Since homemade chocolate chip cookies are the greatest creation of the gods, I bake them regularly. And I’m damn good at it. I usually never stray from the Toll House recipe, and when I do, I usually regret it, because that recipe is pure genius.
One day a few years ago, I was sitting around pondering cookies for a few hours, while eating cookies and probably shoving chocolate chips up my nostrils. I was thinking about the ingredients that go into making such a lovely creation, and BAM BOOM POW, it hit me that if these cookies, made with the lowly ingredients from my pauper grocery store, what could they taste like made with the most expensive, freshest, purest, amazingest ingredients I could get my hands on?
It’s taken me until just now to actually make the things; sometimes procrastination happens. Read on for the exciting conclusion!
Ingredients I Used:
Chocolate Chips – Clearly the most important ingredient, I usually use Nestle or Ghirardelli. I assumed researching chocolate for baking would send me down the deepest rabbit hole, and I was right. In fact, I’m not sure I can ever use a bag of chocolate chips again after reading this one statement: “Although there’s (probably) no harm in eating them, stabilizers compromise the flavor of the chocolate and give it a waxy texture.” source
I was surprised to see how many people preferred Valrhona, Callebaut, and Sharffen Berger over Ghirardelli, so I opted for a bar or 6 of Callebaut from Whole Foods. It’s about 3 times as much as the chocolate I usually buy at nearly $9/lb.
Butter – I usually use the cheap, unsalted, Target brand of butter. Shame. Shame. I read that with American vs European butter, European has a higher fat content/less water, but can lead to a denser baked good. I fully expected to be dropping $20 on butter, but I opted for organic at around $5.
Sugar – I use Domino, because it’s cane sugar instead of beet sugar, and this one time? On the internet? I read that cane sugar was vastly superior.
I decided to stick with white cane sugar instead of raw sugar, because the grain can be larger in some raw sugars and I wanted to make sure everything mixed up evenly.
Brown Sugar – I usually use Domino. Now I’ll always stick with brown cane sugar, because of this quote: “Although the industry maintains that they are identical products, many chefs use only brown sugar made from sugarcane, maintaining that brown beet sugar negatively affects their products.” source
Vanilla Extract – McCormick usually. This time I bought a $10 bottle of vanilla and felt like a millionaire plunking the shit down on the conveyer belt.
Eggs – Phil’s cageless organic eggs. I used these again, because I couldn’t get my hands on a chicken.
Flour – I use Gold Medal unbleached white flour (this might need to be my new nickname). I bought King Arthur flour for these cookies. Side note: if I ever get into the packaged food biz, all of my products will be named after royalty.
Baking Soda – Arm & Hammer, yo. My word, I love baking soda. It’s kind of a miracle substance, right?
Then I found this article about natural vs. lab-made baking soda and WHOOPS I’M EVEN DOING BAKING SODA WRONG. Anyway, I’m not terribly convinced that natural baking soda is much better than fabricated baking soda, but the price difference was alluring, so I splurged for some Bob’s Red Mill.
It seemed to me to be finer in particle, and also did you know that baking soda is very controversial? Read some of the comments in different posts about baking sodas.
Salt – Some stupid sea salt is what I usually use. And now I’ve learned that it doesn’t matter if you use sea salt or regular table salt – unless you use salt with added iodine, you won’t be able to taste any difference, nor is there much difference.
I totally need to buy some Fleur de Sel now to keep around the house for random sprinklings, however.
Raw dough score: 10 Uh mah gah, this raw dough was so good. You know, if I had eaten any, which I obviously didn’t because who would eat raw eggs? So irresponsible.
Fresh from the oven score: 10 It’s so worth it, and indeed, advisable, to burn the hell out of your mouth on these.
Later that night score: 10 Shovel ’em in at 10pm.
Straight from the freezer score: 10 Cold and snappy. Just like my personality.
All 10’s! All around – even though you don’t know if this is out of 10 or a million. Who cares? These cookies were damn delicious, and here’s is my un-foodie take on the differences:
The main difference was the chocolate. I could tell a taste difference between this and the Nestle chips – not so sure if I could tell much of a taste difference between this and Ghirardelli, but I am a convert to buying a block of chocolate and hacking it up now. It’s fun to sometimes get a sliver and sometimes get a hunk of chocolate with different bites.
This might sound weird, but I felt like overall, there was a more homogenous taste to the cookies. Like when I usually bake them, I can almost taste the butter and sugar separately, but with these, all the ingredients seemed to meld together more cohesively. They tasted less sugary-sweet-over-the-top, and more even.
The best part about this whole experiment? I have no idea why I decided to do this other than to buy expensive chocolate. The end. Go regard my chocolate chip scones recipe if you want an overload of chocolate chip baked goodness today.