Why Mess with Perfection?

October 10, 2012

In the 28 months that I have been making what I consider to be the best chocolate chip cookie in the universe, I have rarely considered making another.  Recipes come my way all the time, via books and the internet, and the only time I was tempted to stray was for this recipe.  We liked that one very much too.  But after they cleared out of the cookie jar, I went back to my favorite.  I make a lot of cookies and I have many that I like, but Ashley’s are my the tippy top favorite.

So why stray?  Why mess with perfection?  I am a recent subscriber to Saveur and it only comes out 10 times a year so it feels like a pleasant surprise when it arrives in my mailbox.  The most recent issue is terrific, 101 Classic Recipes.  Of course there is a chocolate chip cookie.  I would have just turned the page, chuckling that they got their recipe so wrong.  But when I saw how different it is from any other I have made, I decided to give it a try.  Unlike Ashley’s there is only one kind of sugar and unlike the New York Times (another very good cookie), there is only one kind of flour.  But there are four egg yolks and a completely different method for shaping the cookies.  Rather than scooping the dough out of the bowl and onto cookie sheets, you essentially roll out three sheets of dough, sprinkling chocolate in between them, and then use a biscuit or cookie cutter to cut them out.  Revolutionary or ridiculous?

I’m on the fence.  I found the method to be a royal pain in the butt.  I don’t like rolling out cookie dough.  The only cookie dough I roll out on a regular basis is for holiday cookies and that is because there would be a coup in my house if I didn’t make them.  There is a lot of chocolate and not a lot of dough in this recipe which means they make for lovely eating but are a little difficult to manhandle while you are stamping them out.  I like a cookie with some height and those three layers of dough work wonders for the height of the cookie.  They are soft in the middle and crisp around the edges and if I had remembered to sprinkle sea salt on top of each one, I might have been tempted to introduce this cookie into our family permanently.  Why don’t you bake up a batch of Ashley’s and a batch of these and bring them both over for an official taste test.

And at the end of this post, I have to say one thing.  As I was sitting here, writing about dough and cookies and the quest for the best, I pulled away to get inspiration.  It is something I often do when I get stuck.  I go to my favorite blogs to check in.  See what they are cooking, photographing, and writing about.  I read this post and I laughed and sobbed in the space of a few paragraphs.  And I came back here, feeling silly that I was writing about cookies.  My kids are growing so fast – why am I writing about cookies??  But in the end, cookies are important, especially to my little guys who love them so deeply.

One Year Ago:  Corn Chowder with Coconut Milk, Cocoa Nib Brownies
Two Years Ago:  Savory Rugelach, Ratatouille, Mushroom and Herb Polenta, Bittersweet Chocolate Pudding Pie
Three Years Ago:  Smoky Chard over Grilled Bread, Asian Coconut Noodle Soup, Pasta with Tomato Sauce and Arugula, Almond Praline Scones
Four Years Ago:  Five Lentil and Chard Soup, Quick Olive and Cheese Bread

Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes about 2 dozen

The recipe suggests you use a hand mixer, I used my stand mixer.  It also suggests you roll the dough into the desired shape, I thought it was easier to smoosh (technical term) and pat it into shape.  I kept patting the scraps out over and over again to maximize the number of cookies and they lost their height but not their taste.

2¼ cups flour
¾ tsp. baking soda
¾ tsp. kosher salt
16 tbsp. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
¾ cup packed dark brown sugar
¾ cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
4 egg yolks
9 ounces bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped

Preheat the oven to 375ºF.  Whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl; set aside.  Combine butter, both sugars, and vanilla in a large bowl; beat on medium-high speed with a hand mixer until smooth and fluffy, about 3 minutes.  Add yolks two at a time, beating after each addition; add dry ingredients; beat on low speed until just combined.  Transfer dough to a work surface; divide into 3 equal pieces.  Flatten each into a 4″ x 6″ rectangle; wrap in plastic wrap.  Chill for 30 minutes.

Place one dough rectangle on flour work surface; sprinkle with half the chocolate.  Top with another rectangle, sprinkle with remaining chocolate, and cover with last rectangle.  Using a floured rolling pin, flatten rectangles into a 9″ x 6″ x 1½” rectangle.  Using a 2″ round cutter, cut out cookies; transfer to parchment paper-lined baking sheets, spaced 3″ apart.  Gather scraps, reroll into a 1½” thick disk; cut out more cookies.  (See headnote.)  Bake, rotating baking sheets halfway through cooking, until lightly browned and set, about 15 minutes.


  1. I officially volunteer to make both recipes and do a blinded taste test at lab. And I’ll send you some of each. You can be the tie-breaker, if there is one. :P

    The way you feel about these cookies is kind of how I feel about the Baked brownies. So unbeatable.

    Comment by Joanne — October 10, 2012 @ 1:45 am

  2. Dana, Dana, Dana. Whether you write about cookies or I write about grilled cheese or we both write about soup or salad or mushroom risotto, we all seek and receive inspiration from what (and who) is around us. Cookies are one of life’s greatest pleasures, and there’s absolutely nothing silly about that.

    (Also, thank you.)

    Comment by Cheryl — October 10, 2012 @ 2:41 am

  3. I was so intrigued by this method but I’m so happy that you did the work for me. I think I’ll stick to mine. Although the cookies that I posted most recently are a current favorite. But nothing is better than classic chocolate chip.

    Comment by Ashley — October 10, 2012 @ 3:16 am

  4. We can never have enough chocolate chip cookie recipes.

    Comment by bellini — October 10, 2012 @ 2:20 pm

  5. I saw these too and wondered. You know are very favorite cookie is your Oatmeal Chocolate Chunk with added hearth bar chunks. My family won’t let me try anything else… to them they are perfection.

    Comment by cathy — October 10, 2012 @ 7:09 pm

Leave a comment