Classic Chocolate Chip Cookie Fans, Meet Your New Favorite

September 25, 2018

Whenever I’m within a two (ok, maybe four) block radius of New York’s Chelsea Market, I make an excuse to pop in to Amy’s Bread for a crusty, dark chocolate-studded sourdough twist. If I’m lucky, I can snag one still warm from the oven, gushing with bittersweet chocolate.

But I’m not always around the block from Amy’s, and I wanted needed a faster fix. The problem? I don’t bake bread.

I like baking confections of all kinds—cakes, cookies, blondies —but I leave bread to the pros. Between the proofing, punching, kneading, and rising, it’s all just a little too much for my skill level. Instead, I decided to translate the sweet-tangy flavors into something I love to bake (and eat!) more than anything else: chocolate chip cookies.

These are hiding a tangy secret. Photo by Bobbi Lin

One thing I know about bread baking is that you need a quality sourdough starter, a fermented mixture of water and flour used to leaven bread. Most starters take weeks to get just right, but to keep it simple, I came up with a solution, a "faux" sourdough starter. This imposter starter isn’t fermented enough to make a loaf of crusty bread, but we are just making cookies here. After two days, it’s got enough of a subtle sour flavor to give the cookie that pungent sourdough punch I’m looking for.

Making this starter is simple. Mix together some flour with some warm tap water in a large glass jar. Place the lid or kitchen towel on top, leaving it slightly ajar so the starter can breathe. Let it work its magic for two days in a cool, dark place, like a cupboard. The mixture won’t look any different until day two, when it will start to form big bubbles and nearly double in size.

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Top Comment:
“Any chocolate chip cookie recipe benefits from more brown sugar and less white sugar: use about 2/3 brown and 1/3 white. Also, replace 1/2 cup of all purpose flour with bread flour.”
— Emike

To enhance the sourness, I use rye flour, which has more microorganisms and ferments more quickly than all-purpose flour. (Thanks to The Perfect Loaf for this helpful tip!) To up the tanginess even more, I replaced the vanilla extract typically found in a chocolate chip cookie recipe with distilled white vinegar. It adds a sour flavor and tender bite.

Just mix in the starter with the rest of the dough. Photo by Bobbi Lin

The cookie dough is a bit sticky, so I like to use a medium cookie scoop when portioning out the dough. It makes a cookie that’s about 3-inches once it’s baked and gives the perfect balance of crunchy golden-brown edges with a doughy molten center. When the cookies come out of the oven, I like to top with a little flaky sea salt for a savory finish.

The incredibly rich, ultra-addictive cookies won’t last long. In fact, after throwing your sheet in the oven, you may want to start growing another sourdough starter for the next batch.

More cookie cravings

What's your favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe? Shout them out in the comments below!


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Grant Melton is an Emmy Award-Winning Producer of the Rachael Ray Show, food writer and recipe developer. He's a contributor to Food52, NYT Cooking and Rachael Ray Every Day Magazine. He loves cookies, cocktails and kindness.


Michele October 2, 2018
Do you use the full amount of the starter ?
Christina G. October 2, 2018
The recipe calls for using the entire amount of the "fake starter".
Christina G. October 1, 2018
I bake sourdough bread regularly. I always have leftover starter. How much starter do I use for this recipe?
PhillipBrandon October 2, 2018
I tried estimating from the weights of the flour and water he used in his preferment and used a little more than 100g of my ripe starter. It wasn't enough to notice in the end cookie. They did come with very light-textured interiors.
Christina G. October 2, 2018
I may increase to 150g of ripe starter. I will post results.
Emike September 26, 2018
Any chocolate chip cookie recipe benefits from more brown sugar and less white sugar: use about 2/3 brown and 1/3 white. Also, replace 1/2 cup of all purpose flour with bread flour.
Kt4 October 1, 2018
How did the different flour change your outcome with this cookie recipe? And what was the difference for you when you made the recipe with the posted sugar ratio compared to your suggested change?