Pay no attention to the recipe offered in the Lemonade cookbook — it bears little resemblance to the cookies sold at the end of the cafeteria-style line in their restaurants, which we deemed the best in Orange County after sampling 20 varieties. However, tinkering with that book’s recipe has rewarded us with a very close approximation to our winner. Our goal was a cookie about five inches across, weighing in at nearly a quarter pound, and with a buttery-salty chew.
Our reporting revealed that Lemonade uses semisweet wafers by Guittard, which sounds like a niche item, but is actually sold at Target (look for the gold bag in the baking aisle). A whopping one-third of this cookie is chocolate, so using the right product is key. The Lemonade locations receive unbaked dough from their central kitchen and then bake it later on-site. This delay deepens the flavor, which you can replicate at home by waiting 24 hours between making dough and baking. To quote cooking scientist J. Kenji Lopez-Alt, “If there’s one single thing you can do improve the flavor of your cookies, it’s to let the dough rest.”
Makes 10 enormous cookies
➜ 2 sticks unsalted butter, browned and cooled to room temperature
➜ 2 1/4 cups bread flour (280g)
➜ 1 tsp baking soda
➜ 1 tsp salt
➜ 3/4 cup white sugar (170g)
➜ 1 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed (216g)
➜ 2 large eggs, at room temperature
➜ 1 tsp vanilla extract
➜ 12 oz bag Guittard 66% semisweet baking wafers
1. Brown the butter in a saucepan. Remove from heat and let cool to room temperature.
2. Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl, set aside.
3. Combine eggs and white sugar in the bowl of a standing electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, or use a handheld electric beater. Beat on medium speed about five minutes. Scrape down sides of bowl, add brown sugar, brown butter and vanilla. Mix well.
4. Turn the mixer to low speed, then add the dry ingredients all at once until just combined. Do not overmix.
5. Weigh out 66g portions of dough on kitchen scale, or use 1/4 cup measure. Mix 21 chocolate wafers into each portion by hand. This extra-picky step ensures that no cookies are over- or under-chocolatey — we used a muffin tin to portion out the chocolate in advance. Flatten dough balls slightly into hockey puck shapes and place each portion in an air-tight container and refrigerate for 24 hours.
Note: There will be extra dough. Resist the temptation to divvy it up amongst the other portions, as your copycat proportions will be off. We suggest sprinkling with sugar for some killer brown butter sugar cookies.
6. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place three or four portions on each cookie sheet (remember, they’re huge!) and bake one sheet at a time for 16-20 minutes on middle rack, rotating after 10 minutes. Cookies are done when uniformly golden across the top. Cool on pans for 10 minutes before transferring to wire rack.