Battle of the Chocolate Chip Cookies

I am often asked, “What is your favorite thing to make?”

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I think the beauty of pastry is that it is wide ranging and varying, so my answer is usually a two parter – the first being whatever I’m currently obsessed with (scones, cheesecake, croissants to name a few) and the second being the classic chocolate chip cookie, because I am firm believer that chocolate chip cookies are the perfect dessert (or snack or breakfast).

And this is not saying I’m repeating the same recipe over and over again. I am always in search of the perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe. They can be sweet but with depth, really chocolatey or just speckled, and take to a variety of fun add-ins! Ex: I obsessively made coffee chocolate chip cookies for a month last spring.

 
Maybe that’s why they’re universally loved; They are so simple that they’re easily adaptable. In fact, there are so many ways to make a chocolate chip cookie that if you love them, you probably have a preference: crunchy vs chewy, flat vs puffy, semi sweet vs dark vs milk chocolate, the list goes on…

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Every season the food community has a new chocolate chip cookie recipe to obsess over – often calling the fresh take the best or ultimate or perfect recipe. I’m sure you’ve all seen the headlines for the “chocolate chip cookie to end all other chocolate chip cookies” or “the only chocolate chip cookie recipe you’ll ever need” or “throw all your old recipes in the garbage and make this cookie over and over and over again”.(I made all these headlines up but don’t pretend that they couldn’t be real.)

 
If you follow even just a handful of food accounts on Instragram (or if 90% of your feed is food, like me) there is a good chance you’ve seen one or both of the “Internet famous” cookies I made last week. Last fall it was Sarah Kieffer’s Pan-Banging Chocolate Chip Cookies and this year it has been Alison Roman’s Salted Butter Chocolate Chunk Shortbread.

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The cookies are vastly different – Kieffer’s being a take on the traditional with some exciting pan-banging anger management that creates ripples in the cookie’s edges, and Roman’s being a new take – introducing more people to shortbread than ever before.

 

I thought it would be fun to make them side by side since they have both been hailed Top Cookie. (Can this be a show? 100% would watch.)

The recipe’s are linked above so I’ll save you the play by play and instead give you my pros and cons:

Salted Butter Chocolate Chunk Shortbread
Pros:
– Gorgeous and obviously hiiiighly instagrammable.
– Incredibly snackable – crunchy, but too hard, and impossibly buttery. I literally ate four in a row before I internally screamed at myself to stop.
-Travels well! Would be great to take to a book club or party or office.
-Might even be better on day two? But probably won’t make it to day three.

 

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Cons:
-Shortbread is not the same as a traditional cookie (no eggs, no chemical leavening), so the end result has a different texture than you may be used to. Part of me did miss that butterscotchy, chewy aspect that you get in a traditional cookie.
-You have to buy salted butter. (But then you can use the other sticks to make fun savory things like Roman’s Crispy Smashed Potatoes!)
-Because they’re a shortbread, I personally don’t think they have the heft to be a dessert the way a traditional chocolate chip cookie can be. In my mind they’re a snacking cookie…that’s a thing, right?

 

Pan-Banging Chocolate Chip Cookies
Pros:
– Her recipe is very in line with the traditional CCC recipe. If you’ve made chocolate chip cookies before, this dough will be a breeze.
-They get those super crunchy, chewy edges, but still have soft, puddley centers.
-They are also so beautiful. The cookie of a food photographer’s dreams.
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Cons:
There are a quite a few steps post dough making that made these cookies a bit tedious.
-The cookies are huge so you can only make four at a time.
-You’re required to put the pan in the freezer 15 minutes prior to baking.
-Pan banging is fun and all but requires you to hang out by your oven for a while. Essentially, you let the cookies bake for 10 minutes, and then every 2-3 minutes after that you pull out the pan and bang it on the stove top (I banged it on a cork trivet to not piss off my roommates) to deflate the center and create the ripples.

 

Personally I liked the shortbread more. Still, I don’t think it really matters! I happen to prefer less flat and crinkley textures when it comes to my chocolate chip cookies but who knows which one you’ll prefer!

Both chef creators of these cookies have been quoted saying something along the lines of “why would you ever make any other another cookie?” As I’ve said, these cookies were so different – even with the shortbread coming out as my favorite, it’s probably more of my favorite for now, as I can’t imagine I would be happy making only them forever and ever until I die.

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I understand the desire to have one recipe that beats all the others, but I disagree that it’s even necessary to find. I guess I should eat my own “search for the perfect cookie”, because I’ve found that like most things, there is a spectrum to chocolate chip cookies.

Instead, I now say make them all! Find out which ones you like and why, and be even more ready the next time you want to bake something good. Just don’t get mad at me when you’ve eaten way more of them in one sitting than any adult should — not speaking from actual experience, of course.

If you didn’t catch the links above, here they are again:

Pan-Banging Chocolate Chip Cookies
Salted Butter Chocolate Chunk Shortbread

Wishing you the best on your food adventures,
Sav

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