Alright, alright, I might as well give in and own it: chocolate chip cookies are my thing. Even when I have killer recipes, I can’t help but try others. And I’m not even going to apologize, because otherwise I would never have found the 36-hour cookies, even though I was (and still am) enamored with the Neiman-Marcus cookies.
So, I tried Alison Roman’s famous salted butter and chocolate chunk shortbread cookies, back when I still had lactose-free butter, and I have to say I did not care for them. Only one was nice enough to be photographed; they would have fared better without the egg wash, but still, I’m not making them again.
I took a look at what I call pan-bang cookies, which were all over the internet last fall. They looked good, but let’s face the facts: their entire draw is the fact that they end up being very flat (and have ripples), but a flat chocolate chip cookie is not what I want – I like them thick and chewy. So I’m not going to be pan-banging, or whatever the kids are calling it these days. There are still “chef recipes” I want to try, like the three on the BuzzFeed round-up, but I didn’t get around to it, and I probably need more taste tester for those.
I baked some of each as I made them over the past few months, of course, but I also saved some dough in the freezer for comparison purposes for today, alongside some 36-hour cookie dough made last week (gotta have something for teachers and coaches before the holidays) and some Neiman-Marcus for good measure (I had some in the freezer and they wanted to join the party).
First up, Everyday Reading cookies. They are ideal baked 10 minutes when the dough is straight from the fridge. They are delicious, crisp on the outside and chewy on the inside, but they are best served immediately – they don’t keep all that well, even if the raw dough is left in the fridge and baked on demand. I got 25 cookies from that batch.
Tara O’Brady’s cookies were easier to shape after chilling the dough; I got 32 from that batch. They also baked up in 10 minutes if they were straight from the fridge, and were actually better the next day once the dough had rested. I didn’t really have anything remarkable to say at that point, though.
The Cook’s Illustrated cookies yielded an even 24 cookies, which I measured as accurately as I could (1.25 ounces each) given that I did not own a #24 cookie scoop. They were easier to shape at room temperature, though I baked most of them cold – 12 minutes is ideal if the dough has been kept in the fridge.
Broma Bakery’s cookies yielded 18 cookies; the dough was *very* soft, so they were easier to shape once it had been chilled. They baked in 13 to 14 minutes from the fridge, but they spread in the oven and turned stiff once cooled. They were certainly not great.
Then there was today’s bake-off, where I pitted them all against one another, starting with frozen dough for every one and baking everything at 350 °F for 14 minutes, because there are limits to how finicky I will get in accommodating particular recipe variations for a total of six cookies. (And for the record, I had a nice healthy salad for lunch, and *tasted* all six cookies but did not *finish* all of them.) In each photo, they are, clockwise from top left: Everyday Reading, Tara O’Brady, Cook’s Illustrated, Neiman-Marcus, 36-hour, and Broma Bakery.
The olive oil one was eliminated immediately for its unpleasant texture (more tacky than chewy). Tara O’Brady’s cookies soon followed, for the same reason. I like Cook’s Illustrated’s cookies, but find then a bit bland, or like they are missing something, especially compared to the rest. And the cookies with shortening are taller and a bit crisper than the others, but they also taste like something is missing. Meanwhile, the Neiman-Marcus cookies are delicious, but a different beast altogether. I kept coming back to the 36-hour cookies as a “control cookie” to use when tasting, and in the end, I did prefer them as far as no-frills chocolate chip cookies go.
Conclusion: The 36-hour cookie wins again! Also, I have now purchased a #24 cookie scoop, because I’m taking this cookie-making thing a bit more seriously.