The chocolate chip cookie is a classic baked good. I don’t care how old you are, where you come from, if you have a gluten intolerance, celiac, or even if you’re vegan—you know you love these. A chocolate chip cookie is usually one of the first treats people learn to bake from scratch, and I believe any self-respecting young adult should keep a recipe on file. If you can memorize one, that’s even better (you go Glen Coco).
At this point in your life, you’ve surely come across countless formulas for this one specific cookie, and they all probably seem very similar. All the usual suspects are in there: flour, sugar, butter, a leavening agent, and, of course, chocolate chips.
However, when recipes are compared, it’s easy to see the differences in the ingredients and in the end product. This can be frustrating, especially if you like your cookies a certain way. Instead of mindlessly throwing together any old recipe, follow this guide to determine which factors influence your ideal cookie.
The Sugar Ratio
Sugar is an obvious ingredient in any dessert recipe, and it’s also an important one. While some recipes call for only granulated white sugar, the best ones use a combination of white and brown sugars. The ratio of the two sugars contributes to the overall texture of the cookie.
Brown sugar contains molasses and is wetter than its white counterpart. When more brown sugar is used relative to white sugar, the result is a moist, soft cookie. If the reverse ratio is applied and more white sugar is added, you will end up with a crisper, more crumbly cookie.
Temperature of the Butter and Eggs
These two components are essential to the flavor of the cookies and even the combination of the other ingredients. They are also special because they are refrigerated prior to baking. Some recipes require the butter and eggs to be taken straight out of the fridge and added to the dough mixture while still cold.
If the dough is cool when put into a hot oven, it will spread unevenly. This factor contributes to a thick and chewy cookie. A recipe that says the eggs and butter should be room temperature before incorporation will create a warmer dough. This will cause the dough to spread more evenly, yielding thin and crunchy cookies.
Measuring the Flour
Even though it tastes like chalk and feels like baby powder, flour is crucial to the perfect cookie. Too much flour will cause your cookies to be firm, dry, and sad. Too little, and you’ll end up with runny blobs that never stood a chance. If there’s one step you follow to a T, it’s this one. If the recipe calls for 3 cups (12 ounces) of flour, try to be as precise as possible.
#SpoonTip: Weighing the flour with a scale will provide the most accuracy. It’s a little extra work, but so worth it.
Mixing Just Enough
This step is very easy to overlook, and not many people are aware that they are committing this baking crime. You might even be able to connect some of your Pinterest fails to this small but critical mistake. The instructions “mix until just combined” or “do not over mix” were not placed in a recipe to prevent you from getting sore arms, they were placed for a reason.
I know it’s easy go a little too hard with the rubber spatula, but these directions are for the greater good. It is important to incorporate all ingredients evenly, but continual mixing could overdevelop the gluten in the batter, leading to very tough cookies that no one will want to eat.
#SpoonTip: When adding in your chocolate chips, be sure to gently fold them into your batter. If you’re clueless as to what that means, you can learn some basic baking vocab from this helpful guide.
Figuring out what type and texture of chocolate chip cookie is your favorite can be hard work, and it might take a few tries to know which one really speaks to you. Now that you know the influence certain that factors have on this timeless creation, get to testing and try as many as you can!