Tantalizing Preview: Ad Hoc Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe By Thomas Keller

Just-baked chocolate chip cookes from the upcoming Ad Hoc cookbook

Confession time.

I have “The French Laundry Cookbook,” the “Bouchon Cookbook,” and the “Under Pressure” sous vide tome, all by Thomas Keller.

These oversized, coffee-table books reside in a prominent place on my bookshelf. I have leafed through them all, savoring the recipes, and lusting after each and every magnificent dish photographed so dreamily.

But I’ve yet to cook from any of them. Maybe I’ve felt unworthy. Maybe I’ve lacked the equipment necessary. And maybe I’ve lacked the time for some of the rather involved dishes that my husband joked he’d have to take days off from work to help me pull off.

That is, until now.

Until a promo brochure for the upcoming “Ad Hoc At Home” (Artisan) book arrived in my mail, and I fairly ran to the kitchen to start pulling measuring spoons and bowls out of my cabinets.

I’ve had the pleasure of eating at Ad Hoc in Yountville a couple of times. I’ve always been won over by the impeccable quality of the seasonal, family-style food served at this casual eatery. It’s comfort food done with utmost fun and finesse.

Salmon tartare cornets I’ll leave to the French Laundry staff to construct. A Bouchon recipe for French onion soup that requires a half day to caramelize onions ever so slowly (I’m exaggerating, but not by much) makes my eyes glaze over. Sous vide anything makes me start to tremble.

But chocolate chip cookies? OK, this I can do.

Making the dough.

Keller acknowledges his other books might be intimidating to most of us. He goes so far as to refer to the new Ad Hoc book as “the long-awaited cookbook for the home chef.” It’s described as uncomplicated, the way Keller cooks at home — without intricate garnishes or an immersion circulator. Though, knowing him, I’m sure he cooks in the world’s most organized, uncluttered home kitchen around, with everything labeled and alphabetized, and every electrical cord neatly wound just so. He can’t help himself.

The book won’t be available until November. But the promo materials give a hint at the very doable, very delectable dishes in store: leek bread pudding, blow-torch prime rib roast, caramelized sea scallops, and pineapple upside-down cake.

Being the cookie fiend that I am, though, it was the recipe included in full for chocolate chip cookies that got me pumped up.

With so many chocolate chip cookie recipes already out there, how could this one be any different?


You start with butter that’s cold, not softened at room temperature.

You beat in said butter half at a time.

Two specific types of chocolate are used: 55 percent, and 70 to 72 percent.

You chop the chocolate, then sift it to remove tiny fragments so that the cookies bake up with a neater appearance.

Sweetness is provided mostly by dark brown sugar, not light.

There is no vanilla extract added.

And if you prefer softer-textured cookies, you don’t underbake them. Instead, you mist them with water before baking.

New Newman's Own Organics dark chocolate

I opted to use the new Newman’s Own Organics 70 percent and 54 percent (the closest I had to 55 percent) dark chocolates because I had just received samples in the mail. They worked mighty fine, too.

The dough comes together easily in a mixer bowl. Then, you form it into balls that go onto baking pans. I baked half of the cookies as is, and half misted with water.

They emerged plump and golden brown from the oven. Maybe it’s because there is no vanilla extract to temper or mask anything, but this cookie really lets the chocolate shine. Take a bite, and what you notice most is the purity of the bittersweet, dark chocolate flavor that comes through. Even with 1 3/4 cups total of sugar, it’s not a sweet-tasting cookie by any means, especially if you’re used to the kid-friendly Toll House version.

Crispy, chewy, and gooey.

The edges and tops are crispy, and the interior chewy. And if you use the misting technique, you do end up with cookies that are less crisp on top, and more cakey soft instead.

The cookbook may be five months away from being available in stores. But you can enjoy a most sweet preview by baking these cookies now. Yes, it’s a recipe by one of the world’s greatest chefs of all time. But happily, it’s one that’s infinitely doable by any and all.

