A Holy Grail: How to Make the Entenmann’s Chocolate Chip Cookie at Home, or, Ok, it’s not EXACTLY the same but it is damned close

As a child, we almost never made cookies from scratch. My aunt taught me how to make something called Chocolate Pinks (chocolate cookies with pink frosting) that we found in a cookbook (I should Google it and try to figure out where it came from, and make them again and see if they’re any good). My brother used to make chocolate chip cookies sometimes. But 99% of our cooky consumption was store-bought boxed or bagged cookies. Some of them were wonderful and some of them were pretty crappy but we loved them anyway and some of them we bought and then hardly ever or never got again because they were so uninteresting.

The Platonic ideal of the chocolate chip cookie was the Entenmann’s chocolate chip cooky. They were small, soft, generous with the chocolate chips, and had a real, genuine brown sugar taste and texture to them. They were wonderful. My brother and I could eat an entire boxful in one sitting. But they were expensive, as store-bought cookies went (and go today), and so they were a once-in-a-while treat.

I’ve long wished I could just live on Entenmann’s chocolate chip cookies. In recent years it’s occurred to me, I’m a good enough baker now, I could maybe try to make cookies that good on my own. But I never thought hard about it. To be honest, I just didn’t believe it was possible. But the other day I decided to give it a roll. I Googled “soft chocolate chip cookies” or something like that and scrolled around a bit and eventually I landed on a website that had a cooky recipe titled “The Best Soft Chocolate Chip Cookie.” The photos — of which there were many — did indeed look more or less like Entenmann’s chocolate chip cookies. So I took out a stick of butter and an egg and did some thinking.

The list of ingredients was this:

  • 8 tablespoons of salted butter
  • ½ cup white sugar (I like to use raw cane sugar with a coarser texture)
  • ¼ cup packed light brown sugar — I used 1/2 cup brown sugar, which was a big deal I think.
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 1½ cups all purpose flour (more as needed – see video)
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt (but I always add a little extra)
  • ¾ cup chocolate chips (I use a combination of chocolate chips and chocolate chunks)

What you do is, you preheat the oven to 350°, and you set up a couple of baking trays with parchment paper. Then you soften the butter so it’s almost liquid, and you cream the butter with the sugars in your mixer (or do it by hand, whatever, I don’t care). I used 1/4 more brown sugar than the original recipe called for, which I think was a significant change — I really wanted that brown sugar taste to be strong. Add the egg (I used an extra-large egg) and the vanilla. The original writer says that if you beat this for too long it toughens the egg and makes for a stiff cooky; I have no idea if this is true, but I’m reporting it just in case.

Then you mix in quickly and completely the dry ingredients, which you’ve whisked together (the flour, baking soda, and the salt). Then you add the chocolate chips. The dough will be a very soft, cohesive blob in the mixing bowl.

Take the dough by the teaspoonful in your hand and roll nice little balls. Put the balls on the baking sheet about an inch apart from each other, and press them down ever so slightly to flatten the tops a tiny bit. Bake these cookies for about ten minutes. The tops should look dry, but alarmingly close to uncooked. You will think, “Damn, these are still raw.” Nothing should be golden brown — you know how some cooky recipes say “bake till edges are golden brown”? Sometimes, that’s a good thing, that’s what you want. In the case of the soft chocolate chip cooky, it means you have gone too far and have made a cooky that will not be soft or chewy once it’s cooled. It means you have wasted your time and effort and ingredients. We will not discuss it further.

Let the cookies set on the baking tray for a few minutes to cool before you transfer them with a spatula to a baking rack. You can eat them now that they’re not scalding hot, the chips will remains melty for a while yet.

These are without any doubt in my mind the best chocolate chip cookies I have ever made. My husband, who is not a worshipper of the Entenmann’s chocolate cooky, but knows it well, said that it was absolutely clear these were the best possible approximation of the Entenmann’s cooky as could be produced by a home baker. I baked two dozen of these cookies (the original recipe, which tells you to make the cookies big, produces between 9 and 12 cookies, according to the author) and they lasted all of two days. Writing about them right now, I wish I had about five of them to eat all by myself, and I would make more, except I made a chocolate cake yesterday and I’ve got to be responsible about these things.
But as soon as the cake is gone, I’ll be making more cookies.

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