For about a decade I have endeavored to build an exceptional cookie recipe that does not demand too much fuss in home preparation, nor use excessive or uncommon ingredients. The one outstanding difference in my approach from that of any familiar home cookie recipe is that my basic, fundamental unit is "egg mass."
USDA law defines eggs sizes (large, jumbo, etc) by "minimum net weight per dozen." In practice this means eggs in a carton commonly vary in mass by 20%. A typical large egg has about 50g of yolk & white, but a given dozen usually ranges from 45g to 55g. Superlative baking demands exacting ratios. Since eggs are quite variable in mass, superlative cookies must be built around egg-mass ratios.
For ages I relied on a spreadsheet that calculated ratios for the "Plasma" and "Polymorphic" when egg masses were punched in. It also allowed me to track iterative progress. By pure chance the polymorphic converged at pleasingly mathematical egg-multiples: 1, 2, 3, 4, e, π ; 0.5, 0.75, 1. As Bob said the week I locked the recipe with its elegant coefficients, "it's like God embedded the recipe in the very fabric of the cosmos." Indeed, and thus:
The egg sets the baseline unit for all other ingredients; 1 egg mass = 1 unit.
2 white sugar
3 brown sugar
4 AP flour
e unsalted butter [2.72]
π chocolate chips [3.14]
1/2 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp vanilla extract*
whip / cream / mix / scoop / freeze / bake / eat
1. Crack and weigh a whole egg for the working egg mass.
2. Add half of white sugar to eggs, whip until frothy, then set aside in separate bowl. (Note the ratios are 1:1 for egg & sugar in the whip, easy math.)
3. Cream fridge-cold butter and remaining sugars (1 more part white, 3 parts brown) until hella fluffy, add vanilla* once mixture softens.
4. Add eggs to creamed butter/sugar and whip just until wet ingredients are homogenous, they should be frothy and light.
5. Sift / whisk together all dry ingredients except chocolate. Add to liquid mixture and pulse mixer until dough is 90% combined. Do not fully mix or the final steps will over work the dough.
6. Fold in chocolate chips, hand mixing until dough is even and fully homogenized.
7. Scoop dough into 1/4 cup hemispheres (#12 disher / ice cream scoop), arrange in any sealable/coverable container for chilled storage. Seal.
8. Freeze dough completely before baking (typically ≥ 8 hrs).
9. Bake at 370-375° with frozen hemispheres round-side-down on sheet pan (not insulated!) lined with silicone sheets or parchment. Cookies are done when surface glossiness & sheen disappear from center of cookies, 17+/-2 minutes.
10. Remove from oven and slide liners+cookies onto counter to cool. Note that the centers are intended to collapse into goo, the final shape should be a sort of caldera. Eat once cookie temperatures are under 110°F, about 15-20 minutes after removal from oven. Ideal cosmic cookies have three clear textural zones: crispy & chewey caramelized bottoms and edges, puffy and light mid-body, and gooey centers.
I've been testing these as my standard recipe since March 2017 and they've been consistently great. I hope your batches also turn out wonderfully. Good luck, and enjoy!
- Dave, July 2018
* There is secret cookie sauce added to my vanilla. You'll still have to ask for the secret ingredient...
Crispy caramel edges hold soft and chewy centers, the original legendary project cookie. They seldom last long out of the oven, giving rise to their "plasma" moniker. As Hawkes once exclaimed after a decidedly premature consumption incident, "These things are like 40% chocolate and 60% hotter than the sun! It's a plasma cookie." Indeed.
The Plasma recipe (which has much less elegant coefficients) and additional cookie science commentary available upon request. Recommended equipment for your own sciencing:
Gram scale with tare function (absolutely mandatory)
Excel or Google Spreadsheets (for normalizing masses vs. eggs, which vary)
Stand mixer (or hand mixer and burly forearms)
Dishers in sizes #12, #16, and #20
Silicone baking sheets (or siliconized parchment)
Non-insulated cookie sheets (I like bare steel)
Non-contact IR thermometers (laser thermometer)
Thermocouple(s) and/or Digital Multimeter
I can talk science on chocolate cookies all day. Someday maybe this page will be filled with the finer points of chocolate chip cookie baking. Maybe. If I feel like sharing. And I like you.