march madness: chocolate chip cookie edition

Happy national championship game day!  WOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!! Let’s go Heels!!! Can you tell I’m a little excited? Let’s celebrate with a chocolate chip cookie…or ten.

Chocolate chip cookie March madness

Will and I were talking about how poorly our years in school lined up with our teams’ basketball national championship years.  UNC won the national championship our junior year of high school, Duke won our senior year of high school.  Duke won the first year we were out of college and now UNC is in the championship game our second year out of college.  Why were we in college the four dry years in between all of those championship games?  Why?

Growing up in North Carolina, the NCAA basketball tournament was always a big deal.  Everyone and their mother fills out a bracket for multiple challenges with friends, families and coworkers.  In middle school I remember watching NCAA basketball tournament games in science class.   In our high school years, before smartphones were around, some students would carry radios in their pockets and backpacks to listen to the game between class changes or with a headphone in one ear during class.  Back then Wake Forest, NC State, Duke and UNC all usually made the tournament and, with so many North Carolina basketball teams typically in the tournament, there was inevitably always some local team to watch.

Chocolate chip cookie March madness

Throughout the tournament I have been making different types of chocolate chip cookie recipes.  Friends and family have tested different cookies and helped determine advances in the bracket with their opinions and votes.  There are 10 different types of chocolate chip cookies vying for a spot in the national championship of the chocolate chip cookie tournament, and you can help decide the winner!  Here are the cookie competitors:

1| The Herings’ Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookies (these are the cookies my family always made growing up and the one’s I am known for amongst friends)
2| How Sweet It Is’ Brown Butter Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
3| Joy the Baker’s Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies
4| Levain Bakery’s Chocolate Chip Cookies
5| Ovenly’s Secretly Vegan Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies
6| New York Times’/Jaques Torres’ Famous Chocolate Chip Cookies
7| Ambitious Kitchen’s Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookies
8| Ambitious Kitchen’s Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookies
9| Not Without Salt’s Sea Salt Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies
10| The Herings’ Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies with Brown Butter, Dark Chocolate and Pecans (a twist on the original), recipe below!

Chocolate chip cookie March madness

Chocolate chip cookie March madness

Chocolate chip cookie March madness

I have a winner for different categories of the challenge (think regions), but we there isn’t a clear tournament champion yet.  If you have ever made any of these recipes, or better yet, multiple of these recipes, I want to know what you think!  Which is your favorite?  And if you haven’t made any of them but want to try the top choices, bake up a few batches, call up some friends, and let me know your thoughts!  Not Without Salt even sells her famous cookies in a mix, so you don’t even have to bake from scratch if that’s not your thing.

Chocolate chip cookie March madness

Chocolate chip cookie March madness

I want to preface this by saying that these were all delicious.  We could taste a difference in each cookie, but I think all of the taste testers can back me up when I say that, while we may have our own favorites, there isn’t one of these cookies that we would turn down.  It was for this reason, in part that we don’t have a clear winner, but we have favorites among categories.  Even with categories, it still depends on your preferences for taste, texture, and nuances like puffy vs. flat, chocolate chunks vs. chocolate chips, sea salt vs. no sea salt, etc.  But without further ado, I give you our favorites for each category (ehm, region).  Happy March madness, chocolate chip cookie edition!

Best brown butter chocolate chip cookie:  Joy the Baker’s Brown Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies

Best twist on the classic chocolate chip cookie: Not Without Salt’s Sea Salt Dark Chocolate Chip Cookies

Best oatmeal chocolate chip cookie:  The Herings’ Original Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookie or The Herings’ Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookie with Brown Butter, Dark Chocolate and Pecans

Best alternative diet chocolate chip cookie:  Ambitious Kitchen’s Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate chip cookie March madness

Let me know your vote!  And GO HEELS! :)  (The cookies in the picture above are the Levain cookies.)

Brown Butter Oatmeal Dark Chocolate Chip Pecan Cookies

½ cup butter
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 ¼ cups oatmeal
1 cup flour
½ teaspoon baking soda
½ teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
6 ounces dark chocolate, chopped, or 1 cup dark chocolate chips
½ cup pecan pieces

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheets with parchment paper and set aside.

Over medium heat melt 12 tablespoons of the butter in a small saucepan. The butter will bubble and pop. Continue to cook the butter, swirling the pan occasionally, until the crackling noises stop. Once the butter stops popping swirl continuously until brown bits begin to form at the bottom of the pan. After about 2-3 minutes, once the bits become amber, remove the butter from the heat and stir in the rest of the butter until it is melted. Pour the butter into a bowl to cool. The butter does not need to harden, but it does need to be cool to the touch before you use it in the recipe.

While you wait for the butter to cool, pour the oatmeal in a blender or food processor and grind until it becomes a flour-like texture. It is okay if there are some oat flakes mixed in. Mix the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt into the ground oatmeal and set aside.

Once the butter has cooled, pour it into the bowl of an electric mixer. Add the sugars and to and beat until the mixture sticks together. This may take a few minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the egg and vanilla and mix until fully combined. Pour in the oat-flour mixture until the mixture is almost fully incorporated but you can still see streaks of flour, then fold in the chocolate chunks and pecans.

Scoop the cookie dough into 2-tablespoon sized balls and place on your prepared baking sheets. Bake the cookies for about 9-12 minutes. The cookies will firm up as they cool, so if the edges and top are golden, they have cooked too long. Allow the baked cookies to cool for a few minutes on the trays before transferring them to wire racks to cool completely.

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  1. Hi! Just a clarification question: the recipe calls for 1/2c butter but the directions say 12T—which is correct? Thanks so much!

    • Great question! You will use 1/2 cup butter total, but only brown 12 tablespoons. The rest gets mixed into the browned butter before it cools. I added another sentence in the instructions to hopefully make that more clear. Thanks for asking!

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