David Leite’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

Say hello to the chocolate chip cookie recipe that started an Internet craze and made bakers rethink how to make cookies. They originally appeared in the July 9, 2008 edition of the New York Times in an article written by our Fearless Leader, David Leite. What makes them so damn special is the dough is refrigerated for 24 to 36 hours for a more complex flavor and greater variation in texture. Sea salt is the finishing touch.

Seven of David Leite's chocolate chip cookies cooling on wire racks

Are these chocolate chip cookies the ultimate, unsurpassed, perfect specimen? The consensus is yes. But, hey, don’t take our word for it. Bake them for yourself.–David Leite

A close up shot of a few of David Leite's chocolate chip cookies on a wire cooling rack
An empty parchment-lined baking sheet with a chocolate-smeared spatula resting on it

Video

David Leite’s Chocolate Chip Cookies

Seven of David Leite's chocolate chip cookies cooling on wire racks
Say hello to the chocolate chip cookie recipe that started an Internet craze and made bakers rethink how to make cookies. They originally appeared in the July 9, 2008 edition of the New York Times in an article written by our Fearless Leader, David Leite. What makes them so damn special is the dough is refrigerated for 24 to 36 hours for a more complex flavor and greater variation in texture. Sea salt is the finishing touch.
David Leite

Prep 15 mins
Cook 20 mins
Total 1 d 12 hrs
Dessert
American
18 servings
520 kcal
4.95 / 89 votes
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Ingredients 

  • 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 kosher salt
  • 2 1/2 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 1/4 cups light brown sugar
  • 1 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 pounds bittersweet chocolate discs or Valrhona fèves at least 60 percent cacao content
  • Sea salt

Directions
 

  • Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder and kosher salt into a bowl. Set aside.
  • Using a stand mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars together until very light, about 5 minutes. 
  • Add the eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. 
  • Reduce speed to low, add the flour mixture and mix until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds. 
  • Drop the chocolate chunks in and incorporate them without breaking them. You may have to do this by hand with a spatula. 
  • Press plastic wrap against dough and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours. (I vote 36 hours.) Dough may be used in batches, and can be refrigerated for up to 72 hours.

    TESTER TIP: To make handling the dough easier, you can form the dough into balls now and refrigerate in a resealable plastic bag.

  • When you’re ready to bake, fire up the oven to 350° (176°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Set aside.
  • Scoop six 3 1/2-ounce mounds of dough (the size of generous golf balls) onto a baking sheet, making sure to turn horizontally any chocolate pieces that are poking up; it will make for a more attractive cookie. You can also freeze the balls in a resealable plastic bag.) Sprinkle lightly with sea salt.
  • Bake the cookies until golden brown but still soft, 18 to 20 minutes. You’ll know the cookies are done when the tops have the caramel folds of a Shar Pei. 
  • Transfer sheet to a wire rack for 10 minutes, then slip cookies onto another wire rack to cool a bit more. Repeat with the remaining dough. Eat warm, with a big napkin.
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Notes

How To Make Gluten-Free Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies

Lusting after these cookies but groaning and bemoaning over being gluten-free? Dry your tears and try Shauna James Ahern’s gluten-free version of the cookies. If only we could fix all your problems so easily!

Show Nutrition

Serving: 1cookieCalories: 520kcal (26%)Carbohydrates: 73g (24%)Protein: 7g (14%)Fat: 25g (38%)Saturated Fat: 15g (94%)Polyunsaturated Fat: 1gMonounsaturated Fat: 7gTrans Fat: 1gCholesterol: 54mg (18%)Sodium: 290mg (13%)Potassium: 196mg (6%)Fiber: 3g (13%)Sugar: 42g (47%)Vitamin A: 423IU (8%)Calcium: 48mg (5%)Iron: 1mg (6%)

Recipe Testers’ Reviews

I’ve searched high and low for several years trying to find the greatest chocolate chip cookie recipe. Thankfully, David Leite has done the footwork for us. I’ve made this recipe several times now, and the very first time I made it, I knew I had encountered some otherworldly magic.

This chocolate chip cookie is THE cookie against which all cookies should be measured. I’ve made these to impress friends and colleagues and even to help me woo my new wife. When you give these cookies to friends or family, expect EVERY comment to be overwhelmingly positive. Every single person who has tried one of these cookies has had the same reaction: “OMG! This is the best cookie EVER!”

When I make this recipe exactly as it’s written, it makes huge 3 1/2 ounce cookies—just 1 perfect cookie per person is a great dessert, nothing more needed.

Exactly one month ago, I made these cookies for my annual Christmas cookie exchange at my friend Anita’s in Cincinnati. I started by making 40 pounds of cookie dough. (I decided to make 1 1/2 ounce cookies, which are a normal size. I had to adjust the baking time because the cookies were less than half the size the recipe called for. Exactly 13 minutes at 350ºF worked perfectly. My yield was between 40 and 42 cookies per batch.) Needless to say, I won the cookie exchange. I made far more dough than was needed, so I divided the leftover dough into 1-pound batches, rolled the dough into 12-inch logs, and tightly wrapped them in plastic wrap. Next, I filled 1-gallon resealable plastic bags with the cookie logs, forcing the air out, and stacked the logs in the freezer. The cookies I made with the frozen dough tonight are as perfect as the cookies I made from the unfrozen dough a month ago.

