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Best Ever Chocolate Chip Cookies

Butter. Salt. Chocolate. Thin, crispy edges. Gooey, melty center.

These truly are the BEST. COOKIES. EVER. Seriously.

Though they take a little more time than “normal” chocolate chip cookies (a minimum overnight rest in the refrigerator), and have some slight quirks that depart from standard recipes (sprinkle of sea salt), these truly are the best chocolate chip cookies I have ever made. The overnight rest gives the butter and flour time to work together into the perfect texture, makes the sugars caramelize better as the cookies bake, and creates a deeper, richer flavor.

For chocolate, you could use the fancy fèves that the NY Times recommends, but I just use what I have on hand. Stick with dark and you’ll be all set.

These cookies provide the comfort level of your standard, run-of-the-mill Toll House version, but kick up the taste with a pinch of sea salt to finish. For salty-sweet lovers, these are the perfect dessert. And for those who are unsure, live a little. You’ll be glad you did (trust me on this – salted caramels have been known to convert many into believers).


Best Ever Chocolate Chip Cookies

Recipe from the NY Times


2 cups minus 2 tablespoons cake flour

1 2/3 cups bread flour

1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda

1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt

2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter

1 1/4 cups light brown sugar

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar

2 large eggs

2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract

1 1/2 bags dark chocolate disks or fèves, at least 60 percent cacao content (original recipe calls for 1 1/4 pounds. I just eyeball it)

Sea salt.


1. Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Set aside.

2. Cream butter and sugars together until very light, about 5 minutes (be patient – this is very important! Seriously – time it for 5 minutes). Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Add the vanilla. Add dry ingredients and mix until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds. Do not over-mix! Fold in chocolate bits to incorporate. Place dough in an airtight container and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours.

3. 24 HOURS LATER – Time to bake! Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Drop small balls of dough onto pan – I use a small ice cream scoop to keep mine even, but they should be about the size of small golf balls.

4. Bake for about 10 minutes, but watch closely! They get very dark, very fast right at the end. Your cookies may need to bake for a shorter or longer period of time – watch them until they are light golden on the edges and puffy in the center.

5. Let cool on the cookie sheet for about 7 to 10 minutes before transferring them to a wire rack.

6. Consume immediately for best results. Those edges won’t stay crispy for long!

Makes about 1 1/2 dozen 5-inch cookies.

Striped Shortbread

With Valentine’s day just around the corner, I’ve been trying to decide what to bake. Last year I went all out with the pink Italian rainbow cookies (yum!) so I knew I had to do something equally exciting. While these little shortbread cookies are far less complicated, I think they have just as much panache.  I used a couple different decorating styles – my favorite being the gradient of red sugar crystals seen above. I also made a version using white non-perils on the edges, which I thought looked a little like a polka dot border. So fun!


For the dough, I used my favorite lemon shortbread recipe, which I doubled and dyed half a pretty pink color. I thought the lemon was a nice touch, and I love the yellow of the little bits of zest peeking through the stripes.

To make the stripes, I took the pink dough and white dough and split both in half to make a total of 4 rounds. After resting them in the refrigerator for 2 hours, I rolled each out to about a quarter of an inch thick. I placed the four layers on top of one another, alternating the pink with the white. After they were all together, I gave a final roll to ensure they’d stick, then cut the whole sheet in half again. I then stacked those two pieces of dough together to make a total of eight stripes. One more roll for good measure, and it all went back in the refrigerator for a little longer.

I then sliced thin strips off of the larger piece, which got trimmed into their final shape. Before baking, I decorated the cookies with sprinkles which I think really added to how festive they look.


I think this technique would be really fun for many holidays and occasions, and most shortbread recipes should work. The key is to allow enough time to let the dough chill and rest between steps to preserve the stripes – they are my favorite part of the cookie! I’ve seen similar designs using chocolate and vanilla dough, but I think this color variation is graphic and modern – it would be perfect for a party or shower!

Favorite Lemon Shortbread

adapted from various sources

12 tbs unsalted butter

3/4 cup sugar

1 egg

2 1/4 cups flour

1/2 tsp vanilla

1/4 tsp salt

2 tsp baking powder

zest of three lemons


Beat the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add egg and beat to combine. Stir in vanilla and dry ingredients. Beat in lemon zest at the end, making sure that it is well distributed, but do not over mix the dough. Divide the dough in half and pat into two disks. Wrap with plastic wrap and chill for at least 1 hour. Roll and cut, or shape into a log and slice. Bake at 350 until just barely golden at the edges.

Tip: This dough freezes well. I suggest rolling it into a log shape and freezing until you’d like to use it – then it is very easy to just slice and bake. Also, the texture of the cookie will vary greatly depending on the thickness you cut/roll the dough. You can achieve a very crispy cookie by slicing a little thinner, or slightly soft and a little chewy by slicing a little thicker – completely up to you!


Italian Butter Cookies

The Italian butter cookie has changed my thoughts about what a good cookie should be.

Prior to these pretty little treats coming into my life, I really felt that the only good cookie was one that was chewy, included some sort of chocolate, and was generally over-the-top. I’ve never felt particularly inclined to eat crispy cookies, and frankly, ones filled with jelly just seemed a little too healthy to be delicious.

Well, I am now a convert. I spent last weekend on Long Island, surrounded by Italian cookies. I think their uniformity always scared me off a little, but they grew on me as I munched on them all weekend. By the time I returned home, about 5 pounds heavier thanks to my new cookie obsession, I had to figure out how to make them. (On a side note, I’ve decided that Italian baked goods are a dangerous breed of sweet for me to be exposed to – they are very curious, as I didn’t grow up with them, and seem to haunt me until I do my best to replicate them. Anyone remember the rainbow cookie obsession of winter 2010?)