Chocolate Chip Cookies

(makes about thirty 3-inch cookies)

Thomas Keller writes in the book: This is our version of what is arguably the best cookie ever. I like to use different chocolates, one sweeter, one with a more complex bittersweet balance. After you chop the chocolate, sift it to remove any tiny fragments to give the cookies a cleaner look. If you like softer cookies, don’t underbake them, just mist them with water before baking.

2 1/3 cups plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1 teaspoon kosher salt

5 ounces 55 percent chocolate, cut into chip-sized pieces

5 ounces 70 to 72 percent chocolate, cut into chip-sized pieces

8 ounces (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces

1 cup packed dark brown sugar, preferably molasses sugar

3/4 cup granulated sugar

2 large eggs

Position racks in the lower and upper thirds of the oven and preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with Silpats or parchment paper.

Sift flour and baking soda into a medium bowl. Stir in the salt.

Put chips in a fine-mesh basket strainer and shake to remove any chocolate “dust” (small fragments).

In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, beat half the butter on medium speed until fairly smooth. Add both sugars and the remaining butter, and beat until well combined, then beat for a few minutes, until mixture is light and creamy. Scrape down sides of the bowl. Add eggs one at a time, beating until the first one is incorporated before adding the next and scraping the bowl as necessary. Add dry ingredients and mix on low speed to combine. Mix in chocolate.

Remove bowl from mixer and fold dough with a spatula to be sure the chocolate is evenly incorporated. The dough or shaped cookies can be refrigerated, well wrapped, for up to 5 days or frozen for 2 weeks. Freeze shaped cookies on the baking sheets until firm, then transfer to freezer containers. (Defrost frozen cookies overnight in the refrigerator before baking.)

Using about 2 level tablespoons per cookie, shape dough into balls. Arrange 8 cookies on each pan, leaving about 2 inches between them, because the dough will spread. Bake for 12 minutes, or until the tops are no longer shiny, switching the position and rotating pans halfway through baking.

Cool cookies on the pans on cooling racks for about 2 minutes to firm up a bit, then transfer to the racks to cool completely. Repeat with second batch of cookies. (The cookies can be stored in an airtight container for up to 2 days.)

Note: If your brown sugar has hardened, soften it in the microwave for 15 to 30 seconds.

From the upcoming “Ad Hoc At Home”

More: Ad Hoc’s Pineapple Upside-Down Cake Recipe

More: Caramelized Sea Scallops

More: Leek Bread Pudding

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  • I really like the idea of no vanilla. I would imagine the taste is one that has a purity to it like no other. So will you share some of the other recipes with us?

  • Those cookies look so good! Without vanilla, now that’s different!



  • Oh my, I’m on my way to my kitchen to dig out the measuring cups other necessary items

  • I can’t wait for November! Love the tips for sifting and misting. I have to try these soon.

  • I know what I’ll be making tonight!

  • Oooh these do look tantalizing! your post is funny; i am totally making these!

  • I always love a good chocolate chip cookie recipe. I’m going to make these very , very soon. They look and sound perfect! I love learning new tips for cookie making. Especially when the tips involve the chocolate chip cookie!

  • I don’t own any Keller cookbooks because they always seem so intimidating, but this is one I’ll definitely check out!

  • Home style cooking Keller style? Can we all say, “OH YEAH.” I’m wondering what other dishes are going into the cookbook.

  • I have several cook books like that, that I have never made one thing out of because they are too intimidating. Yet, I will take them off the shelf occassionaly just to re-read the recipes and look at the fantastic pictures!

    Thanks so much for posting this recipe, I am going to make these for my family for sure!

  • Mmmm, who can resist another variation on the chocolate chip cookie? Not me!

    I’ll help ease you in to the Bouchon book (even I’m not crazy enough for the other two) make the Bibb lettuce salad and the Roast Chicken. Both are dead easy and very, very delicious. Honest.

  • Funny how precise chocolate chip cookie recipes can be. It looks great though. Hard to say no to any chocolate chip cookie.

  • Congratulations on getting through a Thomas Keller recipe. I’ve had TK’s French Laundry cookbook for almost 10 years now and just made my first recipe out of it this weekend (creamy blueberry soup with yogurt charlottes). These cookies seem simple enough and I like the use of 2 kinds of chocolate.

