America's Test Kitchen: Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies for Valentine's Day

[Scroll down to view recipe and video]

America's Test Kitchen Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie
Chocolate Chip Cookie Made from Scratch
When people think of cookies, they think of chocolate chip cookies, the king of cookies. They don't think of peanut butter cookies, they don't think of oatmeal cookies, and they certainly don't think of gingerbread cookies. It's all about the chocolate chip cookie and rightfully so. Even the good old chocolate chip cookie has many variations. Small cookies, large cookies, thin and crispy cookies, those with nuts, those without nuts, dark chocolate chips, etc., but my personal favorite is the thick and chewy chocolate chip cookie. People automatically think of Mrs. Fields cookies when it comes to chocolate chip cookies. Double Tree Hotel also makes a good chocolate chip cookie as well, but classic recipes for chocolate chip cookies include the classic Nestle Tollhouse (the original chocolate chip cookie), Alton Brown's The Chewy Recipe, the New York Times recipe for chocolate chip cookies, and the Neiman Marcus recipe for chocolate chip cookies.

I know everyone has their favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe, and I'm not going to say that one is better than the other. In fact, there are just so many good recipes for chocolate chip cookies that it's nearly impossible to determine which one is the best. I personally like the thick and chewy chocolate chip cookie recipe from America's Test Kitchen (season 1, episode 10: Cookie Jar Classics) which is surprisingly similar to Jaay Dunlap's Best Ever Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe which appeared on in November of 2006. With Valentine's Day about a week away, you can bake a batch of these thick and chewy chocolate chip cookies for your significant other. I know that's what I'd do for her. You can put them in a nice tin, tie a red ribbon or bow around it, and give it to her after your date night. I doubt shaping them into heart shaped cookies will work, so just shape them the way you normally would. You can definitely bake these cookies for other occasions as well like for your mom on Mother's Day or even for Santa for Christmas.

Enjoy your freshly baked chocolate chip cookie with a glass of milk
Enjoy your freshly baked chocolate chip cookie with a glass of milk.
Baking chocolate chip cookies for your special someone is perfect for Valentine's Day because everyone loves chocolate chip cookies. Who doesn't like a good chocolate chip cookie? If you're baking these cookies for your wife or girlfriend, then she'll appreciate your putting the time and effort into making a batch of homemade cookies just for her. She'll definitely feel special for the amount of work put into it. If you intend to make cookies for your husband or boyfriend, then that's great since the best way to a man's heart is through his stomach. Chocolate has always been synonymous with romance. It's a win/win situation for everybody and this small gesture can go a long way to show how much you care. Just don't get the frozen pre-made dough even the Tollhouse one isn't very good (see picture below). Not only did it spread out, thin, and over bake under identical conditions, it had an artificial taste that did not taste too good. You can't really tell from the picture below, but the Tollhouse cookie was very flat leading to a thinner cookie (as if no leavening agent was added) than the America's Test Kitchen Thick and Chewy cookie (which remained nice and puffy) even though both had the same amount of dough, shaped the same way, and baked in the oven at the same temperature for the same amount of time.

ATK Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie versus Nestle Tollhouse frozen dough
ATK Thick and Chewy (L) and Tollhouse frozen dough (R) baked under the same conditions.

Now I've been baking for awhile now and I've made banana nut bread, apple turnovers, blueberry muffins, blueberry scones, focaccia bread, lemon bars, and chocolate cake, but I've never made cookies. Making the cookie dough is probably the easiest dough you'll ever have to make - you just mix everything together using a stand mixer. Sometimes I like to use 1 cup of bread flour and 1 cup of AP flour because the extra protein found in bread flour helps to develop more gluten which would make for an even chewier cookie. Experiment between using different ratios of all purpose and bread flour and see the differences and determine which works best for you.

use a stand or hand mixer to mix your cookie dough
Use a stand or hand mixer to mix your cookie dough.

chocolate chip cookie dough should be thick
Your cookie dough should be very thick in texture.

When you add the chocolate chips, don't mix it too much using the mixer. The mixer paddle will break up some of the chips, so just use the mixer for only a few seconds when incorporating the chocolate chips and mix the rest by hand. I also like adding a cup to a 2 cups of chopped walnuts to the cookie dough. The nuts tempers the sweetness from the sugar and chocolate chips.

I use a #16 (2.75 oz) scoop from Sur La Table (they have various sizes of scoops) and I level it off meaning that I only use enough cookie dough per cookie that would fit inside the actual ice cream scoop - nothing more. What you have is a half sphere of dough. I then shape it into a sphere. Most people at this point would place the ball of dough on the cookie sheet, but I don't. I squish the dough ball so that I have a disk of dough about a half inch thick (this method usually produces 2 dozen cookies that are about 3 inches in diameter from this recipe). What you get is a better shaped cookie that is consistently thick and even throughout the cookie. I find that cookies that come from a dough ball tend to be very "mound like" - very thick in the center and quite thin at the edges which causes uneven cooking in the oven.

