I'm a firm believer that the simple pleasures in life are the most satisfying, and a warm chocolate chip cookie (preferably with a glass of ice-cold milk) has to be one of life's greatest simple pleasures.

As a great lover of chocolate chip cookies, I am always amazed by the lack of good cookies, even in New York City. I've sampled many a bakery cookie and have been sorely disappointed. Generally speaking, it's because they are stale or too tough, but partly because I like homemade cookies so much that it annoys me to pay $3.00 (or more) for a cookie that's just average!

Thus, I've been experimenting for quite some time to develop what I believe to be the perfect chocolate chip cookie. Of course, this is all dependent on what you are looking for. I want a cookie that is crisp on the outside, gooey on the inside, with plenty of chocolate chips and walnuts. (Nuts in chocolate chip cookies are controversial I know, but I adore the extra flavor and texture they add. Brandon, another cookie junkie, refuses to eat chocolate chip cookies with nuts. Tant pis. You can certainly eliminate them from the recipe, or substitute pecans for walnuts.) I like the flavor to be rich—tasting of butter, brown sugar, and vanilla—with a slightly salty aftertaste. Just a hint, though—too much salt can ruin a cookie (as I've learned from experience).

My cookies were inspired years ago by a recipe I found in The Best Recipe, Cook’s Illustrated's cookbook. I love that they experiment and experiment until they get their desired result, and then explain WHY it turned out the way it did. Their recipe calls for one egg and one egg yolk, a trick that gives the cookie a richer flavor and a denser texture. They also call for more brown sugar than white, which gives a warmer, rounder sweetness than the brightness of white sugar. Over the years, I've continued to adapt the recipe to my taste. Sometimes I like using dark brown sugar or crunchy Demerara sugar to add extra depth of flavor. I add more vanilla than most recipes call for and as I mentioned above, a combination of salted and unsalted butter.

Most importantly, however, is what you do with the dough after you make it (besides eating it by the spoonful!). Chilling the dough for an hour or so allows it to set up (meaning it scoops easier) and cools the butter so the dough doesn’t spread on the cookie sheet. Ultimately, this step makes a cookie that is gooey on the inside and crisp on the outside: just what I love. Best of all, I’ve made these cookies so many times now that I don’t even need a recipe—I just make them from memory. So with no further ado, I present you with MY version of the Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie.