A New Gold Standard: Bravetart Chopped Chocolate Chip Cookies

Since I discovered Jacques Torres' chocolate chip cookie recipe almost a decade ago, I've become quite jaded about trying other chocolate chip cookie recipes. The Jacques Torres recipe has become my gold standard and I've been certain that no other recipe could possibly meet or exceed it. Well I've finally found a contender: the chopped chocolate chip cookie from Bravetart by Stella Parks.

This recipe is meant to use chopped chocolate, not commercial chocolate chips. Stella says that using chopped chocolate "creates a blend of chunky nuggets, slender shards, and fine, powdery bits, marbling the dough with fudgy streaks and pockets of pure chocolate." The thing is, I don't usually stock block chocolate. Also, I'm not a big fan of spending lots of time chopping chocolate. But I do happen to have several varieties of Cacao Barry couverture chocolate in flat pistoles that have a high cocoa butter content and melt easily. So I cheated and used those instead: 135 grams each of 34% caramelized white chocolate, 38% milk chocolate, and 70% dark chocolate.

I'm used to Stella Parks' recipes having some surprising ingredients or methods, but this one seemed pretty straightforward, except for the inclusion of a bit of nutmeg. You cream soft butter with sugar, brown sugar, vanilla, salt, baking powder, baking sugar, and nutmeg until light and fluffy; add a cold egg; and stir in the flour and chocolate. I used a #24 scoop to portion the cookies and got 30 from a batch of dough. I topped each cookie with a few reserved chocolate pistoles and a sprinkle of fleur de sel before baking. The cookies spread quite a bit in the oven and ended up rather flat with cracked tops. They were nicely round and I really liked the way they looked.
I could not believe how good these cookies were. I baked them for 16 minutes and they were crisp on the outside and firm throughout, which is my personal texture preference for chocolate chip cookies. But the most impressive thing about these cookies was the deep caramel flavor, which was enhanced by the distinct hit of salt. The reason I love the Jacques Torres cookie so much is because of its lovely caramel flavor -- which develops while the dough is being chilled, for at least 24 hours. I don't know how this cookie achieves the same depth of flavor when the dough is baked immediately. I couldn't taste the nutmeg in the finished cookie, but I'm going to trust Stella's assertion that it deepens the flavor of the butter.

This cookie is definitely different from the Jacques Torres cookie -- the textures are different and the latter is a heftier, fatter cookie. But honestly, this is the first time I've tried a chocolate chip cookie where I immediately thought that it was as good as the Jacques Torres cookie. I haven't compared the two cookies side-by-side, but I feel comfortable saying that these cookies meet my gold standard. And they might be even better if I went to the trouble of chopping up chocolate bars. Either way, I'm going to be making these cookies often.

Recipe: "Chopped Chocolate Chip Cookies" from Bravetart by Stella Parks. The recipe is available here at Serious Eats.

Previous Post: "Measuring Up the Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie," July 11, 2008.