The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies


The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies

Over the course of the past few years, I've truly fallen in love with making chocolate chip cookies. My baking takes so many different forms and I'm constantly looking for something new to make or new flavors to try. But chocolate chip cookies are a staple - something that comes together nearly without thought, allowing me to fully pour my heart into each batch of cookies. Daniel and I regularly joke about the fact that any time he requests chocolate chip cookies, there's a fresh batch coming out of the oven within 12 hours.

It absolutely never fails. 

I always have what I need on hand to whip these cookies together (or at least, a very similar version). Because it's important to have easy access to chocolate chip cookies : ) 


I'm regularly tweaking this recipe, ever so slightly, wondering if I might be able to improve upon what I already love so much. If I've learned anything substantial over the years, it is that ingredients matter.

I've always been picky about what goes into my chocolate chip cookies, but the best version I've made to date uses chocolate baking discs from Grocer's Daughter Chocolate, which they source from Conexion, a woman-owned company making incredibly high-quality bean-to-bar chocolate in Ecuador. The complex and fruity flavors in this chocolate bring these cookies over the top. 


I also use Sonoma Syrup Co.'s vanilla bean CRUSH, a vanilla extract packed with vanilla seeds and unparalleled in flavor. The dough of these cookies pairs the rich caramel flavors of turbinado sugar with floral vanilla, creating the perfect match for our chocolate. 

This is heaven in a cookie, friends.  


The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies


1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened 

2 Tbsp organic cane sugar 

2 Tbsp turbinado sugar (use brown sugar if you don't have turbinado) 

3/4 cup plus 2Tbsp light brown sugar 

1 large egg 

1 tsp vanilla 

3/4 tsp baking soda 

heaped 1/4 tsp salt 

1 cup all-purpose flour 

3/4 cup bread flour

1/2 pound bittersweet chocolate disks (I pefer a mixture of 64% and 88%) 

flaky sea salt 


  • Cream together butter, all three sugars and vanilla, beating for at least 5 minutes with a stand mixer with the paddle attachment (or a really buff arm!).  
  • Add egg. Continue mixing until fully incorporated.
  • Combine flours, baking soda and salt in a separate bowl.  Whisk to combine. 
  • Add half of dry ingredients and mix on low, just until it starts to mix into the creamed butter. Add remaining dry ingredients and mix on low until just a few streaks of flour remain. 
  • Add chocolate and mix until just incorporated. 
  • Scoop cookies onto baking sheets lined with silicone baking mats or parchment paper. I use a cookie scoop to get nice clean circles. Sprinkle each cookie with a few flakes of salt. 
  • Bake at 360 degrees, for 10-12 minutes - until the edges just start to brown and the centers are still soft. Let cool completely on the baking sheet (or for at least 5 minutes before moving to a cooling rack). 


Explore Traverse City Food Gems & Nearby Towns


Explore Traverse City Food Gems & Nearby Towns

Riverside Inn - Leland

The sweet little town of Leland has always held a special place in my heart. As a child, we always visited to walk the docks of Fishtown (and do some fishing!). Just a few years ago, my husband and I celebrated with friends along the water after getting engaged on North Manitou Island. And I can't let a summer pass without a north shore sandwich from The Cheese Shanty. 

A few blocks from fishtown sits the best restaurant in Leland, The Riverside Inn. Aptly named for it's gorgeous location along the banks of the Leland river.  With a local focus and impeccable execution, this is the perfect place for a special night out, a drink at the bar or a meal on the porch overlooking the river. 


Rockwich - Traverse City

There is always a new place to eat in Traverse City, and Rockwich is one of this year's stand-out new joints. Their seriously local, organic sandwiches are creative, flavorful and keep you wanting to return over and over again. Rockwich takes their hard rock vibe seriously, but the sweet family who runs this food truck will instantly put a smile on your face. Their sandwich-filled school bus is the place to be! 


Julianne Tomatoes - Petoskey

I grew up in Petoskey and firmly believe that no trip to northern Michigan is complete without a stop in this sweet town. It is truly a magical place (even Ann Patchett agrees!). When I was a kid, we regularly walked the creaking floors of what is now Julianne Tomatoes. At the time, the local food coop was located there. All those memories fill this space with a special feeling for me, but what they have to offer is so much more than my nostalgic dreams! 

Amazing breakfasts, sandwiches, soups and salads make this place a must-stop for breakfast or lunch in Petoskey. Check the board to see what local products are featured in the menu of the day, and don't forget to order dessert! 


Grocer's Daughter - Empire

If you've been following me lately, you probably already know about my love affair with Grocer's Daughter Chocolate in Empire. I wanted to include them here because they're so much more than the chocolate I love to bake with. A stop in Grocer's Daughter (preferable after a trip to the Sleeping Bear Dunes!) should always involve a hearty serving of truffles and a few treats for the road. 


Good Harbor Grill - Glen Arbor

Head north from Empire, past some of the Sleeping Bear Dune's most popular attractions, and you'll soon reach the little town of Glen Arbor. The town sits with the national lakeshore continuing along the coast both north and south of town, making it the perfect place to stop for lunch during a trip to the dunes. 

My go-to in this little town is always Good Harbor Grill for breakfast or lunch. Warm up with a cup of soup after a chilly dip in the lake, and make sure to take in the sweet exterior of this seriously charming restaurant. 



Peaches & Browned Buttercream Cake (our wedding cake)


Peaches & Browned Buttercream Cake (our wedding cake)

I could not be more excited to finally share this recipe with you, friends! Over a year ago (!!!) my sweet babes and I got married on a magically stormy day in the teeny tiny town of Bliss, Michigan. We shared our love of one another, and Daniel even sang part of this song to me during his vows. We ate an absolutely incredible meal made by our friend Mike at Blackbird Gardens, which included pork raised and gifted to us by our dear friends Nate & Jill at Green Things Farm. The power went out while we ate dinner and came back on just as a friend arrived with a boatload of candles and someone was headed our way with a generator. No one skipped a beat, and the magic of the night ontinued on. There was a massive dance party... which thankfully didn't break the barn floor as many of us were worried it might. Our incredible community of people came together in a beautiful way.

