There’s really no such thing as a badly-shaped fresh hot chocolate chip cookie from the oven. It's hot and fresh and a cookie. So unless you’ve made a mistake with the actual recipe, once you put that dough in the oven and withdraw a cooked cookie, things are going to be delicious.
For some bakers, the idea of a perfectly round cookie is a difficult-to-achieve phenomenon. Then a couple of TikTokers (among them @babychrismom and @whatsgabycookin) shared a "hack" that, based on their videos, would guarantee a perfectly round cookie, so long as the cookie was handled more or less directly out of the oven.
The original video was so popular (over 18 million views) that @babychrismom did a follow-up using a clear glass to prove there was no wizardry going on in the hack, and that picked up even more steam (over 50 million views).
And sure, this does seem like a fun little hack to make your cookies look more uniform, or at least uniformly round. All you have to do is take the baked cookies from the oven, place a mug (or a glass) over the still warm dough, do a little swirl and voilà, perfectly round cookies.
But is it … necessary?
I decided to figure this out in person, using a mug and a glass and TODAY’s ultimate chocolate chip cookie recipe, with a couple of tweaks.
The tweaks or swaps I made to the recipe were these:
- I browned the butter first (noted in the swap options). Totally recommend: It really enhances the flavor. But you won't get a "light and fluffy" result from browned butter once you beat it with the sugar. You’ll get something that looks like wet, dark sand. And that’s fine.
- YouTube slow-cooking food guy Alvin Zhou has taught me the value of eschewing premade chocolate chips, and of chopping up my own from chocolate bars: The variety of chunks leads to a more fun mouthfeel and makes every cookie a little more special.
- My tried-and-true method for round-ish cookies is to roll the uncooked dough in a ball, chill it then cook it. And I tend to like large cookies. This definitely affected the results.
After letting the dough freeze overnight, it was time to start cooking. It wasn’t until the cookies were in the oven that I realized an early error: I’d weighed each dough ball to be 2.5 ounces — larger than the suggested golf ball in the recipe. That meant a problem of spread once the cookies came out — they were too large to be encapsulated in even my widest-mouth mug!
This is what happens when your cookie is too big for your mug:
They did not swirl properly at all. But they tasted great!
So, for the second batch, I reduced the size of the cookies to 1.4 ounces each, and (as in @babychrismom’s video) I baked on tinfoil instead of parchment paper.
As you can see, they emerged from the oven in a rather respectable round fashion, without the interference of a mug or a glass.
But if that's not good enough for some, here's what 1.4 ounce fresh cookies, on tinfoil, look like being swirled:
And what they look like after, having cooled down a bit:
Are they rounder, post-swirl? Ish.
Are they delicious? Totally.
If you roll the cookie dough into balls ahead of time, do you need this extra hack?
Probably not. Maybe rolling is the hack we needed all along.
Must we ask more of our chocolate chip cookies than to taste good? Does the bar on taste perfection need to be elevated to visual perfection? Not really. Can you basically get your cookies round by rolling them in balls first? Yes!
But you do you. I’ll be over here having another perfectly imperfect chocolate chip cookie.