Quick! If you were going to make a THE ultimate chocolate chip cookie, the Last Cookie, the one you would request on Death Row and the one for which all other cookies were mere preparation — what would you put in it?
Ah ha! But you are not allowed to include walnuts, pecans, nuts of any kind in fact, oatmeal, peanut butter, CANDY, or any other frankly weird ideas.
So what’s left? How much can you successfully tinker with a cookie that was invented by Toll House (back when it was the Toll House Inn, in 1930s Massachusetts — aren’t you just dying from the charm of it all?) and has been happily printed on the back of Nestle Toll House chocolate chip bags for the past 80 years? I grew up on these cookies and sincerely adore them for non-nostalgic reasons. I am just as skeptical as you all. Why tamper with perfection?
One way around it: consider that the first step isn’t so much “tampering” as “restoring,” because after Miss Ruth Graves Wakefield chopped those fateful chocolate chunks into her Butter Drop Do cookies, she let the batter chill overnight. A crucial piece of information that was omitted when Nestle began printing her recipe on bags of chocolate chips in 1939. Scandal! So let’s restore that resting time.
Baby steps, friends. What else would make a cookie better? If the following changes don’t endear this recipe to you — well, get off my plane and I won’t let you try any.
Step two, make the cookies bigger.
Step three, add more butter.
Step four, and more sugar.
Step five, better and bigger chocolate chips.
Step six, dust with sea salt.
When New York Times, in all its infinite wisdom set out to find the aforementioned Ur-Cookie several years ago, big-time chef and Times scribe David Leite sought wisdom from the Pantheon of bakers, from Jacques Torres to City Bakery to Insomnia Cookies. So all this bigger-cookie riffing has a real reason, grounded in baking science. And then Mr. Leite distilled all this culled wisdom into eleven ingredients and slammed it on the front page of the dining section on a sweltering day in early July and called it PERFECTION.
So . . . are they?
We’ll let you know in a few hours.