I’ve been baking chocolate chip cookies since I was 10 years old. It was my first culinary endeavor. What does that mean for you? That means I’ve messed them up every which way so here I am to share with you some of my learnings.1. Make sure your leaveners are still potent. For years I thought baking powder was just a more potent form of baking soda, just because the first batch of chocolate chip cookies I made came out flat as disks (and I blamed it on the baking soda! Rightfully so, just for the wrong reasons). If your baking soda and/or baking powder has been in your pantry for more than 6 months, toss them. If you’re baking cookies just for yourself or your family, you could take the risk if you fill guilty about tossing them. But if you’re planning to serve them to company or take as a hostess gift, do not take the chance! Use fresh leavener! 2. Use a cookie scoop! Gone are the days of using two teaspoons to artfully mold the perfect cookie mound. Using a cookie scoop is the only way to ensure each cookie is uniformly sized and shaped. I know it sucks to buy additional kitchen gadgets, but if you love cookies as much as I do, or when you realize how great it is to have frozen cookie dough stocked in your freezer to bake off when the occasion arises, you’ll be glad you have one in your arsenal!3. Use parchment paper or silicon baking mat. This might be old news for many of you, but I just cringe thinking of the days I greased cookie sheets and had to deal with the aftermath of scrubbing encrusted cookie dough off of them. They slide off parchment so easily that I’ve never looked back. I always keep my pantry stocked with parchment paper, chocolate chips, and butter so I can make these if I need a last minute hostess gift (or for a sudden attack of PMS). 4. Refrigerate your cookie dough. There’s an unmistakeable difference in texture when you bake off cookies that have had time to chill. The flavors blend, the dough rests, and the center attains a heavenly chewiness that’s consistent among the best cookie recipes. Bake times will vary depending on the temperature the recipe dictates and the size of the cookie scoop you use. I like to bake mine until the tops have the slightest blush. It may look underdone, but it will continue cooking once out of the oven and resting on the baking sheet. Be mindful not to remove it from the baking sheet right away, as it will mostly likely bend and break while in the process of transferring. 5. There is no single greatest chocolate chip cookie recipe. Your palette changes as you get older. Different recipes highlight different characteristics of a marvelous chocolate chip cookie: the nuttiness, the chewiness, the contrasting flavors. Lately I’ve been using Leit’s Consummate Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe. I like the combination of cake flour and bread flour to give it the ultimate texture – chewy while delicate. For years before switching over, I’ve used Alton Brown’s The Chewy recipe with great results. However, chocolate chip cookie recipes, like shampoo, should be switched periodically.
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