version from Cook’s Illustrated

40 thoughts on “America’s Test Kitchen Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies

  1. Amber says:

    Love this! I learned something, the words flowed like melted butter, and my mouth is watering over your photos. Like the well-tested recipe itself, this post is darn near perfection. :) Now, if I could only taste those cookies through my screen…

  2. Courtney says:

    Can’t wait to try this recipe this week! ATK uses browned butter in a few baking recipes that I enjoy. It adds alot of flavor! Thanks for another beautiful, informative, and all around delightful post!

  3. Megan says:

    Your pictures are absolutely gorgeous! I love that you added walnuts. I did pecans, and I haven’t found many other posts using nuts. The brown butter is such an essential part of these.

  4. Chelsea says:

    I baked these this morning. They are AMAZING. The recipe says to shape the cookies into 3 tablespoon balls. I thought that was way too big so I just did 2 Tablespoons for decent sized cookies and baked them for exactly 10 minutes and they turned out crispy on the outside with chewy centers.

  5. Becky says:

    wow.wow.wow! these are the BEST chocolate chip cookies EVER! I’ve made many many batches of choc. chip cookies in my life time and these are pretty much perfect! The first batch i made i doubled the recipe right away because i knew it woud never last long at our house.. they were all in i think three hours(: so two days later when i made more i didnt just doube the recipe i did it x4(=

  6. Melissa says:

    I consider myself a cookie connoisseur, and this is by far the best chocolate chip cookie I have ever had. I mean I have literally tried every single store bought chocolate chip cookie, I have tried several recipes (including my go to toll house), I have eaten just about every local coffee house chocolate chip – and this trumps them all. Thanks!!!! (It’s worth the extra steps, trust me – follow the recipe and you won’t be sorry)

  7. Aaisha @BakingPartTime says:

    Absolutely love that last photo where the cookies are stacked! I’m a fan of thick cookies, but so many of the ones I’ve had are too cakey or doughy in the middle. These look perfect! Can’t wait to try them out! Lovely blog by the way :)

  8. Bonne B says:

    I use walnuts in cookies too… But I sub white chocolate morsels for the choc chips because my boyfriend isn’t a fan of “Chocolate” chocolate. He tears these cookies up like he’s never seen a cookie before! I think they’re better than white chocolate macadamia cookies.
    ***When I’m doing super special occassion cookies I use Black Walnuts***

  9. Pol says:

    I make these cookies on a regular basis because they are so delicious! I also chill the dough overnight and bring it to room temp before baking it, it will help the cookies from collapsing – they look absolutely georgous!

  10. Anonymous says:

    Somehow, your first line of ingredients does not compute. 1 3/4 cups of all purpose flour equates to approx 6oz (USA weight, avoirdupois), not 8 3/4oz. Unless you are using some other type of unit I am not aware of, there seems to be a discrepancy in your equivalent measures.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Ok. I’ve discovered that Cooks uses an equivalency ratio of 5oz = 1 cup…much different than other recipe sources which use a ratio of 3.5oz = 1 cup.

  12. anonymous says:

    Ok, I’ve discovered that Cooks uses an equivalency ratio of 5oz. = 1 cup, much different than other recipe sources that use 3.5oz. = 1 cup.

    • Aimee says:

      Hi there. Yes, Cooks does have their own measurement amounts for cups that differs from others. That’s why it’s always best to work in weight to make sure you are using exactly what the recipe intended — if you’re lucky enough to get a recipe with weight measurements and you have a scale!

  13. Kate says:

    I see that you posted this recipe a long time ago. I just made them tonight, linked to the recipe via pintrest. Amazing. Thanks for sharing. I love the idea of weighing my ingredients. Does anyone know how much three tablespoons of this dough should weigh so I can get really measured cookies?

  14. Jessica says:

    My cookies turned out flat =( The only change I made was 1T balls of dough instead of 3T. Freezing the balls of dough before didn’t help too much either. Maybe with smaller cookies use a lower oven temp?

    • Jessica says:

      I am also at 4000+ ft altitude…so I guess that could be it as well! I could try more flour next time.

  15. Irma says:

    My first tray were big,flat cookies so I froze the next tray of smaller cookies for 20 min. They turned out more like yours. So maybe the dough got a little too warm in the first batch.

    • Aimee says:

      Hi Irma. Glad to hear the second batch worked out. Cold dough is key! If the dough is warm, the butter melts quickly and makes the cookies spread into pancakes.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Love them even my husband liked them…he’s only liked the one on the back of the chips bag…and I too put less on the cookie sheet..

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