Use an ice cream scoop for uniform size cookies.

ATK Thick and Chewy Dough Ball
Most people form dough balls to make cookies.

ATK Thick and Chewy Dough Disk
But I prefer forming dough disks instead of balls when making chocolate chip cookies.

Sometimes, I'll make the dough a day before baking and leave it in the refrigerator overnight (or sometimes anywhere from 24-36 hours) because a chilled dough will prevent a cookie from thinning out too much. That and it allows the flavors of the dough to come together and develop a more complex flavor profile if you let the dough rest as per the New York Times article. I also like using a pizza pan to bake the cookies because pizza pans tend to be very thin and heat up quickly. If you're using a thick baking sheet, it will take forever for the bottom and inside of the cookie to bake such that the top will be overdone before the center and bottom gets done.

Chocolate Chip Cookies fresh out of the oven and being cooled
Chocolate Chip Cookies hot out of the oven and being cooled.

Now I know it's very tempting to eat a cookie right out of the oven, but I implore you to avoid doing so. You have to let it cool. The reasons are twofold: first, the cookie will break apart. You have to allow the cookie to set which it will do in time. But even more importantly, you have to let it cool down to really enjoy your cookie. This sounds rather counter intuitive since it tastes the best when warm and fresh out of the oven right? Yes they do, BUT.......all chocolate chip cookies do - even the awful ones. When you eat a cookie right out of the oven, it's almost as if your taste buds are biased. The true test of the flavor of a chocolate chip cookie comes when it is cool. A really good cookie will still taste good when not warm. And a REALLY good chocolate chip cookie will still taste good a day after it's baked.

FlavorFool's Notes

  • Use Guittard or Ghirardelli (Guittard is better though) semisweet chocolate chips. Please don't use M&M's...I cringe every time I see a chocolate chip cookie with M&M's instead of chocolate chips.
  • Use a #2 scoop to portion out your dough and shape them into disks instead of spheres.
  • A cup to 2 cups of chopped walnuts is optional and is added along with the flour.
  • I use 1 tablespoon of vanilla instead of 2 teaspoons.
  • I use dark brown sugar instead of light. Dark brown sugar gives a greater depth of flavor than light brown sugar and supposedly it makes for a chewier cookie.
  • Use a thin cookie sheet. Don't use anything too thick since it'll take longer to heat up and for your cookies to properly bake.
  • Enjoy these cookies with a tall glass of milk or perhaps coffee with dessert.
  • Chocolate Chip cookie is best eaten fresh out of the oven
    Cook up some romance on Valentine's Day with these chocolate chip cookies...Enjoy!

    Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe

    America's Test Kitchen - season 1, episode 10, Cookie Jar Favorites
    Makes a dozen and a half (18) large cookies


    2 cups plus 2 tbsp (10 2/3 oz) unbleached all purpose flour [I sometimes use 1 cup bread flour and 1 cup AP flour]
    1/2 tsp salt
    1/2 tsp baking soda
    12 tbsp (1.5 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled [melted butter makes your cookie moist and prevents it from drying out]
    2 tsp vanilla extract [I increase the vanilla to 1 tbsp]
    1/2 cup (3.5 oz) granulated sugar
    1 cup packed (7 oz) light or dark brown sugar [I use dark]
    1 large egg plus 1 egg yolk
    1.5 cups (9 oz) semisweet chocolate chips [I use Guittard or Ghirardelli semisweet chocolate chips]
    [optional: 1-2 cups chopped walnuts]


    1. Adjust the oven racks to the lower-middle and upper-middle positions and preheat the oven to 325°F. Line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.

    2. Whisk the baking soda, salt, and flour in a bowl and set aside. [I sift these ingredients]

    3. In a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the (melted) butter and sugars at medium speed until smooth, about 1 min. Add the vanilla, egg, and egg yolk and beat on medium to low speed until fully incorporated, about 30 seconds, scraping down the bowl and beater as needed with a rubber spatula. Add the dry ingredients (and chopped walnuts) and mix on low until combined, about 30 seconds. Mix in the chocolate chips until just incorporated.

    4. Divide the dough into 18 portions, each about half a cup, and roll them between your hands into balls. Holding one dough ball with your fingers, pull the dough apart into 2 equal halves. Rotate the halves 90 degrees and, with the jagged surfaces facing up, join the halves together at their base, again forming a single ball, being careful not to smooth the dough's uneven surface. Place the cookies on the baking sheets, spacing them about 2.5 inches apart.

    5. Bake until the cookies are light golden brown and the edges start to harden but the centers are puffy and still soft, 15-18 mins [every oven is different but it took me 18 mins], switching and rotating the baking sheets halfway through the baking time. Allow the cookies to cool.

    Video: America's Test Kitchen version of a Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie


    Post a Comment