An Official Friends Cookbook Is Coming, and We Tried Monica’s Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe First

It was October just after the turn of the millennium. Fifteen-year-old Michael Phelps had made his debut at the Olympics, winning no medals. A new Charlie's Angels movie starring Lucy Liu, Cameron Diaz, and Drew Barrymore was about to hit theaters. George Bush and Al Gore were locked in a tight presidential race. And Monica Geller was baking 22 batches of chocolate chip cookies in an attempt to replicate the secret recipe Phoebe Buffay had inherited from her grandmother, which was lost in a fire. It was, in every way, a different time. 

Twenty years later, during a pandemic that has inspired so much baking that there has been a national run on flour, it is time to revisit the third episode of the seventh season of Friends. Ahead of the publication of the official Friends cookbook, Glamour got an exclusive look at one of the recipes Monica tests as she tries to re-create Phoebe's grandmother's famous cookies. 

Reader, I will be honest: I was skeptical. I don't know much, but I do know that in the episode in question, the big reveal is that Phoebe's grandmother's cookies were just the recipe on the back of the Tollhouse chocolate chips bag. (Monica's zealous testing was all for nothing!) Yet I followed this recipe, which bills itself as “one of Monica's trial recipes,” because it seemed like a promising excuse to bake during work hours. And here is the truth: These cookies are 100 times better than Tollhouse cookies. These are the best cookies I have ever made. 

Spoiler: Here's how the cookies looked just before going into the oven
Spoiler: Here's how the cookies looked just before going into the oven

“The One With Phoebe's Cookies” is feat of storytelling that braids together three plot lines about legacy and inheritance—Rachel morphing into her cruel father as she tries to teach Joey how to sail, Chandler's literal Freudian slip that causes him to slide, naked, onto his soon-to-be father-in-law's lap, and Monica's desperate attempt to re-create Phoebe's grandmother's lost cookie recipe for her future children. Friends has a lot going against it—the cast is blindingly white, it regularly makes fun of fat people, and it spent several seasons turning the idea of men being attracted to each other into a punch line. But the cookie episode demonstrates the show's addictive mixture of clumsy cheer. It's not not Shakespearean, okay? 

The Monica-Phoebe plot goes like this: Monica requests Phoebe's grandmother's secret recipe for chocolate chip cookies as an engagement present, learns it was lost in a fire, and makes at least 22 attempts to replicate it, only to learn that Phoebe's grandmother learned the recipe from a French woman named "Nestlé Toulouse"—as in Tollhouse Cookies. The “secret” is on the back of the Nestle chocolate chip bag, and it is the most well-known and accessible recipe chocolate chip cookie recipe ever. 

Once again, I feel called upon to speak truth to power: The Nestle Tollhouse cookie recipe is merely adequate. It turns out consistent cookies that make you say, “Sure, I'll eat four if literally no other dessert is available.” Fresh from the oven, a Tollhouse cookie tastes like pure oxytocin. But two or more hours later, it tastes like it came from a vending machine. 

So a recipe designed to re-create the experience of a Tollhouse cookies is unappealing to me. What I did not realize is that this is not a recipe for Tollhouse chocolate chip cookies. This is a recipe for a sophisticated chocolate chip cookie that could be sold in a bakery for $3.75 at least. Amanda Nicole Yee, who wrote the Friends cookbook, out in September, trained at Le Cordon Bleu, runs her own restaurant, and has contributed to multiple cookbooks. She also works as a food justice advocate, and has spoken about how her culinary work is a form of activism—an opportunity to hold space for women of color. 

All this to say I trust Amanda and plunged into baking with blind abandon, just as Phoebe plunged into becoming a surrogate for her brother's triplets. I did almost every single part of the recipe wrong, and the cookies still turned out incredible. 

Refrigerate until cold, 40–60 minutes? In this economy?
Refrigerate until cold, 40–60 minutes? In this economy?
Insight Editions

This recipe has two different steps that require elements of the recipe to be refrigerated for one hour. I am just not in a place in my life where I can make chocolate chip cookies that take three hours. I am not a Monica. I am a Joey-Chandler with notes of Rachel. After one hour of effort, I need to immediately lie down and watch a 14-minute YouTube video about skin care. So when I got to the part of the recipe that instructed me to brown the butter, let it cool, and refrigerate it for an hour, I instead put the sort of brown butter in the freezer for 20 minutes. When the recipe read “roll into logs and refrigerate for one hour,” I put them in the refrigerator and came back six hours later when I was good and ready to eat cookies based on a television show. 