On a final note, the cookies are wonderful warm, but they’re delicious a few days later, cold. I promise you, if you make these cookies, you’ll soon find yourself referring to them as “My Cookies.”

I will go to this chocolate chip cookie recipe again and again because these are the best I have ever baked. I had some fleur de sel I used to sprinkle on the top. This sure did bring out the sweetness of this ultimate cookie! Nice and gooey right out of the oven. Of course, this is the only way to have them. Yum….Thanks, David.

I rarely give a recipe a 10, but having made this chocolate chip cookie recipe for the last 6 years, literally hundreds of times, I can say above and beyond all other recipes, this one deserves a 10. This is my tried-and-true, fail-safe, go-to, wow-them cookie recipe.

But last month, to my shock and horror, my batch of these cookies spread out thin and did not have the same amazing texture as all the previous batches. Baffled, I made them again with the same poor results. Truly a crisis! I sent out a 911 email to my fellow Leite’s Culinaria recipe testers. After confirming I was using the same brand of chocolate, flour, and butter as always, David Leite asked me to call him. David went through each ingredient and asked a lot of questions, about my scale, my ingredients, including was my baking powder still good (who knew you could test your baking powder by adding a spoonful to hot water, if it fizzes it is good), and everything was fine. He then picked up on the fact I keep my huge Sam’s Club bag of flour in the garage. With the current heavy rains and humidity, it had definitely picked up moisture. He then explained how if my flour had added moisture and I am weighing my flour, I was not only adding less flour than intended (part of the weight is water weight), but I was adding undesired water to my dough. I purchased new flour that I now store inside the house and attempted the recipe again. Perfection.

Thank you, David, and all the testers who continually help me improve. Hope this information helps someone else.

Originally published May 22, 2009

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Comments

  1. 5 stars
    David, I am just another happy baker reporting back on these excellent cookies. Kudos to you on this recipe. These were devoured straight off the cooling rack, by a large group of friends staying together in a vacation rental, pretty much as fast as they came out of the oven. Since people (especially my husband) generally break my “Let it cool” rule anyway, these were a giant hit.

    I used part See’s Candies semi-sweet chocolate chips (which are very large and flat, very close to the discs/feves, and my favorite for cookies) and part 72% couverture discs. I made a double batch and still have dough in the freezer. I am hoping I can use it in a week. Have you ever frozen this dough?

    1. Rachel, so happy to hear they turned out well. It is a crowd-pleasing cookie. I have frozen the dough, and, for me, it loses something. The texture is off—more like those frozen slice-and-bake cookies. I’d love to hear your thoughts.

  2. I am in tears over how delicious this recipe looks and sounds. We have to eat gluten-free and wondered if anyone had come up with GF flour alternatives.

  3. I don’t know what I am doing wrong 🙁

    I followed the recipe exactly and substituted no ingredients. On the night I made the dough, I baked off just two cookies, and they turned out light, fluffy, and delicious–the best cookie I’ve ever had.

    Then I chilled the rest for 48 hours, scooped out very big generous golf ball rounds, plopped them onto parchment paper, stuck them in the 350 degree oven, yet when they came out, the whole cookie was basically crispy, and they did not expand as wide as yours (no ‘strata’ were achieved!)

    Do the balls on the baking sheet need to come to room temp before baking?! Did I just overbake them by a minute? I’m saddened that the pre-chilled-cookies were better than the post-chilled ones!

    1. A few things could be going on. First, if your fridge is really cold, yes, the cookies won’t bake properly. They won’t spread as wide, but, that said, the centers would be under-baked. So I theorize that if your cookies were both small in diameter and completely crispy, then the dough was too cold and you over-baked them. I suggest forming the balls of dough, let them sit for 10 or even 15 minutes on the cookie sheet and bake them for just the minimum time stated in the recipe.

      Also, if you don’t have an oven thermometer, I’d invest in one. Your oven could be running hot.

      1. Thanks for the tips DL- I had the same problem with the cookies coming out very crispy, and when I took the dough out of the fridge it was SO hard I could not scoop it to save my life, I had to let it sit out for a few hours.

        They tasted fantastic though and got lots of compliments, and a few slices of bread in the container with the cookies softened them right up.

        I will definitely try them again and keep a close eye on the temp in both the fridge and the oven (unfortunately both are ancient and not terribly reliable).

  4. 5 stars
    David, you were so right. My son came over the next day, he took a cookie and said, “They are better today.” I laughed. Bakers, listen to David when he tells you to wait. Thanks again.

      1. Thank you very much for sharing your recipes… I tried and the cookies are superbly nice. I also can’t wait to bake the cookies. Store in fridge less than 12 hours… Next round baking will store it 36 hours.

        Best website for recipes!!

        1. Why, Andrea, thank you very much. I think you’ll see a difference in flavor. I held a blind tasting, and all my guinea pigs’s favorites correlaeted to resting time: 36 hours was their top pick; 24 hours was their next choice; and 12 hours was last.

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