how to make the perfect chocolate chip cookie

how to make the perfect chocolate chip cookie

The art and science behind every amazing batch

The great debate: dark chocolate or milk chocolate? Soft, chewy or crispy? And what’s all this buzz about oat milk chocolate? How to make the perfect chocolate chip cookie is a question that’s always up for debate, and as experts in all-things chocolate, we know that there’s more than one correct answer. We’ve done an abundance of research (with plenty of taste tests included) and run the full gamut of recipes to find out what really makes a chocolate chip cookie great.

While personal preferences vary from one chocolate-lover to the next, we discovered that great chocolate chip cookies all have a few things in common. We’re here to give you the basic breakdown, unpacking the most rudimentary elements of delicious chocolate chip cookies. Whether you’re a milk chocolate or dark chocolate fan, the secret behind every amazing batch really comes down to science—and understanding what, exactly, happens when you put all your ingredients together. Not just in the mixing bowl, but on a molecular level. Truth is, there’s no wrong way to make a chocolate chip cookie. It all depends on your personal taste.

So how do you take a traditional cookie recipe and turn it into the cookie of your dreams? The best answer comes down to mastering 8 base ingredients.

SPOILER ALERT: your chocolate of choice is one them.  

The 8 Base Ingredients of Every Chocolate Chip Cookie:

  • Fat
  • Sugar
  • Flour
  • Eggs
  • Flavor
  • Salt
  • Leavening
  • Chocolate (you guessed it!)

Let’s take a deeper look at each ingredient—and how to dial them in for more delicious results:

1) Fat The type of fat you choose impacts moisture, which determines how soft, crisp or fluffy the finished batch will be. Using only butter will result in a flatter, crispier cookie. Using only shortening will result in a taller, softer cookie. Combining the two provides the best of both worlds! If you start with a recipe that calls for shortening and you want to substitute butter, you just increase the volume by 20% to compensate for any moisture that is lost during baking. Vegan butter options fall into the shortening class, but still delivers the buttery taste that every chocolate chip cookie is known for.

2) Sugar Many recipes start with an even mix of light brown sugar to granulated cane sugar. The combination allows for a soft yet chewy texture, and a slightly caramelized taste. Increasing the amount of light brown sugar and decreasing granulated sugar will develop a very moist and chewy center, and doing the opposite will create a more firm, crunchy texture. Swapping in other types of sugar can increase or decrease chewiness, depending on the moisture content of the sugar itself. Pro tip: always use granulated sugar over a liquid sugar in order to maintain the integrity of the dough

3) Flour “Standard” or “all-purpose” flour was given its name for a reason. It’s the go-to ingredient for making any kind of cookie. However, there are all different kinds of flour, and swapping in a different kind than the one on your recipe card can be a game-changer when it comes to texture. Switching to bread flour will dramatically increase the chewiness of your cookies. Subbing some or all of it with wheat flour will dial up the density, making your cookies even more chewy if desired. Heads Up: completely swapping wheat flour for all purpose makes it more challenging to get a full bake without burning those precious cookies.

4) Eggs Ah, yes…the glue of the cookie. In addition to bringing all of the ingredients together, eggs add (you guessed it) moisture! Without eggs, cookies become dense and chewy. There are several substitutes out there, some that work better than others. One option that works quite well is 2 tablespoons water, 2 teaspoons baking powder, and1 teaspoon vegetable oil for 1 egg. Want to make it vegan? Replace 1 egg with a ¼ cup of carbonated water.

5) Flavor What’s a cookie without flavor? While vanilla extract is the common choice, there are other options that can make an everyday chocolate chip cookie extraordinary. Subbing ½ of the vanilla with almond extract offers a slight sweetness and pairs nicely with added nuts or dried fruit. Spices like cinnamon, cloves and nutmeg can be added by the ¼ teaspoon give your cookie a warm, wonderful pop of flavor, too. Be careful: a little bit of spice goes a long way.

6) Salt Salt is often overlooked, and way underappreciated! In addition to balancing the sweetness of a cookie, it plays an important part in the strength of the dough, allowing the chewy texture to develop during baking. Changing the type of salt will produce various tastes and nuances in the finished product. Mix it up: try experimenting with Himalayan salt, sea salt and others to find the perfect match for your signature batch.

7) Leavening Leavening is all about good chemistry. Baking soda is the most common choice because it is powerful. When combined with acid (ex: brown sugar) and heat, carbon dioxide is released, creating the “rise” of the cookie. As a rule of thumb, use ¼ teaspoon per 1 cup of flour. Alternatively, baking powder contains both baking soda and acid from cream of tartar, but it takes more volume to get a result (1 teaspoon per 1 cup of flour). If the acid source in your recipe is reduced (less brown sugar), adding baking powder will help compensate and allow the cookie to “rise.” Words from the wise: Doing a full swap is not recommended, as the amount of baking powder that would be necessary could leave a bitter aftertaste.

8) Chocolate Last but not least: the rock star ingredient in every chocolate chip cookie! Not only does your chocolate chip of choice add flavor, but also provides moisture and texture to the finished product. Cocoa content determines how sweet or bold your cookies will be. If you love a smooth, creamy chocolate taste, try using our new 48% Milk Chocolate Baking Chips. If you prefer chocolate chunks over chips, just chop up a bar of our Smooth 72% dark chocolate for a strong, rich flavor. That’s it! The art of baking perfect chocolate chip cookies, down to a science.

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