As kids, we looked forward to crunchy cookie snacks in our lunch box, and as adults we melt at the aroma of freshly baked cookies. But what makes us so cookie crazy? Why are cookies America’s favorite baked good? Could it be the endless varieties, limitless flavors, and ease of popping the two-bite desserts into out mouth? We asked several professional pastry chefs their opinion about our favorite dessert and also gathered together some our favorite cookie recipes from award-winning professional chefs, home cooks, and top-selling food publications.
Chef Jansen Chan, pastry director at the International Culinary Center, tells us that "the mobility and transport of a solid, sweet pastry makes the cookie an ideal American snack. In a nation that’s always on-the-go, the cookie is a manageable sweet snack that also showcases a wide variety of flavors." And here at The Daily Meal, we couldn’t agree more. With plenty of cookies perfect for packing and eating while out and about during a busy day, a cookie is an excellent go-to snack for a sweet pick-me-up.[slideshow:
We can all agree that cookies are musts for road trips, picnics, and well, for everyday snacking, but what are the advantages of baking your own cookies? