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Cookies are the best things in life. There’s virtually no situation that a cookie can’t solve, or at least make easier to swallow. But it’s got to be a great cookie. Don’t get me wrong: I’ll eat a bad cookie, but it won’t give me the feels the way a perfectly baked, flavorful, crispy and chewy cookie will.
Considering August 4 is National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day, we’re sharing a few pro-tips to ensure that every batch you bake will bring joy. Skip the junk and make your cookies from scratch — it’s easier than you think. The dry ingredients are literally just flour, baking soda or baking powder and salt. You’ve got this!
1. Make sure your ingredients (and your oven) are at the right temperature.
Surprise! Your oven may be lying to you. Even though you’ve set it to 350°F, the oven temperature is often off, which can lead to burnt or underdone cookies. Invest in an oven thermometer and your cooking overall is bound to improve.
When it comes to cookie ingredients, generally the eggs should be at room temperature and the butter should be soft, taken out of the fridge about an hour before you get to work. Really cold butter or melted butter will throw off the texture.
2. Use the right amount of chocolate.
“There has to be a good ratio of chocolate to cookie dough; not TOO much chocolate but just enough,” pastry chef and baking instructor Gesine Bullock-Prado advises. “No more than one cup of chips per one cup of flour. That seems to be the golden ratio. I like using good-quality chocolate in bars and chopping it into chunks rather than using chips.”
3. Use more brown sugar for a chewier cookie.
“If you want a chocolate chip cookie that spreads less and stays chewy, back off on the granulated sugar and add more brown sugar,” Bullock-Prado says. “The molasses in brown sugars adds moisture.”
4. Don’t forget the salt.
A little bit of salt actually brings out the sweetness of the cookie, and keeps it from tasting bland. A batch of cookies can greatly benefit from 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon of salt.
5. Properly measure your ingredients.
This seems like a no-brainer, but the truth is, many home bakers don’t properly measure the flour, which can make baked goods tough. Make sure you use a dry mea suring cup and level off the flour with your finger or a knife; no heaping mountains of flour!
6. Chill the dough.
Here’s where you need to exercise some patience. You should chill your dough in the fridge for at least 30 minutes to keep the cookie from spreading too thin. Ideally, Bullock-Prado says, you actually want to chill the dough overnight.
“Chilling even 12 hours adds depth of flavor, an almost caramel type flavor, to the finished cookie,” she explains. That gives plenty of time for all the ingredients to marry and ultimately, will take your cookies from good to great. If you really just need a cookie, do what I do and bake one off to satisfy your craving, put the rest of the dough in the fridge, and bake up the full batch the next day.
7. The more you know…
Knowing how different ingredients contribute to the equation can help you customize your cookies to your desired texture and taste. Bullock-Prado shared a little cheat-sheet:
- Granulated sugar promotes spreading and crispness.
- Shortening will make for a crunchier cookie because it lacks milk solids (sugars and proteins), while the water present in butter adds moisture.
- The molasses in brown sugar also adds moisture, leading to a chewier cookie.
- Use a higher protein all-purpose flour for extra chew and structure.