I saw Christopher Kimball, doyen of the Cook's Illustrated empire, at our local bookstore a while ago and, as one of my old professors would say, he was "good value".
He did, however, have a bit of a rant about the internet and how random websites just did not produce recipes that could compare to the meticulous testing that a Cook's Illustrated recipe went through. I was interested to see this come to a head on Slate where Cook's Illustrated has put their recipes up against food52.com for a head-to-head battle.
So yesterday, my wife and I took up the challenge. We resolved to follow both recipes meticulously, which I believe we achieved after a trip for ingredients.
Neither was particularly easier or harder than the other -- the Cook's Illustrated had a lot of fiddling with spices, while the food52.com one required creaming the butter and sugar.
Both came out pretty much as you would expect, although the Cook's Illustrated ones were a little flat. The recipe does say to be careful to not overwork the dough; it may be partially user error.
We were split. I liked the Cook's Illustrated one better, as the spices really were quite mellow and very enjoyable with a cup of coffee. My wife tended towards the plainer food52.com ones, but she is a big fan of a plain sugar cookie.
The ultimate test, however, was leaving both of them on the bench at work with a request to vote. The winner was clear -- 10 votes for Cook's Illustrated and only 3 for food52.com.
So, maybe Kimball has a point. Either way, when there's cookies, everyone's a winner!
Some photos of the results: