It probably doesn’t come as a surprise that chocolate chip cookies take the title of most popular cookie flavor in the United States. After all, what’s not to love about a rich buttery cookie dotted with bits of chocolate?
While each baker has their own take on chocolate chip cookies, these desserts have been favorites from their creation in the 1930s to the present day. However, we have to admit some variations of this classic recipe are better than others.
If you’re wondering how to make chocolate chip cookies better, check out the following ideas.
Many recipes instruct you to cream the butter and sugar before adding eggs and dry ingredients. When you beat butter, a plethora of tiny air pockets become trapped inside the fat. This is why creaming butter leads to a lighter color as well as an increase in volume.
When these air pockets hit the heat of the oven, they expand to create a fluffy cookie. While some people love this light texture that’s reminiscent of cake, not everyone does.
If you’d like a chocolate chip cookie that is dense and chewy, try melting the butter before adding other ingredients. This step will limit the formation of air bubbles and lead to a more condensed cookie.
Just because they’re called chocolate chip cookies doesn’t mean you need to rely solely on chocolate chips! Adding multiple types, sizes, and textures of chocolate can add layers of depth and intrigue to your cookies.
Try starting with bars of semisweet and dark chocolate and chopping each one into bite-sized pieces. The larger chunks and small shreds will offer eaters a surprise in every bite.
Using chocolate bars instead of chips also allows you to start with high-quality chocolate you may not be able to find in chip form.
After you mix up your cookie dough, pop it in the refrigerator for a few hours or even overnight. As the dough sits, the proteins and starches break down and rearrange to create complex butterscotch and toffee flavors.
When it comes time to bake your cookies, it’s important to note that a cooler dough will spread less evenly than a warmer dough. So if you prefer flat cookies, let the dough cool to room temperature before scooping the cookies onto your baking sheet.
Both baking and cooking are all about balance. While chocolate chip cookies are known for sweetness, they’re often best accompanied by a mug of coffee or cup of cold milk, as sugar alone can lead to flat flavors.
Adding salt to the dough helps create a more balanced flavor and cuts the sweetness. However, sprinkling a few grains of coarse salt on top of each cookie before baking will create a distinctly salty flavor to counteract the sweetness.
Most chocolate chip cookie recipes call for a mix of both white and brown sugar. While both of these sugars add sweetness, they impact the cookie’s texture in different ways.
White sugar is pure crystallized sucrose, a larger sugar molecule composed of the simple sugars glucose and fructose. This sucrose has a close-to-neutral pH and also holds just a little bit of moisture.
Brown sugar is mostly crystallized sucrose, but it also contains small amounts of glucose and fructose which help it retain more moisture than white sugar. This darker sugar also contains trace minerals such as iron, calcium, and magnesium. These minerals not only lead to nuanced flavor notes but also make the sugar slightly acidic.
So, how does this impact cookies? Since white sugar is neutral in pH, it does not interact with the alkaline baking soda to help the cookies rise. This results in a flatter and wider cookie. Additionally, since white sugar does not hold much moisture, the dough loses moisture and becomes crispy during baking.
The acidity present in brown sugar reacts with alkaline baking soda to create a risen cookie. And since the brown sugar holds onto moisture, cookies made with a majority of brown sugar will remain moist and chewy rather than crunchy.
When it comes to chocolate chip cookies, even a 50ºF difference in oven temperature can lead to a big difference in the final product.
Lower temperatures like 275ºF or 325ºF provide the cookies with time to spread, which creates flatter cookies that have similar textures on both the edges and centers.
Higher temperatures (above 375ºF) create cookies that remain taller. Cookies baked at high heat also have a bigger contrast between the centers and edges—think fluffy or chewy centers and crispy, caramelized edges.
As you’ve read above, there are many different factors that impact the texture and flavor of chocolate chip cookies. And they’re just one item on a long list of baked goods!
To explore how to improve other types of sweet and savory dishes, consider enrolling in online cooking classes. Not only can you gain access to classes ranging from Classic Foam Cakes to An Introduction to Grilling, but you’ll also have access to a professional Chef Instructor for when you need troubleshooting tips.
And if you’d like to explore more about how variables like ingredient ratios, temperatures, and mixing times affect various pastries, breads, and confections, consider enrolling in baking & pastry school. With on-campus and online options, advancing your kitchen skills may be more feasible than you think!
This article was originally published on July 29, 2015, and has since been updated.
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