A collaboration of three writers -- Linda Lau Anusasananan, Andrew Baker, Christine Weber Hale -- produced the recipes, the thorough explanations of properties and technique, and the very readable Q&A about what makes chocolate chip cookies turn out so differently:
The burning issue is how to make the cookie turn out the way you want, every time. Curiously, most cooks who asked for help use the same recipe--the one on the back of the Nestlé chocolate chip bag. It's a reliable recipe, but subtle changes produce surprising differences. To determine which factors influence the final cookie, we used the wrapper recipe and baked more than 25 variations. Each batch was slightly different, and changes in proportions, mixing methods, and baking were carefully controlled. The goal: to learn how to make the cookie that matches your favorite adjectives....
There are recipes for Thick, Soft, and Chewy (most notably, it has an egg in it) and Thin, Crisp; Thin, Crisp, and Chewy, as well as Thick, Crunchy, vary the amounts of the ingredients in Thin, Crisp.
Here's that one:
Thin, Crisp Chocolate Chip Cookies
Cooking time: About 20 minutes per pan
Prep time: About 10 minutes
Makes: About 32 cookies
1 cup all-purpose flour
1. Mix flour, baking soda, and salt.
2. With a mixer on medium speed, beat butter, brown sugar, granulated sugar, 3 tablespoons water, and vanilla until blended. Stir flour mixture into butter mixture, then beat until blended. Stir in chocolate chips and nuts.
3. Drop batter in 1-tablespoon portions about 2 inches apart on baking sheets.
4. Bake in a 300° oven until an even golden brown, 18 to 20 minutes. If using 2 pans in 1 oven, switch places at half-time.
5. Let cookies cool on pan about 3 minutes, then transfer to racks with a spatula. Serve warm or cool. Store airtight up to 1 day, or freeze for longer storage.
Per cookie: 86 cal., 47% (40 cal.) from fat; 0.6 g protein; 4.4 g fat (2.6 g sat.); 12 g carbo.; 77 mg sodium; 7.8 mg chol.