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Welcome back to Cookbook Showdown, where a daring home cook tests four recipes for the same dish from popular cookbooks to see which one comes out best. You'll be surprised what you can learn about a cookbook by comparing a recipe to similar recipes from other chefs. Today we're testing recipes for a classic sweet treat: chocolate chip cookies. Does a Nadiya Hussain, Cheryl Day, Becca Rea-Tucker, or Vallery Lomas recipe take the cake, or in this case, a cookie? Read on to find out.
The History of Chocolate Chip Cookies
Chocolate chip cookies burst onto the American culinary scene in the late 1930's and we've been obsessed with them ever since. Chef Ruth Graves Wakefield, owner of the Toll House Inn restaurant in Whitman, Massachusettsaccreditedwith the invention of the chocolate chip cookie. He began serving the cookie with ice cream at his restaurant and became a national sensation after including his recipe in the cookbook.Tried and True Toll House Recipesin 1938. Although various rumors circulate that Wakefield came up with the idea due to mistakes or because he ran out of cocoa powder, food historians tend to agree that the creation was intentional.
A year after the publication of her cookbook, Wakefield became a consultant to Nestlé and sold them the rights to her chocolate chip cookie recipe and the Toll House restaurant name. This recipe, with a few minor modernizations, remains the gold standard today.
Chocolate Chip Cookie Basics
The beauty of chocolate chip cookies lies in their simplicity. They're traditionally a drop cookie, meaning they're formed by scooping or rolling the dough, rather than rolling it out and cutting it into shapes. Ingredients typically include flour, egg, brown and white sugar, vanilla, a leavening agent such as baking powder or baking soda, a fat such as butter or vegetable shortening, and of course, chocolate chips or chips.
Chocolate chip cookie twists abound. Some of the most popular are adding chopped nuts or candy bars, or adding cocoa to the batter to make double chocolate chip cookies. In this experiment, I chose to keep it traditional. The four recipes I tried have a lot more in common than what sets them apart. They're all butter-based, baked at 350 degrees Fahrenheit, and sprinkled with flakes of sea salt. At first I was concerned they might be too uniform to judge. But I was surprised to find that in the case of the humble chocolate chip cookie, small differences in ingredient proportions or processing made a big difference.
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I made all four batches of cookies in one day using Ghirardelli chocolate and other similar ingredients. (ThisSilicone matsthey were a godsend.) I made all the cookies with the same Pampered Chefmedium tablespoonfor easy comparison and adjust cooking times accordingly. And for the first time in my experimentation with the Book Riot cookbook, I recruited a group of 15 friends and neighbors for a round of Cookbook Showdown: Democracy Edition. I will include my thoughts on the process and results for each recipe, but let my tasters' votes determine the ultimate winner.
Cookbook Showdown: Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipes
Nadiya Assavon Nadiya Hussein
Then he won sixth gradeThe Great British Baking Show, Nadiya Hussain's culinary career has exploded. She now has several cookbooks, cooking shows and presents and judges places in various competitions across the UK. With accessible and delicious recipes, Hussain's cookbookNadiya Assaoffers over 100 recipes for all kinds of baked delights, from shredded chicken donuts to tutti frutti pavlova and more.
Hussain's chocolate chip cookie recipe promises perfectly rounded, chewy treats. In the introduction, he argues that there is a special magic to making these cookies from scratch, even though they are easy to find on store shelves. That's how I did it in my test.
Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies by Nadiya Hussain
As for the ingredients, Hussain's recipe calls for all the usual ingredients plus a dash of almond extract. The technique is most different from other recipes I've tried. Instead of beating the butter, the recipe calls for melting the butter before mixing it with the sugar and eggs. This was the only recipe I tried that didn't require a hand mixer. Once formed into balls, this dough needs to stay in the fridge for at least four hours, while the other recipes baked almost immediately after mixing.
Due to the long cooling time, the dough dried out a bit and the biscuits didn't fall apart when baking, but round balls. The end result was doughy rather than chewy, and using milk chocolate chips instead of semisweet or bittersweet gave it a sweeter flavor. The almond extract particularly stands out as an aftertaste, which was quite polarizing for my tasters. Almost everyone chose these cookies as their first or last choice.
Nadiya Hussain's Chocolate Chip Cookie Scores
Taste: 3/5— If you like almonds, you will enjoy them in these cookies. But I would have liked a stick of dark or bittersweet chocolate to balance out the sweetness.
Texture: 2.5/5— The long chilling time dried out these biscuits quite a bit, so that they ended up doughy rather than chewy. But that's a lot!
"It"-Faktor: 3/5— The almond makes these cookies stand out from the competition, but not always in a good way.
Overall: 3/5"Although they might not have been victorious, they were still delicious!
Cheryl Day's Southern Baking Sweetheartvon Cheryl Day
In the year that I bought this cookbook, it has become my cookery bible. Cheryl Day is a legendary restaurateur and food historian. And having amassed an impressive collection of old cookbooks, I had many resources to draw on while writing this indispensable guide to Southern baking.Cheryl Day's Southern Baking Sweetheartincludes classic techniques and ingredients for all popular favorites. He has also won several previous Cookbook Showdowns.
So I was really excited to try your chocolate chip cookie recipe and submit it to a neutral audience for this contest. am i biased Am I easily swayed by the clarity and heart of your writing? As I expected, his recipe is very traditional and promises crispy edges, a soft center and a nice mix of savory and sweet.
Cheryl Day chocolate chip cookies
The ingredients and methods of this recipe are very simple. He asks for shavings or chunks of semi-sweet chocolate (I used shavings) and a dash of cane molasses. The dough rests in the refrigerator for 30 minutes before baking, and the cookies are topped with a sprinkling of sea salt before being placed in the oven.