  • Are those hubby’s hands, gracefully modeling what appears to be the most excellent chocolate chip cookie I have seen in a very, very long time? Thank you so much for sharing this recipe and for the extra tips, especially about misting for a softer texture.

    By the way, I’m also available as a cookie-displayer and will happily accept compensation by the dozen!

  • I’ve had the Bouchon book for ages and though I may stare longingly at the recipes, no way would I try one. THIS cookie recipe though, sounds amazing and something I can do!

  • Marc:Congrats on making a recipe out of the “French Laundry” cookbook! You’re braver than me. But I must say creamy blueberry soup with yogurt charlottes sound too good to pass up. I might just muster enough courage to try that one.

    Tangled Noodle: Yes, those are Meat Boy’s hands holding a freshly baked Ad Hoc cookie just before he devoured it. Actually, I’m sure you would make a much better cookie-holder than him. After I fired off six shots with the camera, he was already complaining that he was tired and getting finger cramps! A professional hand model he would never make! 😉

  • Tasty! Cookies They look mouthwatering ! Grand Idea without Vanllia! Perfect for a Summer Picnic~

    Thanks for sharing Recipe:)

    Have a Sunny Day~

  • I made Keller’s lemon zabayone for a tart a few weeks ago. It was simple..and outstanding. I found it online..so I didn’t have his other recipes crowding it in book form to intimidate me! Thanking my lucky stars for that!

    These cookies look so good. I like the use of the dark brown sugar in CC cookies, it gives them such a great toffee flavor. Hand chopped chocolate is so much more melty than chips, these just have to be outstanding. Thanks for sharing this recipe.

  • I believe I am in love with a cookie. Thank you for including the recipe and I am definitely buying this book! Misting cookies… I had never heard of that but will have to try it!

  • What a great post. Picture perfect, and written so well – to the letter.

    I cannot wait for this book, and I’m so jealous that you got an advanced look. My wife and I have our annual Saturday dinner at Ad Hoc every Fall, when we visit Napa/Sonoma. I thought we were lucky to purchase the Ad Hoc fried chicken kit available through Williams Sonoma, but you’ve just dusted that.

    Thanks for sharing the cookie recipe. Your pictures are fantastic. I’m just discovering your blog and I LOVE WHAT I SEE! 🙂

  • What a great sounding recipe – and to use cold butter! My favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe has been the one in David Lebovitz’ Room For Dessert. Wonder if this is the cookie sold at the Bouchon Bakery in Las Vegas?

  • Thomas Keller’s Chocolate Chip Cookies? They look absolutely delicious! I really must try it! This just might be the perfect cookie recipe I was looking for.

  • These cookies look amazing.

    Actually they look better than amazing…they look yummy!

    I too have all of Keller’s book.

    And I agree they can be a bit laborous.

    But I do recommend the duck confit in Bouchon & egg yolk pasta in French Laundry.

    I have yet gotten up the nerve to sous vide anything from Under Pressure.

    So, I’m just going to camp out next to my mail box until my pre-odered copy of Ad Hoc arrives in Dec – I hope it doesn;t rain too much. 🙂

  • These look so wonderful – tks for sharing!

  • I’m intrigued!!! I definitely need to try these, although I am not a bittersweet chocolate fan, but that’s an easy fix!


  • I just pulled a batch out of the oven. They taste great, but the chocolate melted into big puddles (I used Green & Black’s Dark) and the cookies were flatter than the ones in your picture. I used 320 grams of flour so I’m not sure what the issue is. I worked more flour into the remaining dough and am waiting to see what happens.

    They taste good, though! So far, I don’t miss the vanilla.

  • WOOOOOAH! must must must have a bite.

  • Those look incredible! No vanilla? I must try, as I have always used it!

  • Anna: My cookies might be a little puffier only because I sort of ran out of time. I actually made the dough on a Saturday, then refrigerated it, and baked the cookies the next morning. So my dough was colder. That’s interesting that the chocolate you used melted into big puddles like that. I’m wondering if the weather might have affected that, too. Are you having a heatwave like we are here? If so, your chocolate might be already pretty soft before even going into the oven.

