Have you ever wondered why chocolate chip cookies can be chewy, crisp, soft, flat, thick, cakey, greasy, bland, flavorful, moist, or crumbly?
In this post I’m going to share with you how various ingredients and techniques can affect the taste, texture, and appearance of your chocolate chip cookies. This will hopefully help you understand how chocolate chip cookies work so you can make the PERFECT batch every time, whatever you consider to be perfect. This information will allow you to alter or create your own chocolate chip recipe that produces cookies just the way YOU like them. You’ll be an expert on the anatomy of the chocolate chip cookie.
I used the Nestle Tollhouse Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe as my control and made little changes and variations in techniques and ingredients to show you how they affect the cookie.
I halved and adapted the original Tollhouse recipe and that is what you see here. I kept everything the same through each recipe test, changing one key thing to see its effect and photographing the results for you.
Tools and Ingredients Used:
-OXO Good Grips Medium Cookie Scoop
-Chicago Metallic sheet pans
-Silpat baking mats or unbleached parchment paper
-KitchenAid 5-quart Stand Mixer
-King Arthur Unbleached All-Purpose Flour
-Fine sea salt
-Light brown sugar (except the granulated sugar recipe test)
-Unsalted butter that was at a cool room temperature (except the melted butter recipe test)
CONTROL RECIPE - Nestle Tollhouse Chocolate Chip Cookies
Yield: About 22 cookies
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (5 ounces or 142 grams) all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 large egg
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line baking sheets with nonstick baking mats or parchment paper.
In a medium bowl combine the flour, baking soda, and salt.
In the bowl of an electric mixer beat the butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar until creamy, about 2 minutes. Add the egg and vanilla, beating well to combine. Gradually beat in the flour mixture. Stir in the chocolate chips. Scoop 1 1/2 tablespoon-sized balls and place onto prepared baking sheets.
Bake for 9 to 11 minutes, or until golden brown. Cool for 2 minutes before removing to wire racks to cool completely.
Removed baking soda from recipe and used 1/2 teaspoon baking powder. This produced results that were more cakey and puffed while baking.
Baking Powder AND Baking Soda:
Used 1/4 teaspoon baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon baking soda. This produced results that were crisp at the edges, soft in the middle, with a good amount of spread. The combination of the two leaveners produced the best results in my opinion.
Increased the flour to 2 cups (250 grams) which created a more crumbly dough and very little spread. The cookies were small yet thick and relatively undercooked (ooey and gooey) in the middle.
I replaced the room temperature butter with melted and cooled butter. Instead of creaming the butter and sugar with an electric mixer, I simply stirred the butter and sugars together then let sit for 5 minutes, until the sugar was better absorbed by the butter. This produced flatter cookies that had a shiny, crackled top reminiscent of brownies. They were also more crisp at the edges.
All Granulated Sugar:
I used 3/4 cup granulated sugar in this recipe which produced flat, white, chewy, and slightly crunchy cookies but with little flavor. Since baking soda (called for in the control recipe) requires an acid (such as brown sugar) to react, these cookies fell very flat as you can see by the way the chocolate chips protrude.
All Brown Sugar:
I used 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar in this recipe which produced thick, brown, and soft cookies with an intense butterscotch flavor. The original control recipe uses an even ratio of granulated and brown sugars. If you prefer your cookies to be flatter, chewier, or crisper, use more granulated sugar. If you prefer your cookies to be softer and thicker and have a pronounced butterscotch flavor, use more brown sugar.
24 hour CHILLED Dough:
I used the control recipe but chilled it in the fridge for about 24 hours before shaping and baking. This produced cookies that were slightly thicker, chewier, darker, and with a better depth of butterscotch flavor. If you have time, try chilling your next cookie dough for at least 24 hours, or up to 48 hours.
What questions do you have about chocolate chip cookies? Do you prefer soft or crisp, chewy or cakey, thin or thick cookies?
Check out PART 2 where I test things like cake flour, bread flour, shortening, cornstarch, and nonstick baking pans.
See chocolate chip cookie recipes I created based off the results to this experiment: