After my best chocolate chip cookie search post yielded 26 recipes in 24 hours, I knew I had too many cookie recipes to bake each and every one. So like any good geek, I averaged the recipes to make the best cookie recipe ever, or what I call a Mean Chocolate Chip Cookie. Get it? Mean? Ha ha ha.
To begin, I compared all the recipes, removing any duplicates. You'd be amazed how similar chocolate chip cookie recipes are. Then I further whittled down the list by removing those that called for non-traditional ingredients (New Hope Mills buckwheat pancake mix, almond butter) or appeared in books that I didn't own (The King Arthur Flour Cookie Companion, Union Square Cafe Second Helpings). That left me with twelve distinct recipes, which I entered in an Excel spreadsheet (download the spreadsheet).
This experiment called for scientific precision.
Here's where it got hard and I had to use math. I converted all the measurements to base 10 so I could enter decimals into my spreadsheet, e.g. 6 tablespoons of butter equals .75 sticks of butter. But it wasn't enough to just average ingredients. I also needed to account for differences in the directions. Some recipes called for cold butter, others for melted. So I averaged technique as well, taking into account various oven temperatures and recommended dough chilling times.
If you've ever baked, you know how precise baking needs to be. The idea of averaging a recipe struck me as both amusing and insane, and I was pretty sure the resulting cookies would be terrible. After all my calculations, I baked a batch. I had to make a few tweaks, e.g. my oven didn't have a setting for 354.17°F so I used 355°F. But I stayed true to the math as much as possible. I didn't check on how the cookies were doing, but simply baked them for 13.04 minutes. (I got that .04 by hesitating just a moment before opening the door after my timer went off!) And what do you know?
Clockwise from top left: 1.33 eggs plus .33 egg yolk, mixing, cookie upskirt photo, dough ready to bake
These cookies were pretty damn good! I'd expected the worst. I'd expected they'd be inedible, or burnt, or floury and gooey at the same time. I had a hint they might not be too bad when I tasted the dough. But when I pulled them from the oven, I was amazed. The first bite revealed a cookie crispy around the rim, warm and chewy on the inside. A few hours later, they were firmer, but still tasty. The best chocolate chip cookies ever? I'm not sure, but I baked A Mean Chocolate Chip Cookie. And that's enough for me.
A Mean Chocolate Chip Cookie
2.04 cups all-purpose flour
0.79 tsp. salt
0.79 tsp. baking soda
0.805 stick unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
0.2737 stick unsalted butter, cold
0.5313 stick unsalted butter, melted
(1 US stick = 8 tablespoons = 1/4 lb.)
0.84 cups light brown sugar
0.10 cups dark brown sugar
0.54 cups white sugar
0.33 egg yolk
1.46 tsp. vanilla extract
0.17 tbsp. water
0.25 tbsp. milk
1.53 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
Pre-heat oven to 354.17°F, or as close as you can get.
Sift flour, salt, and baking soda together in medium bowl. Set aside.
Using a hand or stand mixer, cream butter and sugars until incorporated and smooth. Add vanilla, water, milk and eggs. Mix until all ingredients are combined. Add flour, salt, and baking soda and blend until fully incorporated. Stir in chocolate chips.
Cover and chill dough in the refrigerator for 25 minutes.
Place parchment paper on one-third of cookie sheet, drop dough by rounded tablespoons onto sheet. Some cookies will be on parchment, others off. Cook for 13.04 minutes.