Though I’m usually the person that says there can never be too much chocolate, my favorite cookie is not a chocolate sandwich cookie, nor a double chocolate cookie, not a chocolate crinkle cookie. My favorite cookie is the classic, tried and true chocolate chip cookie – a basic cookie dough with chips (or better yet, chunks) of chocolate throughout. Despite this cookie being the classic, most popular cookie around there is not one single version of the cookie. Some versions are cake-y, some are dense and chewy, some are brittle and crispy. I harbor no ill will to any of these varieties of chocolate chip cookie, but my choice (if given a choice, which to choose amongst chocolate chip cookies might be my own version of Sophie’s Choice) is for a dense cookie that has a slight crisp to the edges, but a chewy center.
If you understand the ingredients of the cookie and what it does for the final result, you can customize how you make your cookies and hopefully make it the same way every time. For consistency, the first tip is to measure your ingredients properly. Weighing ingredients is the most accurate method and ensures you will add the same amount every time. If you don’t have a weigh scale, you can spoon your flour and sugar into a volume measure and then level it off with a butter knife – don’t scoop the flour because you’ll compress the flour and end up adding more than you need to. Flour forms the structure of your cookie, so it’s important to measure it correctly. Weigh your ingredients and you’ll be on your way to consistent results.
Butter is another really important ingredient in your cookie and how you treat that butter has a direct effect on the results. Butter adds tenderness and flavor, but if you cream the butter you’ll end up with “cakier” cookies. If you melt the butter, on the other hand, you’ll end up with more a dense cookie. I’ve given you the instructions for both methods below.
Sugar obviously makes the cookie sweet, but it also adds moisture because sugar is hygroscopic (loves and absorbs water). White sugar and brown sugar have different flavors, and adding a little of both gives you the best of both worlds.
The eggs are important to the cookie because they also add moisture and tenderness, but they also help to leaven the cookie. By beating the eggs well, air is incorporated into the structure of the eggs and that air expands when it bakes and helps to leaven and lighten the cookie. What is important is to beat the eggs before you add flour to the cookie dough. Once the flour is incorporated into the mix, only mix the dough enough to get the ingredients together. Try not to over-mix.
Now of course, chocolate is possibly the most important ingredient in the cookie (if you’re me!). Choose really good chocolate chips (or chunks) because these will make or break your cookies.
You’ll notice that this cookie recipe tells you to make the dough today, but bake the cookies tomorrow. That is because letting the dough rest overnight really enhances the flavor because with time the starch in the flour breaks down.
With all this knowledge of the ingredients, it doesn’t take much to see how changing them around or treating them differently will have various effects on the outcome. The good news is that it’s tough to make a “bad” chocolate chip cookie, but with a little knowledge you can probably make your favorite.