The other day my friend Anna sent me a recipe for chocolate chip cookies. I filed it under “Things I Want to Make Soon, but First I Have to Make Everything Else I Have Planned.”
Then I saw her Saturday for brunch and she asked me if I’d make the cookies yet. I said no, and she told me that when she made them, her boyfriend ate them all himself in less than a week. That was enough endorsement for me.
I made the dough for these cookies last night and then woke up at 6 this morning to bake them. There are few things that would get me out of bed that early in the morning, and these cookies are one of them.
I would venture to say that these are some of the softest chocolate chip cookies I’ve ever had, and I’ve tried A LOT of chocolate chip cookies. Part of this comes from the baking process. You make the dough, set it in the refrigerator overnight, and then bake the cookies the next day. Ironically, putting the dough in the fridge creates softer cookies with more gooey centers.
The other reason these cookies might be softer than usual is because of a weird addition: Instant vanilla pudding. When I first saw that in the recipe, I did a double-take. It freaked me out. I’ve never heard of adding instant anything to chocolate chip cookies.
I’m not going to lie to you: I don’t think chocolate chip cookies NEED instant vanilla pudding to be soft, gooey, or delicious. In fact, a couple recipes I’ve tried don’t call for this and they’re just as good, if not better. But I think these cookies do use the pudding mix in their favor. For lack of a better description, the pudding is the glue that holds the cookies together. It makes them soft and fluffy.
So yeah. If you’re looking for a good recipe for soft, salted chocolate chip cookies, this is the one for you. If you want something more dense and compact, check out this recipe for salted shortbread chocolate chip cookies. I made them a few weeks ago and they’re equally delicious.
Here’s a song I’ve been jamming out to. It doesn’t have to do with these cookies, but it’s still pretty great.
The Softest Chocolate Chip Cookies with Sea Salt (slightly adapted from Averie Cooks)
3/4 cup unsalted butter, softened (1 1/2 sticks)
3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 3.5-oz packet instant vanilla pudding mix (not sugar-free and not ‘cook & serve’)
1 tsp baking soda
generous pinch of Maldon sea salt, plus more for sprinkling
1 12-oz bag semi-sweet chocolate chips
Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.
Beat the butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar, egg, and vanilla extract together in a stand mixer on medium-high speed until light and creamy. This will take about 5 minutes.
Add the flour, vanilla pudding mix, baking soda, and pinch of sea salt. Mix on low speed until just combined. Then add the bag of chocolate chips and mix again until just combined.
Using a 1/4 measuring cup or a large cookie scoop, form the dough into balls, rolling in your hands. Place the balls on the prepared baking sheet, with no more than eight balls on every sheet. Flatten the balls slightly with your palm. Cover the baking sheets with plastic wrap and place in the fridge for at least two hours or overnight.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bake the cookies for about 15 minutes, or until the edges and center are set. The centers should be slightly glossy. The cookies will firm up as they cool.
Remove from the oven and sprinkle with sea salt. Let the cookies cool on the baking sheet. These will keep for about a week in an airtight container. Enjoy!