I confess to being a pushover when someone suggests that a recipe ‘beats all others’. This may all be laid at the feet of Tyler Florence, whose 2006 “Tyler’s Ultimate” (Clarkson Potter) really did contain a phenomenal number of recipes that I go back to time and time again. So I listen up when someone like Rick Martinez of the Bon Appetit Magazine Test Kitchen puts their reputation on the line with a line like the one in our headline. Then of course, there’s my propensity to like any and all chocolate chip cookies. But Martinez takes the whole thing even further by declaring “This is truly the best cookie I have ever eaten”.
The recipe was submitted to Bon Appetit in Reader’s Choice Week contest. It’s from a reader named Kate Davis to whom we all owe a debt of gratitude. Ms. Davis has built on the taste strengths of the Chocolate Chip cookie—namely Chocolate and Caramel. Into the mix goes brown butter which is itself nutty and butterscotch-y. She reinforces the cookie’s caramel flavor with toffee. In the original, Ms. Davis used Skor Bars. Finding none, Andrew opted for Heath English Toffee bits which you can find next to the chocolate chips in the supermarket. We could not find the other key ingredient that makes this cookie so exceptional. The bittersweet chocolate disks that take the place of ordinary chocolate chips required a trip to Williams-Sonoma where we tracked down 55% cacoa disks and not the 72% percent cacoa Martinez used. But they had the same effect.
Martinez says he ‘never bake(s) cookies with anything but discs’ because “Unlike chunks or chips, they are thin and wide. When the cookies bake and the dough spreads, you will get thin layers of melted chocolate sandwiched between buttery warm cookie”. The icing on this particular cookie is the wonderful addition of Flaky Maldon Sea Salt which elevates the cookie even higher than it already is.
Interestingly, the woman responsible for the first Chocolate Chip cookie had no chocolate chips at all. Instead Ruth Graves Wakefield and Chef Sue Brides added chopped up bits from a Nestlé semi-sweet chocolate bar to her recipe for a butterscotch nut cookie. At the time, Chef Wakefield owned a restaurant famous for home cooking. That restaurant was the Toll House Inn in Whitman, Massachusetts. And the original recipe, which appeared in a cookbook called “Toll House Tried and True Recipes (1938) where they were called “Toll House Chocolate Crunch Cookies”. Here is Kate Davis’ recipe with Andrew’s substitutions of both Chocolate Disks and Heath English Toffee Bits.
Recipe for Brown Butter and Toffee Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
¾ teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
⅓ cup granulated sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 chocolate toffee bars, chopped into ¼-inch pieces (preferably Skor)
or 1 cup of Heath English Toffee Bits
1½ cups chocolate wafers (discs, pistoles, fèves; preferably 72% cacao)
Flaky sea salt
Cook butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring often, until butter foams, then browns, 5–8 minutes. Transfer brown butter to a large bowl; let cool slightly.
Whisk flour, baking soda, and kosher salt in a medium bowl.
Add brown sugar and granulated sugar to cooled butter. Using an electric mixer on medium speed, beat butter mixture, scraping down sides of bowl, until incorporated, about 1 minute. Add eggs and vanilla and continue to beat until mixture lightens and begins to thicken, about 30 seconds. Reduce mixer speed to low; add dry ingredients and beat, scraping down sides and bottom of bowl, until just combined.
Add candy and chocolate wafers and mix to combine with a spoon or spatula. Let sit at room temperature at least 30 minutes to hydrate flour; dough will look very loose but will thicken as it sits.
Arrange a rack in center of oven; preheat to 375°. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Using a 1½-oz. ice cream scoop, portion dough and transfer to prepared sheet, spacing about 3½” apart (alternatively, form dough into ping pong ball-sized pieces with your hands). Do not flatten; cookies will spread as they bake. Sprinkle with sea salt.
Bake cookies until edges are golden brown and firm but centers are soft, 9–11 minutes. Let cool on sheets 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.
Do Ahead: Cookie dough can be made 3 days ahead; cover and chill. Let dough come to room temperature before baking.