Freshly baked, and studded with gooey chocolate pockets, who doesn’t love a good chocolate chip cookie? This weekend I made a batch to welcome my brothers-in-law to our house. Warm, puffy, and right out of the oven, the tasty beauties beckoned for sinful snacking. I pulled the first batch out of the oven on Friday afternoon, and by Saturday evening my big pile of cookies was reduced to crumbs!
Chocolate chip cookies was one of the first recipes I tested in the kitchen. I started with a tried-and-true formula, then experimented! I added (or removed) an egg, swapped granulated sugar for brown sugar, poured in a splash of milk, creamed cold butter with sugar, (and creamed really warm butter with sugar) – I tried lots of iterations. For most cookie-bakers, a couple of warm cookies and a glass of milk would be a rewarding end to the experiments, but I wasn’t satisfied until I could pinpoint which ingredients caused different finished attributes. After much testing, and a little reading, I’m finally satisfied! A few secrets to share…
- Want a puffier cookie? Start with room temperature, but still slightly cool, butter (your finger should just leave an imprint when pressed into the wrapper). Only slightly cream butter with sugar – cookies will not retain their shape if too much creaming occurs. Chill dough prior to baking.
- A flat/chewy cookie? Use a higher proportion of brown sugar to granulated sugar. The molasses in the brown sugar will add extra chew. Incorporate a lot of air during creaming – this will cause a “spreading” effect when the cookies bake. Underbaking yields chewier cookies as well.
- A softer cookie? Use a recipe that is higher in moisture, and lower in fat/sugar. Recipes with hygroscopic ingredients like honey, molasses, and corn syrup help make a soft cookie. The hygroscopic ingredients grab and retain moisture. Also, use bigger drops of dough to help retain moisture during baking.
A Food Science tid-bite: To keep cookies soft, store in an airtight container with a slice of moist bread. This is an amazing little trick, which demonstrates moisture migration brilliantly. The moisture from the bread will migrate to the cookies, leaving the bread dry and cookies soft.
Source: Wayne Gisslen. Professional Baking Second Edition. John Wiley & Sons Inc, 1985, 1994.