A chocolate chip cookie deep dive
And yes, I have the BEST recipe
I’ve been all over the place with Substack posts this summer. Having travelled quite a bit, I wanted to report back on some new adventures and culinary discoveries. It has been a while since I posted a recipe, so I decided to post an absolute favourite: my chocolate chip cookies.
Now here you are thinking that there are already a million recipes for that American classic, so why bother with another? Simply put: mine are the best, and as many people who’ve used my books Chez Lesley and Make Every Dish Delicious have been telling me, I’m not exaggerating because they wholeheartedly agree
When I began writing my cookbooks, the idea was to present the most delicious version of each dish or recipe, and when it came to chocolate chip cookies, I have VERY strong opinions on what I like and dislike.
In my youth, chocolate chip cookies were always made with the recipe on the back of the Chipits package. That carried on for decades and frankly, they weren’t a favourite. But then one day, I was in a shopping mall with my mother in Montreal, and there in a department store were two women making chocolate chip cookies. Unlike the Chipits cookies, these cookies were made with CHOCOLATE CHUNKS! Or, if memory serves me, chunks of TOBLERONE BARS! One bite, and I was transformed. Who knew you were allowed to change a classic? From then on, I saw chocolate chip cookies in a whole new light. Maybe, with a bit of tinkering, they could even be delicious? I thought hard about the possibilities, but then continued making them off the back of the Chipits package.
I was obviously not the only person to see the chocolate chip cookie potential, because from then on in, chocolate chip cookies became a “thing.” Here in Montreal, the company Felix & Norton starting opening cookie boutiques in the mid-eighties selling all sorts of gourmet cookies and were they ever good. And expensive.
I once heard a talk by Felix & Norton’s president and founder, Michael Eskenazi, and though he would never divulge the recipe, he said the secret was, “butter, lots of butter.” I always liked a Felix & Norton cookie, but all that butter made them extremely rich. And I liked another cookie better.
In operation from 1976 to 1987, “Les Terrasses” was a multi-level shopping centre located in what is now the Eaton Centre. In the food court at the McGill metro station level, was at a stand called “Treats” where I’d pick up four cookies and a banana/strawberry/yogurt smoothie before my ballet classes. Small, soft, and made with a good ratio of dough to chocolate chips, these cookies may have cost me all of my spare change, but they were worth it. Treats eventually closed, but the memory of their cookies will remain in my vault of food memories forever.
When it came time for me to come up with my own recipe for chocolate chip cookies, the Treats cookie was my prime inspiration.
The most recent chocolate chip cookie trends toward the too buttery, too raw, too chocolate-chunk-heavy and now, too salty. After just one of those cookies, I run for a glass of water and skip my next two meals. No thanks!
So with a bit of experimentation, and contributions from a few chef friends, I came up with the cookie of my dreams. It’s one of my only recipes I never bother to improve because frankly, it’s perfect as is. Have a try and let me know.
And try them you should, because 500g of Felix & Norton frozen cookie dough costs about $10, or 50 cents a cookie, whereas if you make my recipe from scratch, you’ll get 750g of dough for $6.00, or 20 cents a cookie.
Food for thought.
Notes on getting the cookies just right: Be sure to bake the cookies in staggered rows. If not they could bake together, which isn’t a big deal but is to be avoided nonetheless.
One of the secrets of a great chocolate chip cookie is to underbake them so be sure to take them out before they turn golden on top. Feel free to adjust the amount of chocolate chips to your taste. I vary between 1 and 1 1/2 cups. And try them with mini chocolate chips, or a mix of several kinds of chips. You can of course use chocolate chunks, but just don’t go crazy.