If you’ve ever attempted to make chocolate chip cookies from scratch, it’s highly likely the recipe you used was the Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe found on the bag of Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chips. And I’m going to go out on a limb and say you liked it. You should, it’s a kick-ass recipe. And considering how many of us buy pre-made store bought cookies, the occasional scratch cookie is always going to be better. Always.
But what if I told you we could make it better. I’m not talking about a different recipe. God knows there are thousands of chocolate chip cookie recipes out there and I’ve made my share of them. But you find yourself going back to the staples. Back to the workhorse recipes like Nestle’s.
Today I’m going to tell you a few things you can do to elevate this recipe to a whole new level.
Original Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe
- 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks, 1/2 pound) butter, softened
- 3/4 cup granulated [white] sugar
- 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 eggs
- 2 cups (12-ounce package) NESTLE TOLL HOUSE Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels
- 1 cup chopped nuts (optional)
That’s the original recipe for Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies. And that’s what we’re going to fix.
Step 1: Elevate the Ingredients in Your Chocolate Chip Cookies
A simple way to make chocolate chip cookies better is to buy better versions of the ingredients in the recipe. You can experiment with different flours if you want. Try cake flour and pastry flour or a whole wheat. But flour is a tough one. You have to make sure you get the right ratio of proteins. So I’ll admit, you can improve the cookie, but it’s not easy. And I’m all about easy. So stick with all purpose flour. However, up the amount by 1/4-1/2 cup. Nestle cookies can be flat. Adding the flour helps to fatten them up.
Use whatever baking soda and salt you have. You can’t do much to those.
Pick a Better Butter
Now the butter. That’s a different story. Instead of using inexpensive store brand butter, splurge and buy Kerry Irish Unslated Butter. It’s higher in fat and therefore much richer in flavor.
Regular and brown sugar, you’re alright here. You could go with dark brown sugar. But I found little difference in flavor.
Don’t Use Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chips
Wait, what? We’re using their recipe but not their chocolate chips? Sorry, they’re not very good. They are high in sugar and don’t have the best chocolate flavor.
All Vanilla Extracts are NOT Created Equally
Vanilla extract is a big one. Good extract is expensive because farming vanilla beans is expensive. Supermarket extract, unless you go to a nice market, is usually the cheap stuff and some of it isn’t even made from real vanilla beans. First thing you should do is check your vanilla extract label. If it doesn’t say “vanilla bean” anywhere in the ingredients, chances are it’s just chemicals posing as vanilla extract. That’s going to make your cookie taste like shit.
Each vanilla has its strengths and weaknesses. I use Nielsen-Massey Mexican Pure Vanilla Extract that Ashley got me for Christmas one year. That’s right, my wife buys me vanilla extract for Christmas. Jealous?
Get American made Mexican vanilla. I know it sounds crazy. But the Mexican made Mexican Vanilla is usually not made from pure vanilla. Splurge a little. It will last a long time and it’s going to make everything that much better.
Eggs are fine. It only matters if you’re throwing some jumbos or extra large eggs in there. In which case, you’ll need to offset some of the liquid from the larger eggs with more dry ingredients like flour. Not a huge deal.
Step 2: Add a New Ingredient to Your Chocolate Chip Cookies
If you were to stop right here, you’d already have improved your cookies. But I’m going to take it a step further.
For the longest time, I liked all of my desserts and treats super sweet. My wife likes stronger, less sweet flavors. I’m milk chocolate, she’s dark chocolate. Being with her has forced me to try new flavors and in doing so, you learn about the magic of salt in sweets.
So I add Maldon Sea Salt Flakes to my cookies. I’ve seen most people put them on top of the baked cookies like a finishing salt. Instead, I put 1/2 teaspoon in the cookies as I mix them. When you eat the cookies, you’ll get this nice salty aftertaste. It’s amazing. But if you prefer it on top, then set the 1/2 teaspoon to the side for after you pull the cookies from the oven.
