How to Make Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies Every Time
Whether they’re soft, chewy, and loaded with chunks of dark chocolate or crisp, buttery, and studded with walnuts and chocolate bits, there are few things as delicious as a freshly baked chocolate chip cookie. Although homemade cookies are a universally loved treat, they can be a challenge to make. Most everyone has had an experience where he or she has sifted flour and mixed ingredients exactly as the recipe specifies, only to open the oven door and find that those carefully crafted cookies are spread out, burned, or sunken in the middle. So, how do you ensure that time spent baking from scratch results in perfect chocolate chip cookies?
Baking is truly a science. It’s based on chemistry and a number of specific formulas that balance the taste, texture, and moisture in baked goods. Some ingredients create structure and stability; others tenderize. Some ingredients add moisture, and others absorb it. Some ingredients even create leavening (or rise) in baked goods. Use the wrong amount of a certain ingredient or add it at the wrong time and the formula will be altered. You’ll likely still achieve a delicious result, but it may not have the appearance or texture that you expected from your finished baked good.
Many of us haven’t considered chemistry since high school, and the thought of learning the exact science behind baking is daunting — but if you bake often, there are probably a few recipes that you wouldn’t mind perfecting. We think chocolate chip cookies are one of those recipes. With just a few easy-to-accomplish, science-based tips, your homemade chocolate chip cookies will turn out perfectly every time.
Preheat Your Oven
Make sure your oven is fully preheated before you start baking your cookies. If you put the cookies in before your oven reaches full temperature, they’ll take longer to bake. This gives the butter in the cookie dough more time to melt and spread out, and you could end up with thin, flat cookies. If you’re not sure whether your oven is ready, invest in a small oven-safe thermometer that you can keep in the oven to confirm that it’s reached the correct temperature (don't trust the "preheated" signal on the oven itself; they are notoriously inaccurate).
Cream the Butter and Sugar
Most chocolate chip cookie recipes tell you to cream the butter and sugar. When you mix the two in an electric mixer you’re actually adding air to the cookie dough, which can help your cookies bake up lighter and fluffier. Avoid too-dense cookies by making sure that you don’t skimp on time when it comes to the creaming process: keep beating the butter and sugar in your mixer until the mixture lightens in color.
Kristie Collado is The Daily Meal's Cook Editor. Follow her on Twitter @KColladoCook.