Joy the Baker

The Chocolate Chip Cookie Debate Part 2

July 11, 2008

We’re talking cookies, and we’re not done yet. We’re a long way from done in fact, so settle in!

In the first installment we discussed creamed versus melted butter. Thank you for all your comments. I looks like the melted butter and bread flour combination creates a very high, chewy and almost caramelish cookie. These cookies were chewy even three days after they were baked! Creaming, on the other had, produces a flatter, more buttery, traditional cookie. Both are delicious!  Just depends on your mood!

Now…

In The Cookie Debate Part One I mentioned that the NY Times had serendipitously printed an article about the perfect chocolate chip cookie. Did you read it?

We need to talk about this 36 hour rule. We need to do an experiment.

Here’s the skinny: Some of the best bakers swear that by resting their cookie dough in the fridge for 36 hours, they produce a more robust, evenly browned, altogether irresistible cookie. The science behind the concept indicated that by letting the dough rest the liquids from the eggs are fully absorbed into the flour, creating a drier and firmer dough which bakes up into the perfect consistency.

I’ll be honest. I furrow my eyebrows at this statement. I recognize that baking is about science, and how ingredients interact with one another- but baking is also about sugar, and sugar tastes good. Simple.

In the name of both science and sugar, I’ve made a batch of cookie dough and I’m going to bake them off at 12 hours, 24 hours and 36 hours. Together we’ll see the difference. We’ll get to the bottom of this. And what a delicious experiment it will be!

I used Demolition Dessert’s Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe. It’s has straightforward ratios. It’s creamed butter, white sugar and brown, and chocolate, of course.

Let the waiting and baking begin. Only 12 hours until the first batch!

Thanks for playing along!

Chocolate Chip Cookies

adapted from Demolition Desserts

Print this Recipe!

8 Tablespoons (4 ounces) butter, softened

3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar

1/2 cup plus 1 Tablespoon granulated sugar

1 large egg

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 1/4 cup plus 3 Tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

8 ounces bittersweet chocolate chips or chunks

1. In a large bowl, using a wooden spoon, cream together the butter and brown and granulated sugar until smooth but not overmixed.

2. Add the eggs vanilla and salt and stir until just combined.

3. Sift in the flour, baking soda and baking powder and stir gently until combined. Add the chocolate chips and nuts. Stir just until the ingredients are incorporated. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.

4. Position the oven racks in the upper third and lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.

5. Spoon 1-inch balls onto sheet about leaving about 2 inches between each cookie.

6. Bake the cookies for 13- 17 minutes, rotating the pans after 7 minutes.


32 Comments Add A Comment

  • Do you know how hard it is to keep cookie dough — untouched – in the fridge all those hours? A big storm blew through last night, knocking out the power. Save the meat? Uh. NO. Save the cookie dough!

  • My daughter sent me the NYT article and asked me to bake her some cookies. Dough went into the fridge this evening to bake on Sunday. To perform experiment — suggest making three separate batches of dough so that you have a 12 hour, 24 hour and 36 hour batch ready to cook at the same time. THEN, can cook all three and judge the difference. If anyone tries this = let us know.

  • This is why I love science.

    And cookies.

  • I have two great chocolate cookies recipes. One calls for creamed butter, the other melted. You’re right, it depends on what mood you’re in. I think I like the creamed best, but that’s just me! I’m so interested in your experiment…and I want some of those chocolate chunks! Those look SO good!

  • I read about that and was very curious indeed! I have experimented with resting the dough for 15 minutes to an hour in order to reduce spreading, but flavor never crossed my mind. I’m interested to read your results!

  • KristinaYellow July 11, 2008 at 3:35 pm

    Joy–you wrote yesterday that you haven’t tried the pudding in CCC. I wanted to let you know that you don’t taste it in the cookie (most recipes call for vanilla/french vanilla/or chocolate pudding) so it kind of blends with the flavors already in the cookie. I’m personally still searching for the perfect recipe–I love crunchy outside but chewy inside, able to soak up lots of milk kind of CCC. One of my friends makes CCC with three types of chocolate chips–they are the absolute best cookies and I always ask her to bring them for special occasions. I’ve tried to make her recipe but it never turns out the same way as hers. Guess she just has the magic touch. Can’t wait to read more about your quest for the “best” recipe!

    PS If you need a taste tester, I’m completely un-biased!

  • Greatly looking forward to the experiment!

  • Clumbsy Cookie- You’re right. Chilling the dough in an industrial kitchen is typical. There’s no way we could make cookies if we didn’t make it in HUGE batches and store it in the walk in. I also spaced on an interesting part of the article: the fact that Nestle removed the chilling period from their bag o’ chips recipe. Scandal! I also have a feeling that it will be hard to judge. I know from working in kitchens that there is very little difference in the baked cookies as the dough ages in the walk in. I suspect that the difference will be subtle. I’ll reserve cookies at each mark for a side by side test, although there will be the undeniable difference in freshness.

  • In bakeries chilling the dough is normal, because usually the doughs are made in massive amounts and kept in the fridge until they are all used up. So maybe bakers started realising that the longer chilled dough cookies tasted better and so someone jumped to research and got that conclusion. Personally I think it can make a difference, but not radical. I’ll experiment the NY Times recipe next weekend probably.
    Besides the 36 hours what stroke me the most in the article was the fact that Nestle reomoved the chilling period from the original recipe, maybe to not scare bakers how were looking for instant treats.
    I’m curious about your review. But it’s also difficult to judge sinse you won’t be eating them together, right?

  • Oh what a perfect experiment for my 9th graders to do! (I teach high school biology). We can dive into the scientific method…AND eat our project!!!

  • I’m so glad you’re doing this. I read that article and thought that experimenting needed to be done. And that’s where my part of that ended :D

    I’ll probably get around to doing it at some point – because if it really does improve things, I can see adding that step for “special occasion” cookies. You know, Christmas, birthdays, etc.

    And I’m going to have to make the Alton Brown melted butter/bread flour version at some point too. In between the Dorie baking. And all that pesky summer heat and activities.

  • I do that with my cookies a lot. I will mix a whole batch and portion out the dough and stick it in the fridge…this also helps with the overeating problem too. Since you can just bake up a couple cookies a day! I like the concept!

  • Cooking in the name of science is a noble project.
    Can’t wait for the results!

  • I’ve never heard of the 36 hour rule. But now I’m seriously intrigued. I can’t wait to see how these bake up!

  • Ahh, what a fun experiment! I like the concept behind the 36 hour rule, but you know, I never really plan ahead very well. I usually bake cookies when I have a craving!

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