Why the World's Best Chocolate Chip Cookies Don't Have Chocolate Chips
Professional bakers know all about "féves," and the chocolate distribution insurance they provide. It's time you did too.
Have you ever gotten a chocolate chip cookie from a bakery and wondered at how they get them to be just so good? Bakery chocolate chip cookies tend to have several qualities that at home ones don't. They're usually larger, for one thing, and they also seem to always have perfect chocolate distribution throughout the whole cookie, ensuring that you get some of that warm, melty chocolate in every bite. But how? What magical chocolate are they using?
After many years trying and failing to get the same results at home, I think I have the answer. It's not about the chocolate chip cookie recipe, really, or about browning the butter beforehand, or sprinkling them with a pinch of finishing salt later, even though those are still delicious things to do. The trick isn't even in getting the right chocolate chips. It's about abandoning chips all together and looking towards a new shape of chocolate. It's about getting into chocolate féves.
So what are on earth are chocolate féves? Think of them more like flat chocolate discs, rather than chunks or chips. They also go by "chocolate wafers" or "chocolate pistoles." But basically all you're looking for is chocolate that's shaped like a button. I stumbled upon them thanks to Jacques Torres' recipe for chocolate chip cookies, and realized, after ordering them online, that the shape of the chocolate is a perfect mechanism for making sure that my chocolate chip cookies had that layered melted chocolate thing going on that I like so much from really good store-bought ones.
The downside of féves is that they're not as easy to find as chocolate chips, and they tend to be more expensive. But because they're generally used by professional bakers, they tend to be high quality chocolate, another bonus for your cookies. You can order them online, or find them in baking specialty stores. I've also had luck in the baking section of Michael's. They're designed to melt down, so they're not ideal if you're hoping for the chocolate to stay solid. But if you want is that melty, gooey bakery-style warm chocolate chip cookie, go hunt for some chocolate féves.