I’m working on a book called Cookie: A History: From Animal Crackers to Zwieback which will be published later this year by University Press of FL. An important part of the book is the chocolate chip cookie, which was invented by Ruth Wakefield of Toll House Inn fame. As part of my research, I read Ruth’s book with her original recipe (different than the “original” one you get on the Nestle chocolate chip bag). One interesting thing about the recipe is that it says to refrigerate the dough overnight.
A recent NY Times article discussed this method as the secret to making the ultimate chocolate chip cookie. I decided to try it and see what happened. I made the traditional Nestle recipe from the back of the bag, however I don’t use Nestle chips – I use Ghirardelli chips. I made the dough in secret. If anyone else in this house knew there was chocolate chip cookie dough in the house that wasn’t baked there would a) be a riot and b) be none left to bake once they got their paws on it. I let my dough sit in the refrigerator 36 hours – the optimum time suggested in the Times piece.
Let me just say that I find chocolate chip cookies to be pretty darn perfect to begin with, so it was really hard to imagine that refrigerating the dough could make them any better. But it was. These were the BEST chocolate chip cookies I’ve ever had. The cookie attained the the three rings described in the Times piece. The outer ring of the cookie was very crisp. Then there was a ring that was almost toffee-flavored, slightly crunchy and slightly soft. The inner ring was soft. The cookies baked up to a beautiful toffee color.
I’m quite stunned at the how good these were. This method is worth its weight in gold. The only problem, of course, is that chocolate chip cookies are often an impulse bake in this house – someone gets a craving and we make a batch. It would be hard to decide you wanted them, then wait 36 hours! I can definitely do this when I do holiday baking, though.
Next on my list of experiments is to try different flours. When Wakefield was baking, flour had a different protein level and it is believed that influenced the cookie in a big way.