Anyway, the cookie itself is made from a very basic dough, just flavored with a little vanilla. I wanted to start simple, but they came out so pretty that I’m already thinking of what my next variation will be (lemon? something a little herbal?) I used my cookie press to shape the dough, and baked them until just golden. They are filled with an organic, seedless raspberry jam – I used one that is sweetened only with fruit juice so as to not make these overly sugary – and then I dipped some in dark chocolate with sprinkles, and others just dusted with confectionery sugar.

Though the edges of the cookie came out a bit rough, and they aren’t exact replicas of the traditional shapes, I think they looked quite pretty all together on the plate.

They started off very crisp, but once filled with the jelly, they soften a bit. Leave some time to let these sit before dipping them in chocolate, or carrying them anywhere for that matter – the jelly sets up nicely with some patience, and won’t create a slippery mess when the cookies get eaten.


The general consensus was that these were light and yummy, but take that with a grain of salt – it was crowd of New Englanders judging them. I’ll have to get them in front of an Italian group for a true test. All I know is that this recipe will help me get through the seemingly long weeks until I can get back to New York.

Italian Butter Cookies

Adapted from various sources

1 cup unsalted butter, softened

3/4 cup sugar

1 egg

1 1/2 tsp vanilla

1/2 tsp baking powder

1/4 tsp salt

2 1/2 cups flour

seedless raspberry jam

dark chocolate



Beat butter and sugar until very light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. Add egg and vanilla, beat until combined. Add dry ingredients, mix until just combined.

Fill cookie press, and press out onto parchment-lined baking sheets. You could also use a pastry bag and star tip, which I think would give you a more traditional shape.

Bake at 350 for 10-12 minutes or until just golden. Let cool slightly on cookie sheets, then remove carefully and cool completely on wire rack

Mix jam with a spoon in a small bowl until it has a smooth consistency. Spread just a thin layer on one half of each cookie. Top with another cookie and let sit for a few hours. The cookies will soften and the jam will set.

Temper dark chocolate for dipping, or top the cookies with powdered sugar. Enjoy!

Brown Sugar Caramel Nut Bars

A shortbread base, filled with crunchy, toasted nuts and a brown sugar caramel, with a thin crispy top – yes please! The are my adaptation of a dream bar recipe that was given to me, but with no coconut, and nearly double the amount of nuts. The result is significantly less cloyingly sweet than the original, and has a nice depth of flavor from the toasted almonds, pecans and walnuts.

They are a slightly more elegant solution than the typical dream or 7-layer bar, and are great for large gatherings. They can be made the day ahead and then kept, covered, in the refrigerator overnight.

These bars are particularly difficult to cut when warm, or even at room temperature, so I recommend chilling them before slicing. They are a rich treat, so I usually cut them small and place them in cupcake liners for serving.

They also tend to look like they are ready to come out of the oven before they actually are – don’t let the toasty-dark crust on the top fool you. Cook them thoroughly or you’ll end up with an overly gooey mess. If you feel like the top is getting too dark, just place a piece of foil gently on top of the pan.

Brown Sugar Caramel Nut Bars

recipe adapted from a coworker

For the crust:

2/3 cup butter

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 1/2 cups flour

1/2 tsp salt

For the filling:

5 eggs

2 1/2 cups brown sugar

3 tbs flour

3/4 tsp baking powder

1/3 tsp salt

1 1/2 cups sliced almonds

3/4 cup chopped walnuts

1 cup chopped pecans


Preheat oven to 350. Combine the crust ingredients in a bowl and blend with a fork or pastry blender until crumbly. Press into a greased 9×13 inch pan to form an even layer. Bake for 15 – 18 minutes until just golden.

While the crust is baking, make the filling. Beat the eggs and brown sugar in a large bowl. Stir in flour, salt and baking powder, then all of the nuts. Pour over hot crust when it is ready. Return to the oven and bake for about 25 minutes – you will see the filling rise slightly and then form a golden crust. The bars are done when they feel slightly firm to the touch and don’t wiggle around when you gently shake the pan.

Cool completely, then refrigerate for easiest cutting.

Toasted Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies

Toasted coconut and semi-sweet chocolate? Yes please. These cookies are very much like a traditional chocolate chip cookie with rich brown sugar and butter flavor, but with the addition of toasted coconut they get wonderfully caramelized around the edges and take on a nutty taste. They look like an oatmeal cookie, but just get their bumpy appearance from all the coconut in them.

I had a stressful week, and apparently while some might enjoy relaxing or reading or something to settle down, I suffer from a severe baking addiction. Really. Running doesn’t seem to cut it and I can’t sit still until I have something delicious rising and turning golden in the oven. Yum! These cookies were the result of the desire for a cookie that was melty/chocolaty, and a timely overabundance of coconut in the cabinet. They ended up being something I will certainly make again – chewy and crispy, with the toasted coconut adding a little extra depth of flavor. And they are so easy – one bowl! Hard to beat that.

Toasted Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies

recipe adapted from many sources/ingredients available

1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted

1 egg

1/2 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup sugar

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/2 tsp vanilla

1 cup bread flour (I find this makes a chewier cookie – I’m sure all purpose flour would work fine if that is what you have)

1 cup coconut

1 cup toasted coconut (toast coconut in a 350 degree oven, stirring often, until golden brown)

1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350. Whisk egg and sugars in a bowl until pale and fluffy. Stir in melted butter and vanilla. Add in dry ingredients. Gently stir in coconut and chocolate chips.

Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour. Drop rounded teaspoonfuls on parchment lined baking sheets. Bake until golden around the edges. Let cool for a minute or two on the pan before moving to a cooling rack to cool completely.

*This is a half recipe that I made so I wouldn’t eat an entire batch. It should double just fine if you need more, but this made plenty to share at work.