I Tried the Chocolate Chip Cookies with Over 14,000 Positive Reviews and They Are a Classic for a Reason
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Chocolate chip cookies are an all-American confection: They were invented by Ruth Wakefield of Toll House restaurant in Whitman, Massachusetts, as an accompaniment to ice cream. The recipe first appeared in the 1938 edition of Wakefield’s cookbook, “Toll House Tried and True Recipes,” and was later reprinted in “The Boston Herald-Traveler.” The recipe was then featured on “Famous Foods From Famous Eating Places,” the radio program hosted by Marjorie Husted (AKA Betty Crocker), which cemented its reputation as America’s go-to cookie. In 1939, Wakefield sold Nestlé the rights to reproduce her recipe on its packages — for $1 and a lifetime supply of chocolate, according to “The New York Times.”
Over 14,000 readers have given Allrecipes’ “Best Chocolate Chip Cookies” five stars, but their recipe is more or less the same as Wakefield’s original — including calling for baking soda to be first dissolved in hot water before adding to the batter, a step often found in old-timey recipes.
It was this baking soda step that sent me sleuthing, and led me to Wakefield’s recipe. My 9-year-old daughter and I were looking for popular internet recipes for this ubiquitous treat. We’re avid bakers and I’d never seen such a direction before. My understanding is that baking soda dissolved in hot water helps give baked goods additional lift and allows for a quicker, lighter rise, but further Googling was inconclusive. Anyways, I guess that’s why this recipe is so internet-beloved: it’s the OG recipe!
I decided to let my daughter have a go on her own after I read this (unedited) review: “Hi my name is bekah I am 9 years old. I made these cookies by myself and everyone in my family loved them very much. My mom said that she cant make cookies these good! They rose so much and they were delicious!!!”
Here’s how it went:
Allrecipes’ recipe is straightforward in terms of ingredients and execution:
- Cream butter and sugar.
- Add vanilla extract and eggs and beat until combined.
- Add dry ingredients and mix until just combined
- Fold in chocolate chips.
- Scoop and drop onto prepared cookie sheets.
My daughter used her colorful, compact hand mixer — I highly recommend the KitchenAid 5-Speed Hand Mixer — and had a batch of cookies on the table in less than 45 minutes. We tested the recipe twice: once, as written, and again, omitting the hot water step. We didn’t use walnuts at all (allergies), but did incorporate mini M. & M.’s (first test).
Our honest review:
Take 1: My daughter loved them — these cookies are chewy and crunchy and crisp and just perfect served a la mode as they were intended. The textures of the cookie and ice cream work well together. However, I found them rather basic, flavor-wise. I personally prefer a more complex cookie (Brown butter! Sea salt! Dark chocolate! Chili pepper!) and these were rather one-note for me. My daughter’s addition of mini M&Ms made them far too sweet — it was just too much milk chocolate for my liking.
Take 2: This batch was a bit airier. The dough was somewhat wet due to the additional liquid, and my instinct would have been to chill such a dough (preferably overnight; see my suggestion below). But we faithfully followed the recipe! Pre-activating the baking soda seems to limit spread, and leads to cookies that are slightly chewier in the middle. Again, these were kid-pleasers. She distributed them to friends in the neighborhood. I think she’s happy to have these popular cookies in her baking repertoire.
4 tips for making Allrecipes’ Best Chocolate Chip Cookies:
If you want to futz with a “classic”:
- Brown your butter. Brown butter will add a depth, richness, and unmistakable nutty flavor to the cookies. Here’s a handy tutorial.
- Refrigerate your dough for 24 hours. This results in cookies that brown better, bake more evenly, are pleasantly chewy, and have a more complex, pronounced flavor. In fact, Wakefield advised to “chill this dough overnight” in her cookbook. This information was omitted from the version of her recipe that Nestlé prints on its packages.
- Zhuzh up your cookies with cardamom, ruby chocolate shards, or a sprinkle of fleur de sel to finish. There are near-infinite variations of this American cookie; go discover your own.
- For the adults, serve with red wine or whiskey, advises Jon Michaud in “Sweet Morsels: A History of the Chocolate-Chip Cookie.” (I haven’t tried this yet, but I’m very into this idea!)