Step 3: My Recipe and Let’s Bake Our Chocolate Chip Cookies
- 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (and an additional 1/2 flour reserve)
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon Maldon Sea Salt Flakes
- 8 oz of Kerry Irish Butter – unsalted
- 3/4 cup granulated white sugar
- 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon Nielsen-Massey Mexican Pure Vanilla extract
- 2 eggs
- 2 cups (12-ounce package) Guittard Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels
Set out your eggs and butter. The eggs should get to room temp and your butter should get soft. Wait thirty minutes or so then come back. Throw together the 2 1/4 cups of flour, baking soda, salt, sea salt flakes in a bowl, mix them up and set them aside.
Then put your softened butter in another bowl or mixer. Toss in both the sugars and the vanilla and mix it together. Mix until it’s nice and creamy. But don’t overmix. After that grab the eggs. Mix them in one at a time. If you’re using a mixer, be sure to push everything down to the center before adding the dry ingredients.
As you add the dry ingredients, go slow so that they mix well. Again, don’t overmix. Once you’ve added the dry mixture, take that 1/2 cup of reserved flour and slowly pour it in. You may not need all of it, so go slow. What you’re looking for is the dough to start pulling away from the sides of the bowl.
Lastly, add the chocolate chips. If you’re using a mixer, put it on low and only go for about 10 seconds. Then pull the bowl and mix the rest by hand. The mixture will sometimes break down the chips and then all of sudden you have chocolate colored dough. You don’t want that.
Step 4: Refrigerate Your Chocolate Chip Cookies
This is the hardest step to do because it means you put in all of that hard work and now you have to wait. But if you refrigerate your dough, the flavors will start to blend better and the cookie will have a better taste.
I pour mine into some parchment paper and wrap it up and toss in the fridge for 24-72 hours. Of course, I set aside some cookie dough for munching on. Now this is the part where I tell you not to eat anything with raw egg in it because you could get sick. So I’m just telling you that I eat the uncooked cookie dough at my own risk. Don’t sue me if you get sick.
Step 5: Bake Your Chocolate Chip Cookies
Set the oven to 375 degrees. Then take out your cookie sheet. An important note about cookies sheets. Use a lighter metal, don’t use that cookie sheet that’s blackened from fifteen years of use. A lighter metal cooking sheet absorbs and conducts the heat more evenly, giving the bottoms of your cookies a lighter brown coloring.
Having said that, if you use a darker pan, drop the temp to 350 degrees and watch the cookies more closely. I would take a minute or two off the baking time.
So your cookies bake evenly, you need to make sure that your dough is evenly placed on the sheet. Which means all balls need to be the same size. I use a 2 inch diameter ice cream scoop. I scoop it into the col dough and then drop it on the pan. What’s nice about large cold balls of dough is that they are slower to fall which makes the cookies thicker. And yes I noticed that I typed large cold balls. Moving on…
Put the cookies in the oven and set a timer for 5 minutes. At the end of the five minutes, rotate the cookies. Just turn the pan around. If you have two cookie sheets in at the same time, rotate the pans and switch the racks so that the one that was on the bottom is now on top and turned.
Then set your timer for another 4 minutes.
When you check on the cookies, you’re looking for browning around the edges and small spots of browning on the top. If it’s not there at 9 minutes, set your timer for another 60 seconds. But watch them closely. There is a short window between baked perfectly and over baked.
This is the kind of bottom you’ll see with the lighter pan.
Once they’re done, pull them out. You can either leave them on the cookie sheet to cool or use a cooling rack. I based my decision on how soft the center looks. Looks soft, then keep them in the pan. Seems done, then I’ll take them to a rack.
If you opted to put the Maldon salt in after, this is the part where you toss it on the top of the cookies. Just break it up in your fingers and drop it on the top of the cookie as it cools.
That’s it. Seems simple enough, right? Do you do anything differently with your cookies?