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A good chocolate chip cookie can be life-affirming. Heck, even an average chocolate chip cookie can be life-affirming. But a great C.C.C.? Utterly life-changing.
And, since I'm a little more discerning than the cookie-obsessed heroine, Angelica Pickles, from the seminal cartoon dramedy Rugrats, a chocolate chip cookie needs to be a few key things: 1) chewy in the centers and crisp at the edges, 2) flooded with fat, gooey pockets of chocolate, and 3) showered with Maldon sea salt for savory crunch. When it comes to chocolate chip cookies, texture is as important as flavor.
As I scoured our recipe archives and crunched the numbers to come up with the 10 most loved, most popular, most baked chocolate chip cookies on our site (i.e., the pages with the most visits since the dawn of time), I quickly learned that we are, as a community here at Food52, pretty diverse in our renderings of the classic.
There's Ovenly's vegan variation, which Creative Director Kristen Miglore ran in her Genius Recipes column years ago (and styled the photo herself, back when Food52 didn't have food stylists). There's contributor Grant Melton's buttermilk version, which broke our site due to its popularity. And of course, we can't forget when cookie maven Dorie Greenspan gave us her recipe for chewy chocolate chip cookies, and we've been hooked ever since.
Whatever your preference, there's likely to be a C.C.C. for you. Here are our top 10:
It's no wonder that our most popular chocolate chip cookie recipe ever is ... vegan! Or at least secretly so. "This isn't just genius for a vegan chocolate chip cookie or in spite of it," Kristen argues. "This cookie, which comes from Ovenly founders Agatha Kulaga and Erin Patinkin, can rest entirely on its own merits: its soft-bellied, chewy, caramelly-crisp-edged, rippled and ringed and puddled with melty chocolate, haunting, well-salted, incidentally vegan merits."
"These newfangled chocolate chip cookies use tahini instead of butter," Recipe Developer Emma Laperruque writes. "Yep! Like, 8 ounces of tahini instead of 8 ounces of butter. I learned this method from Lisa Mendelson, one of the owners of Seed & Mill, a tahini and halva shop in New York City. You can thank her later."
There's a secret ingredient in Grant's chocolate chip cookies that changed his C.C.C. game forever: buttermilk. These "have both a slightly cakey texture with a gooey, moist center," he says, "and the touch of tang from the buttermilk is the perfect counterbalance to the incredible sweet, slightly salty dough."
This one's for you crispy cookie lovers out there. As Kristen suggests, these are perfect "for the next time you need a last-minute party snack or cookie swap entry or a gift for pretty much anyone (including yourself). Conveniently, the brittle packs up well in a big jar for holidays, birthdays, and sugar-fueled road trips and plane rides."
We love anything by Phyllis Grant, but especially these cookies. According to Phyllis, these "are deeply rooted in the Toll House tradition. But, over the years, the recipe has evolved into my own. I've made it thousands of times. I will never stop."
"I wanted a way to introduce tahini in desserts to the American palate," Danielle Oron told Kristen for her Genius Recipes column. "I figured that the best way to do that is to make a peanut butter chocolate chip cookie, but to replace the peanut butter with tahini." Sounds good to us!
This is a Dorie cookie, so you already know it's good. This one "is chewy and a bit crunchy on the edges," she writes. "That it’s got oatmeal is almost a secret—there’s not much, it’s not really visible and until the cookie’s a day old, its taste is in the background—but it’s part of what makes the chewiness so winning. I’ve kept the sugar to a minimum—less sugar means more chocolate flavor."
These are those viral, internet-famous chocolate chip cookies that call for banging the cookie sheet mid-bake so their centers deflate and ripple out. From blogger Sarah Kieffer, those wrinkles serve a very important purpose: They set the cookies' edges and encourage gooey centers, not to mention create all those ripples that are, as Emma writes, "like dropping a stone into a puddle."
I remember watching Jacques Torres' chocolate show on Food Network every day after school. Then, years later, when I worked at Food Network, which was located above Chelsea Market, I'd go to his chocolate shop to eat these cookies. The store vendors would reach for the regular cookies and I'd say, "No, the fresh ones, please." And they knew I knew, winking at me and going to the back of the store where they kept the still-warm, gooey cookies under a kitchen towel. Those were the best.
"The dough exists only to hold the chocolate in place," Ashley Rodriguez writes of her classic cookie recipe. "There is a lot of chocolate, good dark chocolate, in this recipe. Chocolate chips work too, but they won’t puddle and melt into chocolate layers. To cut down the cost a bit, I often use a combination of a great chocolate bar and chocolate chips."