For the sake of transparency, here are all the ways in which I disrespected the official Friends cookbook recipe, due to being overly empowered by Ina Garten's pandemic Instagram, which emphasizes using what you have around the house: I didn't have 12 ounces of a 70% dark chocolate bar, so I just took several half-eaten chocolate bars and chopped them up, then added a handful of chocolate chips. Instead of all-purpose flour, I used something called “long fermentation baker's flour” purchased thanks to early-pandemic baking ambition. I zested my orange using a cheese grater. 

In fact, by the time it occurred to me to bake the cookies, it was time to have a socially distanced dinner in my family's backyard, so I brought over the rolls of cookie dough, and then watched through a screen door as my aunt cut them up, politely reading me for filth about all the things I'd done wrong. ("Jenny, this isn't a log. If you ever want to actually roll dough into a log I can teach you. It's very easy.") 

Bravely making a family member do work for me, during a pandemic
Bravely making a family member do work for me, during a pandemic

The recipe called for the cookies to be cut into two-inch-thick discs. My aunt Amy, who is actually a very talented baker, and I had never heard of this. The result looked like a little cookie Stonehenge. Instead, she cut them into one-and-a-quarter-inch discs and pressed Maldon sea salt (fancy!) into each one. She baked them for nine minutes until they were brown, while I peered through her window like a crazed goblin in a fairy tale. 

When the cookies came out, I was confused and taken aback, like Phoebe when she learns that both Dave and Mike are in love with her, or Phoebe in many other circumstances. The cookies were perfectly sized—much thicker, creamier in color, and with more dimension than Tollhouse cookies. Earlier in the summer I had made chocolate chip cookies using a popular recipe from a Very Famous Food Blog, and these were 10 times better—flavorful from the orange and vanilla, soft and salty, with a nice texture and a melty integrity. Their size and heft made them feel like a dessert instead of a crumbling snack you would pull out of a ziplock baggy. Thirty-six hours later, they're still soft and flavorful—you could ease one in half and it wouldn't snap or break into pieces. 

Make this recipe. Or make part of this recipe, and shout at your aunt through a screen door as she makes the rest. Serve them fresh out of the oven with a glass of milk, or microwave them for 12 seconds. Use what you have lying around—this recipe is durable enough even for total Joeys. 

Just a picture of some of my closest FRIENDS
Just a picture of some of my closest FRIENDS

Chocolate Chip Cookies the French Way 


  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter

  • ½ cup granulated sugar

  • 1 cup packed brown sugar

  • 2 whole eggs

  • 1 egg yolk

  • 1 tsp. vanilla extract

  • 1 tsp. bourbon (optional)

  • Zest of ½ orange

  • 2¼ cups of all-purpose flour

  • 1 tsp. baking soda

  • 12 oz. dark (70%) chocolate bar, cut in chunks

  • Flaky sea salt for sprinkling


  1. In a small pot, melt the butter on medium. Allow to turn brown, about 5 minutes. Keep an eye on the butter, as it can go from melted to burnt quickly. The butter should start to smell nutty and have a brown but clear color to it. Remove the butter from heat, use a rubber spatula to pour the butter and its brown bits into a bowl, and refrigerate until cold, 40 to 60 minutes.

  2. Once the butter is cold, in a large bowl using a hand mixer on medium speed, mix together the brown butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar until the mixture becomes pale and almost creamy, 3 to 4 minutes.

  3. Add the eggs and egg yolk, one at a time, mixing for about 20 seconds after each addition.

  4. Add the vanilla, bourbon (if using), and orange zest and mix to combine.

  5. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, and while mixer is on medium low, slowly add in the flour and baking soda. Allow to incorporate, 3 to 4 minutes.

  6. Fold in chocolate chunks.

  7. Place dough on a clean work surface, divide into quarters, and roll into logs. Wrap in wax paper or plastic wrap and refrigerate for an hour, until firm.

  8. Preheat the oven to 350°F and line 2 large baking sheets with parchment paper.

  9. Cut 2-inch-thick discs from the cookie and place on the baking sheets 1 to 2 inches apart.

  10. Sprinkle the cookie discs with flaky sea salt and bake for 9 to 10 minutes, until the cookies are lightly golden brown. Eat them with a French accent!

Jenny Singer is a staff writer for Glamour. You can follow her on Twitter.

Originally Appeared on Glamour