These cookies look perfect and taste just as classic. They will delight lovers of crunchy and tender biscuits with a generous amount of chocolate chips. My taste testers have ranged from calling them the perfect combination of light/crunchy and salty/sweet to saying they're a little basic but rarely come last.
Cheryl Day Chocolate Chip Cookie Results
Flavor: 4/5“It's exactly the taste I want from a chocolate chip cookie, with a nice saltiness from the flaky sea salt on top.
Condition: 5/5— The edges are crispy and the center is soft and chewy as promised.
"It"-Faktor: 3/5"No big surprise here. I don't think they'll win any cookie contests, but sometimes classic is just what you want.
Overall: 4/5— A balanced and tasty biscuit with a good amount of dark chocolate chips.
Bake by Feeling: Recipes to Fix Your Emotions (Whatever They Are Today!)by Becca Rea Tucker
If you're on Instagram, you've probably seen one of the many viral posts from@LaDulceFeministaPro-abortion and self-care messages on cakes and pies. Becca Rea-Tucker, the pastry chef behind the account, has written her new cookbook.Baking to feelto show how cooking can help us explore and manage our emotions, be they negative, positive or something in between. Each recipe is accompanied by an emotion and a small activity or reflection on that emotion. It's a fantastic cookbook for anyone who considers themselves a "stress baker".
Rea-Tucker's Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe provides that nostalgic feeling. A sidebar of the recipe asks bakers to consider how homesickness can be happy or sad, and suggests removing judgment from homesickness. The cookie recipe promises an extra chewy texture through the use of extra egg yolk. That's how they stayed.
Becca Rea-Tucker Egg Yolk Chocolate Chip Cookies
Meant to evoke nostalgia, this recipe is appropriately traditional in ingredients and techniques. He asks for semi-sweet fries and a sprinkling of sea salt flakes after cooking. The biggest difference from the other recipes I've tried is that there are more wet ingredients than dry ingredients, which makes the cookies look softer and fluffier.
They definitely provided chewiness and came out the fluffiest after cooling. Among my taste testers, these tended to be a favorite of soft cookie lovers.
Becca Rea-Tucker's Chocolate Chip Cookie Results
Flavor: 4/5— These cookies have a classic taste and a nice salty finish.
Condition: 4/5— If you love a soft and fluffy cookie, this is the recipe for you! It was nice and chewy for days after baking.
"It"-Faktor: 3/5"The flavor of these cookies isn't particularly unique, but the texture was noticeably different from others I've tried.
Overall: 4/5— This is a classic flavored cookie with an incredibly smooth texture.
Vallery Lomas dominates the baking world, from the Food Network throughNew York Timescooking and more. But his greatest merit, winning theThe Great American Baking Show- went unnoticed. The season was canceled shortly after the premiere aired due to allegations against one of the judges. Thankfully, Lomas didn't let that stop her from spreading her love of baked goods. her cookbookLife is what you bakeis full of unique flavors and beneficial techniques she found in Louisiana, Los Angeles, D.C. and Paris.
Lomas' chocolate chip cookie recipe has a notable twist: it replaces much of the traditional butter with olive oil. Combined with sea salt, it's said to add depth of flavor and help create the perfect texture of crispy edges and a soft center.
Vallery Lomas Olive Oil Chocolate Chip Cookies
The added olive oil made a wonderfully silky batter. Forming the cookies was easy and less sticky than shortbread recipes. Still, I had some doubts. Would the taste of olive oil be overwhelming? Does it pair perfectly with more traditional flavors?
I was surprised to find that the olive oil left no obvious traces of flavor or aroma in the finished cookies. None of my taste testers registered the oil or noticed anything noticeably different about these cookies. (By comparison, almost everyone assumed Nadiya Hussain's cookies contained almond extract.) I've had a lot of feedback about the perfect texture. The bottom and edges were quite crunchy, but the center of the cookie stayed soft and chewy. I loved using semi-sweet chocolate chips to balance out the sweetness.
Vallery Lomas Chocolate Chip Cookie Findings
Taste: 5/5— I loved the balance of richness, bitterness, saltiness, and sweetness of the oil, sea salt, and chocolate.
Condition: 5/5- Olive oil came with crispy edges and chewy core.
"It"-Faktor: 3,5/5— I was surprised to find that the oil didn't produce a more unique taste. These tasted balanced, but still quite traditional.
Overall: 4.5/5— This is a really popular recipe with great taste and chewing properties.
Although I was initially concerned that these recipes were too similar to distinguish from one another, they all turned out to be surprisingly different. It turns out that small changes in ingredient proportions and technique really make an impact. So which cookie came first?
I asked 15 friends and neighbors to try and match the four different cookies to help me crown the winner. (Thanks to Professor Edmonds for teaching me about forced classification in my undergraduate applied mathematics course.) I was surprised to find a good distribution of the results; each cookie placed first by at least two tasters and each cookie placed last by at least one. This democratic experiment showed me that a lot depends on personal preferences. But one cookie recipe trumped the others and was...
Cookbook Contest Winner: Olive Oil Chocolate Chunk Cookies by Vallery Lomas deLife is what you bake
The secret ingredient in these biscuits provides a complex flavor and excellent texture. Five tasters chose Vallery Lomas Olive Oil Chocolate Chip Cookies as their first choice, and another six named it their second choice. This set it apart from the competition and made this recipe a Cookbook Showdown winner.
Honorable Mention: Chocolate Chip Cookies by Cheryl DayCheryl Day's Southern Baking Sweetheart
Learn why forced sorting is important. If I had only ordered the first few options this cookie would have been a winner! Cheryl Day's Classic Chocolate Chip Cookies were voted Best Cookies by six tasters. But they were only ranked second by three testers. Democracy is complicated and I love these cookies and this cookbook. So really, I think both win.
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