Which brand makes the softest cookies?
When it comes to chocolate chip cookies, I have to admit I’m a bit of an expert. After the release of my first 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 chewy, they’re slightly salty, and best of all, they’re soft and gooey with a deliciously crispy shell.
Baking homemade chocolate chip cookies is simple enough, but not simple enough for many Americans who rely on pre-mixed box kits to satisfy a sudden sweet tooth craving. These flour, sugar and chocolate chip mixtures usually only require a stick of softened butter and an egg before they are ready to be mixed into the batter, rolled out and placed in the oven.
Granted, it might be our instincts to call this type of cooking “lazy,” but many box kits are actually quite delicious. In fact, most can even rival your grandmother’s famous recipe or – dare I say it – mine.
We tested five popular mixes to see which made for the softest, chewiest, gookiest, and melt-in-your-mouth cookie. There is a time and a place for super crispy cookies, but not in this roundup.
Here’s how the cookies fell apart in terms of texture, including their taste ranking:
5. Betty Crocker Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix (#2 in taste)
What they lacked in soft texture, they made up for in flavor. Like the brownie taste test we ran a few weeks ago, grading these box kits was like splitting hairs. Not a single product disappointed us, but these tend to spread a bit during cooking, resulting in crispy edges. That wasn’t a bad thing, though, and probably a preference for many people. But if you’re a soft cookie connoisseur, you may feel a little let down by the lopsided mouthfeel (unless you’re eating them warm and fresh from the oven). The taste is wonderful, though – classic, cake-like and not overly sweet. If you’re in a hurry, 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’s something about Annie’s baked goods that’s deliciously buttery. These cookies (like brownies, rated #1 for taste) exuded almost oily richness with every bite. But because of the butter content, they (like Betty Crocker) were also a bit too crispy for our taste. You can always undercook them to keep them more tender, but then you risk having fries that don’t melt completely and that’s just not an option. Annie’s gets two big compliments 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 rave about the brand in my cookbook for its smooth, rich milk chocolate chips (my absolute favorite for baking), I still don’t entirely agree with its dark chocolate. It was just a little too bitter (although that dozen was countered by the vanilla flavor to provide a more harmonious balance between biscuit and chocolate). These will certainly satisfy any craving, so I wouldn’t even pretend to turn my nose up at them if they were served to me any day and on any occasion.
2. Foodstir Organic Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix (#5 in taste)
Although these “healthier” cookies had a ridiculously soft texture, they tasted a bit inferior compared to other competitors. It’s probably because they have 25% less sugar than most mainstream brands, and they certainly tasted that way. Sure, the gesture to cut back on the sweetness was appreciated, but these are geared more towards the midweek splurges and not the weekends where we commit to indulging ourselves. Go big or go home, we say, but keep them on standby for emergencies.
1. Miss Jones Baking Co. Sea Salt Chocolate Chip Cookie Mix (#1 in taste)
Excuse me, Miss Jones, but you make a damn good organic cookie. Not only did these take top honors in sweetness, but also in taste, earning high marks and unanimous praise from everyone who tasted them. The darker shade can be attributed to the higher brown sugar content, which traps moisture with the presence of molasses and thus creates a soft, gooey cookie. It also gave them a slightly caramel flavor, which went wonderfully with the wheat notes of their pastry flour mix. If we’re being completely honest, for a cookie that advertised with sea salt, we couldn’t taste much (that award goes to Foodstir’s), but they were so delicious no one cared.