When it comes to chocolate chip cookies, I must admit that I’m a bit of an expert. After releasing my debut cookbook, “Basic Bitchen,” my own chocolate chip cookies were, by far, the most popular and shared recipe to emerge from the book. They’re big, they’re fluffy, they’re slightly salty and, most importantly, they’re soft and gooey with a delightfully crisp shell.
Baking homemade chocolate chip cookies is quite simple, but not simple enough for many Americans who rely on pre-mixed box kits to satisfy a sudden sweet craving. These flour, sugar and chocolate chip blends typically require just a stick of softened butter and an egg before they’re ready to be mixed into dough, rolled out and placed into the oven.
Admittedly, it may be our instinct to call this type of baking “lazy,” but many box kits are actually quite delicious. In fact, most may even rival your grandma’s famous recipe or — dare I say it — my own.
We put five popular mixes to the test to figure out which yielded the softest, chewiest, gooiest, melt-in-your-mouth cookie. There is a time and place for super crispy cookies, but not in this round-up.
Here’s how the cookies crumbled in terms of texture, including how they ranked in taste:
5. Betty Crocker Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix (#2 in taste)
What these lacked in soft texture, they made up for in flavor. Like the brownie taste test we conducted a couple weeks ago, ranking these box kits was like splitting hairs. Not a single product disappointed us, but these did tend to spread a bit while baking, resulting in crunchy edges. This wasn’t a bad thing, though, and likely a preference for many people. But if you’re a soft cookie connoisseur, you may feel a bit underwhelmed by the unbalanced mouthfeel (unless you eat them hot and right out of the oven). The taste is wonderful, though — classic, cake-like and not overwhelmingly sweet. If you’re in a pinch, dunk one (or four if we’re being honest) in a glass of milk and indulge.
4. Annie’s Organic Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix (#3 in taste)
There is something about Annie’s baked goods that is delightfully buttery. These cookies (like the brownies, which ranked No. 1 in taste) almost oozed an oily richness with every bite. But because of the butter content, they (like Betty Crocker) were also a bit too crisp for our liking. You can always undercook them to keep them softer, but then you’re likely to have chips that don’t melt completely and that’s simply not an option. Annie’s gets two major thumbs up for using only organic ingredients, though. They’re practically a health food!* (*They’re not, in fact, a health food.)
3. Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate Chip Premium Cookie Mix (#4 in taste)
Ghirardelli makes a solid cookie — nothing less, nothing more. And while I give the brand a shout in my cookbook for its decadently smooth and rich milk chocolate chips (my absolute favorite to bake with), I’m still not entirely on board with its dark chocolate. It was just a touch too bitter (though this dozen was countered by the taste of vanilla to provide a more harmonious balance between cookie and chocolate). These will certainly satisfy any craving, though, so I won’t even pretend like I’d turn my nose up at them if they were served to me on any day and on any occasion.
2. Foodstir’s Organic Chocolate Chippy Cookie Mix (#5 in taste)
While these “healthier” cookies boasted a ridiculously soft texture, they tasted a bit inferior when compared to other contenders. That is likely because they have 25% less sugar than most mainstream brands, and they certainly tasted that way. Sure, the gesture to cut back on sweetness was appreciated, but these are geared more towards midweek splurges and not weekends when we’re committed to indulging. Go big or go home, we say, but definitely keep these on standby for emergencies.
1. Miss Jones Baking Co. Sea Salt Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix (#1 in taste)
Pardon me, Miss Jones, but you make a darn good organic cookie. Not only did these take top honors in softness, but also taste, earning high marks and unanimous praise from everyone who sampled them. The darker hue can be attributed to the higher brown sugar content, which locks in moisture with the presence of molasses and thereby creates a soft, gooey cookie. This also made them taste somewhat caramel-y, which paired beautifully with the wheat-forward notes of their pastry flour blend. If we’re being entirely honest, for a cookie that advertised itself with sea salt, we couldn’t taste much of it (that award goes to Foodstir’s), but they were so delicious that not a single person minded.