Chocolate chip cookies are one of the most popular cookies to come out of ovens everywhere. They are as American as apple pie and, some would say, more popular and certainly easier to bake from scratch. The taste of the raw cookie dough, the aroma of fresh baked cookies and the taste and texture of the cookies themselves make them a winner time and again. Yet, some bakers have a knack for making chocolate chip cookies even better. Their cookies not only taste better, but also beat out any that come out of a commercial bakery.
I’ve been baking cookies since I was a child. My sister and I would bake together in our mother’s kitchen, starting when I was around 7 years old and she was 8. We used a worn, ingredients splattered recipe card from my mom’s old, metal recipe box. Now, I prefer the recipe in Betty Crocker’s 40th Anniversary edition Cookbook. The recipe calls for one egg where other popular recipes call for two. One egg makes for a stiffer dough and thicker cookie.
What none of the popular versions of the recipe tell you are the tips that will make your chocolate chip cookies the best ever. I have learned over the years and through countless chocolate chip cookie batches how to make soft, delicious chocolate chip cookies every time without fail. Occasionally I will be at a party where someone else has brought cookies and I have been disappointed in the hard, lumps of bland cookie. I can often diagnose the problem right away. With the following tips, you will be on your way to being, not only a legendary cookie baker in your circle of family and friends, but a cookie connoisseur as well.
Always use real, unsalted butter. Butter makes a better flavored cookie with a softer texture. Some recipes list only margarine, but ignore this and substitute with butter. Soften the butter on the counter instead of in the microwave. Softening the butter in the microwave will melt some of it. The butter should still be solid when you mix up cookie dough, but soft enough to easily combine with the dry ingredients.
Sift the baking soda. It seems like an unnecessary step, but if you have ever made anything with baking soda that had little clumps in it, you will never forget the taste when you bite into that fresh cookie and get a small clump of baking soda with it. An opened box of baking soda will draw some moisture and that will lead to clumped baking soda. The baking soda is perfectly fine, it just needs to be sifted before you add it to any batter.
Use half whole-wheat flour and half white flour. The whole-wheat flour gives your cookies a nice, hearty flavor that complements the chocolate chips well. The flavor is subtle, but makes the difference between an okay cookie and a fantastic chocolate chip cookie. It also adds some nutrients and makes for a perfect way to convince yourself that your snack has a little bit of health value.
Avoid using non-stick pans for cookies. Many a good chocolate chip cookie has been ruined because it was cooked on a non-stick pan. You don’t need a non-stick pan for cookies. The high butter content will keep the cookie from sticking while baking. A dark, coated pan will darken and overcook the bottom of your cookie. So, your cookies could be great on top, but overcooked, hard and dry on the bottom.
Always preheat your oven. In an un-preheated oven, the first batch could take up to twelve minutes. Then it becomes easy to overcook the second batch, which should only take around nine minutes. Set your timer for the minimum recommended time in the recipe. Then, if they need another minute, you can give it to them without fear of over cooking. Once you know how long that first batch is going to take, set your timer for that time each time a batch goes in the oven and they will come out perfectly.
These tips are all simple things that are easy to incorporate into your chocolate chip cookie baking habits. If you follow through, your cookies will go from so-so to wow. And there won’t be any left the next day. Enjoy!
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