  • I once made French Onion Soup for a group of twenty following Keller’s recipe, and it was a four day ordeal. Delicious, but so much work.

    These however, should definitely be a snap. Thanks for sharing!

  • Helen: Oh my gawd! You actually made the onion soup! I bow to you. You deserve big-time kudos for that.

    I remember when the “French Laundry Cookbook” first came out. Chef Keller was scheduled to do a book-signing at a local gourmet store. The culinary director there, who is a trained chef, made three dishes from the book for the event. I think she said it took her FOUR days to do it all! 😉

  • Why do I always look at this stuff when I’m STARVING. Oh my these look so delicious. Drooling here.

  • I once accidentally left the vanilla out of choc. chip cookies and liked the result so much that I’ve never included it since. I’m glad to see Keller agrees with me!

  • Ooh, those looks great! My boyfriend is a total fiend for the NY Times cookies but perhaps I’ll surprise him with these sometime and see what he thinks.

  • Thomas Keller is one of the reasons that, at age 52, I’m going to culinary school in NYC. I first read about him in Ruhlman’s The Soul of a Chef. Follow my journey at the French Culinary Institute. I just started last week! Read my blog “Mrs. Fabulous Goes To Culinary School” over the next 9 months. I may need a batch of these cookies to get me through the rough spots! http://mrsfabulousfeasts.blogspot.com

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  • I just came across your blog. This cookie recipe was a great introduction! I can’t wait to try it.

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  • Made these cookies today and they are sensational. My new staple chocolate chip cookie recipe. I will definitely make them again. They spread nicely, and get crispy around the edges but stay soft and doughy in the centre. Nice, thin, and perfectly round. They remind me of cookies from a place where I live in Montreal called Felix and Norton.

    I didn’t try the misting technique because I didn’t have a spray bottle or anything, but I love these just the way they are. I can’t imagine them being even better! But I will still give it a shot next time I make them, just to see how it works.

    Make these cookies today!!! And don’t substitute golden brown sugar. The dark brown gives it a lovely, sweet, caramel-molasses flavour. Worth making a trip to the store if you don’t have any in the cupboard.

  • Oh man. I just definitely pre-ordered the book. Definitely some amazing cookies.

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  • For those who have wondered whether these Ad Hoc chocolate chip cookies are the same as the Bouchon Bakery chocolate chip cookies, I have the news for you straight from the folks at the Thomas Keller Restaurant Group. The scoop: The Ad Hoc cookie recipe is an original one, but it is based on the Bouchon Bakery chocolate chip cookie recipe. So there you have it.

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  • I have to say that I made these, and while they were good cookies, they strike me as just that, cookies. I don’t know what I was expecting. I’ve cooked a great deal out of Bouchon (just make the macaroons already, but be forewarned, people will always pester you to make them again), and while this was shockingly easy, it wasn’t shockingly good. Not that I’m going to cancel my preorder of this book, I just worry that it might get overly simplified.

    I had a bit of the problem with the spread as well. I hesitated to use Straus butter in these cookies as this butter is always so unpredictable for me when baking with the 85% butterfat, but went ahead with it anyway. However, Hadleigh’s description sounds like the cookies that came out of my oven.

    It really makes me wish that cookbook authors would put in butterfat percentages in baking recipes (and weights on all non-liquid ingredients too). And what’s up with 55%? I began to wonder if it was a hint to buy Valrohna Equitoriale…(for which I looked, and Fog City News did not have, rats!) or then again, maybe Guittard chips, but then why all the stuff about sifting the chocolate…(not that I didn’t do that with the 70%)? Hmm…

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  • Thanks for sharing the recipe. As you can see from my post, I really liked these cookies.

  • hi- made these cookies and they were very flat. i found that scooping them then freezing them helps. i also upped the temperature to 375 degrees and baked for 6.5 minutes then rotated tray and baked for another 6.5 minutes.

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