We also ate a lot of desserts made by yours truly. 

I couldn't imagine anyone else baking my wedding desserts, so I decided to do it myself despite warnings from just about everyone except for my husband (he knew I could do it, and also is a big fan of my desserts!). So he and I cut our cake then stood side by side and served dessert to our family and friends who we couldn't have been happier to be celebrating alongside. 


This was the cake that made me fall in love with making cakes. I made so many different recipes in the year leading up to this day, trying to decide on that one cake we should serve at our wedding. 


The final iteration came together around a jam that I make every fall, as the last of the peaches are harvested. The peach flavor shines without too much sugar alongside a punch of bourbon and a little vanilla. Many friends and family have been given a jar of this jam over the years, so it only seemed right to make it a part of this special day full of many of those same dear people. 

A dense and satisfying cake, best made with the highest quality buttermilk you can get your hands on (shout out to Shetler Dairy, they're my northern Michigan go-to!). 

And my absolute favorite fall frosting - browned buttercream. A classic vanilla swiss meringue buttercream made with butter that has been browned then chilled. Subtly flecked with those gorgeous and flavorful caramelized milk solids that give the butter its nutty flavor. 


I had planned to share this recipe with you ages ago... but timing got the best of me. Instead of the traditional eating of the top tier of your wedding cake on the first anniversary, I made a new cake for us to share... and will probably continue to do so every year! 

Peaches & Brown Buttercream Cake



The best vanilla makes all the difference in baked goods, so be sure to use a high quality vanilla. My favorite is Vanilla Bean Extract "Crush" from Sonoma Syrup - it's combination of an incredible extract and vanilla bean seeds that makes for the perfect balance. Plus those beautiful seeds shine in frosting! 

This recipe makes a 3-4 layer 6in cake. I prefer to bake this cake in two cake pans and cut each layer in half for four layers. Alternatively, you can bake it in three pans for three layers. 

Double all pieces of the recipe for a 9in cake. If you want to go all out and make yourself a tiered cake, multiply all pieces by 3 :) 

Vanilla Buttermilk Cake

1 3/4 + 2Tbsp cups cake flour
1 1/4 cups sugar
1 Tbsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
5oz unsalted butter, at room temperature & cubed
3/4 cup + 1Tbsp buttermilk
2.5 whole eggs (weird, but correct!) 
1 egg yolk
2 tsp vanilla extract

  • Combine flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the paddle attachment, run for 30 seconds or so to combine ingredients. 
  • Add butter and buttermilk to the dry ingredients. Mix on low speed to start until the ingredients are mostly combined. Turn the speed up to medium and beat until light and fluffy, for about 2-3 minutes. 
  • While it's mixing, whisk together eggs, yolks and vanilla in a small bowl. 
  • Remove bowl from mixer and gently fold the eggs into the batter, 1/3 at a time. 
  • Divide the batter evenly into two or three 6in cake pans (see note above) which have been buttered and lined with a round of parchment. 
  • Bake at 325 for 20-25 minutes, until the center is cooked and a toothpick comes out clean (let's be honest, I never use a toothpick and always just feel the cake... but do use a toothpick if that's what you're comfortable with!) 
  • Let cool for at least 10 minutes before turning out of pans. 
  • Chill the cake before frosting. 

Brown Buttercream Frosting

3/4 cup sugar 

3 egg whites 

9.75oz browned butter, chilled then softened, cut into 1in cubes. 

1 tsp vanilla 

  • In the bowl of a double boiler (or a bowl set over a pan with a little water in the bottom), whisk together egg whites and sugar. Cook over medium heat, stirring regularly, until the sugar is dissolved. I like to pull up the whisk and feel the mixture between my fingers to check for gritty feeling sugar. 
  • Scrape the egg white and sugar mixture into the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the whisk attachment, whip the egg whites until they form stiff peaks and have cooled completely. 
  • Add the vanilla. 
  • Slowly add the butter, one cube at a time, while the mixer is running. Once you've added all the butter, switch over to the paddle. Mix the frosting on medium-high speed until it thickens and comes together. This takes a little while, so be patient! 

Vanilla Bourbon Peach Jam 

1 quart ripe peaches, peeled, pitted & diced

1/4 cup bourbon 

1/3 cup sugar 

2 tsp vanilla 

  • Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium heat. 
  • Cook, stirring occasionally, until the peaches have softened. 
  • Transfer mixture to a blender and puree (or use an immersion blender if you have one!). 
  • Return to heat and cook until jam has jelled. I like to place a small spoonful in the freezer to cool it quickly and check the texture. 
  • Cool completely before assembling cake. Store in refrigerator if you make ahead of time. 

Assembling the Cake 

If you opted for baking two cakes, first you'll want to cut each layer in half. I like to use a bread knife and this general process (except I definitely just cut it and don't measure - eek! If you've never cut a cake into layers, do measure - it makes it much less stressful!). 

Place one layer of cake on a cake board or the plate/cake stand you're serving it on. Pipe a ring of frosting around the edge of the cake and fill the ring with peach jam. Set the next layer on top, aiming to keep the cake as even as possible, and repeat. 

Once you've set the top layer on the cake, apply a crumb coat (aka coat the cake in a very thin layer of frosting using a separate bowl so you don't contaminate the rest of the frosting with crumbs). Chill until the crumb coat is solid to the touch. 

Frost the rest of the cake however you please!