Welcome to Chocolate Chip Cookie Week, celebrating one of America’s most iconic and widely loved comfort foods.
What are we talking about when we talk about a perfect chocolate chip cookie? In his theory of forms, Plato posits that there are essential, true forms of all concepts which exist independently of our weak, mortal minds’ failure to render them. (Oh you thought you were just going to read about cookies? Buckle in.) For those who slept through Philosophy 101, here’s an example: Just because you can’t draw a perfect triangle or point to a perfect tree doesn’t mean there isn’t a concept of the perfect triangle or perfect tree that exists. Those are the Platonic ideals of triangles and trees.
Thus, friends, what is the Platonic ideal of a chocolate chip cookie? Even if we have never gazed upon such a miraculous creation, our minds can struggle toward a definition. Below, The Takeout writers attempts to describe the essence of our perfect chocolate chip cookie.
Crisp, golden brown, with nuts
My Oma bakes chocolate chip cookies that are among the best I’ve ever had, probably because she makes them exactly the way I want. I imagine something just beyond my Oma’s cookies are the most perfect, most ideal cookies. Hers are crunchy-brown on the edges and crisp throughout—no gooey center for me—with big chunks of dark chocolate (not waxy milk chocolate), and little bits of toasted, chopped-up walnuts.
I’ve watched her bake them, and even my spying doesn’t allow me to recreate them exactly. Mine never quite achieve the depth of brown-sugariness and the mysterious Maillard goodness that occurs on the crumby edges of Oma’s cookies. Even after they’ve been stored in one of the decorative tins Oma seems to stockpile in warehouse quantities, they taste just as fresh as if they’d come straight from the oven.
How does she do it? I can’t explain, probably because my mouth is full. [Kate Bernot]
Classic Toll House, no nuts, raw or warm
Many years later, sure, I now mix dry ingredients with a whisk instead of sifting. We still don’t need to clog this up with your walnuts or fancy dark-chocolate or white-chocolate chips—just stick to the package, and we’ll get along fine.
Once the cookie batter is made, truthfully, my favorite form of chocolate chip cookie is the uncooked kind. Yeah, yeah, salmonella whatever—apparently I am immune, because I have been eating uncooked dough for decades, and it’s my favorite. If I must bake the cookies, my ideal delivery system is right out of the oven, warm but still gooey. A lightly scalded tongue from the heated-up chocolate is a small price to pay for one of the most delicious homemade taste-sensations imaginable. [Gwen Ihnat]
Thick, crunchy, buttery, large chocolate shards
The most delicious cookie I’ve ever had was one I tasted on a Canadian airline; so good I had it shipped to the U.S. at an exorbitant price. It’s not so much a cookie as it is shortbread with chocolate chips. That experience has informed what I now look for in a chocolate chip cookie: Intensely buttery, thick, crunchy, and crumbly, baked dark, with a generous amount of large shards of bar chocolate. [Kevin Pang]
Takeout commentariat, please tell us, what is your ideal chocolate chip cookie? (And maybe link to a recipe?)