Some former treats have lost their luster now that we’ve been in quarantine for over a month—re-watching a favorite TV show for the tenth time, the satisfaction of cleaning a sink full of dishes, the false comfort of sweatpants (just me?). But one thing that’s been just as wonderful, isolated or not, is chocolate chip cookies. Banana bread and sourdough are ubiquitous on Instagram, but in a time when so much is unknown, there’s no greater comfort than a dependable chocolate chip cookie recipe. With a simple list of ingredients (that does not include elusive yeast), cookies are a breeze to make. But mine also have a secret, and it works no matter which recipe of the gazillion or so available on the internet you like best.
This cookie’s G.O.A.T. status has been confirmed by the people who live in my building (regular recipients of my baked goods now that I can’t drop them at the office). My doorman said these CCCs were “the best thing he’s ever eaten.” My husband said he never wants to eat another cookie again. My neighbor was so wild with enthusiasm she could hardly maintain a six-foot distance. And it’s all thanks to one small edit. And I mean small.
Chocolate chip cookies are, in general, un-screw-up-able. But each of us has our favorite rendition, and for a long time, I used a tried-and-true recipe from baking guru, Dorie Greenspan. (Here’s the recipe that I use, an update on an older classic.) For years, I have followed Dorie’s instructions, sticking to the ingredients and steps without the slightest departure.
But when I braved the outside world to get groceries for the first time in weeks since the coronavirus slammed New York, the local Whole Foods was out of one of the most ingredients in Greenspan’s cookie—a 10-ounce bar of semisweet chocolate.
Dorie Greenspan asks that the bar be coarsely chopped because—as far as she, David Leite, everyone at Bon Appétit, and the old me was concerned—the more chocolate distributed throughout the cookies, the better. True chocolate chip cookie connoisseurs like Greenspan insist on chopped chocolate (as opposed to chips) for maximum melted chocolate goodness. I used to be one of them. Cookies, I felt, were mere vessels for shoveling bittersweet globs of chocolate into my mouth.
Which is just one reason I’ve never been one to pick up mini chips—especially if they look like this package from Enjoy Life, which I at first mistook for a sugar substitute. But on that day, it was the only option left in the entire store, so I grabbed the minis and went home to immediately make Dorie’s never-failed-me-once cookies.
I was worried about what the slight change in chocolate would do to her masterpiece, but what came out was, hands down, the greatest-tasting cookies of all time. I prefer mine soft and chewy—as opposed to flat and crunchy (lookin’ at you, Tate’s)—and these were the softest, chewiest cookies the world (or, the residents of my apartment building) has ever seen.
I won’t pretend these mini-chip cookies are the ones that will be most popular on Instagram. There’s no slow-motion melt; no crags of chocolate poking out from bronzed dough. But I’m not baking for optics in quarantine and these are absolutely picture-perfect in terms of taste, texture, and pure goodness. With the mini chips, the cookies feel more balanced. You can better taste the insanely delicious dough that I’d eat without the chocolate (the coriander! the nutmeg!). Even the next day, having sat out on my counter uncovered, they were melt-in-your-mouth pillowy. (I know it’s not appropriate to leave dessert out uncovered, but sometimes the stress bake hits at 11 p.m. and you’re too lazy to put anything away afterward.)
Maybe it’s scientific baking nonsense that I don’t understand, but this teeny tiny tweak made all the difference to an already incredible cookie. I’ve thought long and hard about why, but in the end, it really doesn’t matter because it’s all about finding joy in the little things right now—and sometimes that means literally the littlest of things. For me, it’s 10 ounces of mini chocolate chips. When things go back to normal and I have access to all the “right” ingredients, will I go back to big bars of chocolate, or will I stick to the minis? Only time will tell. But, for right now, they’re the most perfect cookies I could possibly hope for.
Shanna Shipin is the commerce editor at Glamour. Follow her @shannashipin.