The elusive best chocolate chip cookie recipe. It’s been searched for high and low, experimented with since the dawn of time (presumably), and many claim to have the best and many do!
This is MY best and, turns out, a fave of many family and friends, so I wanted to share it. These cookies are requested over and over again and it seems they are quite cherished when I deliver. Even more of a reason to share the greatness that is this chocolate chip cookie.
Searching for a recipe I could call my own in this great realm of chocolate chip cookie-ness started long ago, but reached its peak when I had my first cookie from Levain Bakery in NYC, courtesy of my ever-thoughtful husband.
Those Levain cookies are epic. Gigantic, for one, super thick and cakey, baked just enough that they’re not raw, but you’re actually not sure if they are or not, and oozing with flavor and chocolatey goodness.
They cost about $4 each which does not stop me for a second from buying one of every flavor. I’ve been back many a time and they never fail to impress in terms of size and flavor. I vowed after taking my very first bite that I’d try my darnedest to replicate this cookie to produce a version I could call my own.
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Over the years, I’ve produced my fair share of solidly good chocolate chip cookie recipes. But, it wasn’t until recently that I nailed it.
My version of the Levain miracle that comes in cookie form. Now, it doesn’t taste like theirs and that wasn’t necessarily the intent.
The height of the cookie, the texture, was more what I was going for. And, I got there – hallelujah!
Turns out, all I needed was a little cake flour, an even distribution of baking powder and soda, less egg white than I’d used in the past, a special ingredient (see below), and a heck of a lot of chocolate chips (or chopped semi-sweet chocolate).
And, here’s my favorite part: a secret ingredient! I always wanted a recipe that had some flavor in it that was elusive and barely recognizable, but gave the baked good a unique and desirable flavor. And it all happened by pure accident.
Several years ago, a close friend of mine brought me a bottle of Mexican vanilla back from her recent vacation there. It was special and delicious and I went through it in a heartbeat.
Because I couldn’t likely return to Mexico myself anytime soon to purchase another bottle, I went to trusty Amazon and ordered the closest version I could find (this one – not sponsored). And, just like that I discovered the specialness that is this particular Mexican vanilla. It has a uniquely strong flavor and I’ve been using it ever since.
Of course it’s totally worth mentioning that while this is grown from organic vanilla beans, it does contain other ingredients that may not be so organic. Personally I’m okay with this, but wanted to be sure to mention it here as I know there are many purists out there looking for only organically grown and sourced ingredients.
Typically, I cook and bake that way. I make an exception here.
When mixing this dough, you’ll note that it is quite a large quantity of cookie dough. Yes, yes it is.
After adding in the chocolate chips, the bowl of your mixer will be super full. So as to avoid said dough spilling out onto your counter or floor, stop the mixer and knead the chips into the dough with your hands to ensure they’re evenly incorporated.
Initially, I made these chocolate chip cookies much larger to try to replicate Levain’s cookie size. I have since pared down that down to a still hefty two ounces.
I find this makes a big, not but not-too-big-you-can’t-eat-it-all-yourself cookie. And, each batch produces about 25 cookies, which is a decent amount to tuck away in my own cookie jar and still have a few leftover to share with friends.
To achieve Levain-size cookies, I would measure out about triple this amount to six ounces.
Portioning out these cookies and rolling them to create uniform sizes and shapes is important to me, yet takes a bit more time. To me, it’s worthwhile time spent, however, you can choose to be reckless and wild and scoop these out using an ice cream scoop or throw all caution to the wind and eyeball ’em.
Now, I have found these work best when baked in a convection oven, at higher than normal cookie baking temperature (400ºF / 200ºC) for a short period of time.
If you don’t have convection, don’t despair, just add a few minutes to the baking time. I always, always rotate my cookie sheets, both between racks and front to back.
In my oven, this really helps ensure even baking and browning. When you take them out of the oven, they should be just browned on top, but just baked – don’t over-bake!
Definitely err on the side of under-baked rather than over-baked here. The cookies will continue baking on the hot cookie sheets when you take them out of the oven, so leave them to cool for a few minutes on the trays, then transfer to wire racks.
Eat soon thereafter cuz, let’s be honest, chocolate chip cookies are absolutely best when still warm and ooey gooey.