Why Chocolate Chips Ruin Chocolate Chip Cookies

Step away from the bagged chips and pick up a knife.
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By David Tamarkin

Step away from the bagged chips and pick up a knife.

Photo: Romulo Yanes

I stand behind every tip in our 7 Ways to Upgrade Your Chocolate Chip Cookies story. Every tip except for one.

"Chopped chocolate is not an upgrade," I exclaimed yesterday, when my incredulity finally got the better of me. "That's, like, a necessity."

Because who actually uses chips in their chocolate chip cookies? Who in their right mind would do such a thing, when bars of good quality chocolate are everywhere, ready to be chopped and stirred into dough?

The rebuttals were swift. Chelsea, our Photo Editor, said she never uses chopped chocolate. "I just dump in the bag of chips," she said. (She didn't even seem ashamed!) Meanwhile, Anna, our Associate Food Editor, admitted an allegiance to the milk chocolate chips from Ghirardelli.

I was not swayed. For me, a chocolate chip cookie made with chocolate chips is a waste of butter. It's also boring. And not delicious. And definitely not worthy of the chocolate chip cookie's name.

The chips retain their pointy edges, sticking out of a cookie's top like circling sharks.

My reasoning is based in hard, cold science. Chocolate chips have been engineered not to melt. Instead, the chips retain their pointy edges through the baking process, sticking out of a cookie's top like circling sharks.

They sit neatly spaced out from each other, so that you get 1.5 chips in every bite. Go ahead, try it: Take a bite of a cookie made with chips. Now take another. Tastes exactly the same right? Now take another...oh look, you've fallen asleep.

Use random chunks of chocolate and your cookie will sport a mosaic of misshaped chocolate puddles. The chocolate might form a huge lake in the center of the cookie. Or it might form three perfectly-spaced pockets of chocolate across the cookie's surface. Some cookies will have less chocolate; some so much that they hardly stay together. Do you see what I'm saying here? With chopped chocolate, anything--literally anything--can happen.

And don't get me started on quality. To use chopped chocolate is to relinquish a bit of control in how the cookie looks, but to gain control of the type of chocolate you stir into the dough. All percentages of chocolate are available to you, as is any chocolate bar. A chocolate bar with almonds. With toffee. With, um, peaches and pecans? Hey, if you're using chopped chocolate, I won't judge.

"But chopping chocolate is messy," one of my co-workers--I won't embarrass her by revealing her name--said.

"But chocolate chips give texture," said another.

I just barely respect these arguments enough to respond. Chopping chocolate takes all of five minutes. (And guess what? I take the extra 3-minute step of piling the chopped chocolate into a colander and shaking out the tiniest shards, which in my opinion compromise the integrity of a cookie's appearance.) And if it's texture you want, grab some nuts. Get some cereal. Throw some cornflakes in there. Or just bake the hell out of those cookies, making them a crunchy as you can handle. Let them get a little black on the edges, even. You can't ruin something as amazing as a chocolate chip cookie. Except, you know, by using chocolate chips.

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