The Surprising Ingredient For Better Chocolate Chip Cookies

Our food editor has tried them all, and she's got opinions.

Chocolate Chip Cookies
Photo: Beth Dreiling Hontzas; Styling: Rose Nguyen. Photo: Beth Dreiling Hontzas; Styling: Rose Nguyen

I consider myself a chocolate chip cookie connoisseur. I've rarely had a bad chocolate chip cookie, but there is a world of difference between an everyday cookie and an extraordinary one. Whenever I visit a new bakery, it's the first thing I look for, and usually determines whether or not I go back.

To me, a perfect chocolate chip cookie is golden and shatteringly crisp around the edges, with tender, chewy, almost underbaked centers. I like a sprinkling of flaky salt on top to offset the cookie's sweetness and buttery richness. And most importantly, there should be large, gooey pockets of chocolate throughout the entire thing. Good chocolate chip cookies require napkins and finger licking.

And they are usually not made with chocolate chips.

Shocking, I know! After much taste testing, I realized what set my favorite cookies apart from the rest. They are made with chopped chocolate bars or féves, which are large, flat discs of chocolate. These two ingredients both act differently in a chocolate chip cookie, but achieve the same effect. The shards of chopped chocolate spread throughout the cookie; the thin shards fleck the dough with chocolate, and the thick shards melt into rivers of chocolate. The féves, because of their shape, create large, uneven puddles of chocolate.

WATCH: Barbara Bush's Famous Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe

The key word is "uneven." I like getting a little something different in every bite—it keeps things interesting. Maybe one bite is pure chocolate, the next bite is cookie with a piece of flaky salt, and the next is equal parts cookie and chocolate. Chocolate chips tend to spread evenly throughout the batter, giving you cookies that are studded with pieces of chocolate, rather than those luscious, melty pools.

While féves can be hard to come by (look for them at Fresh Market, Whole Foods, or on Amazon), a chocolate bar is easy to find. Use a chef's knife to chop it up into uneven shards and stir it into the batter, as you would chocolate chips.

Try this trick yourself and you'll turn into a certified cookie snob too.

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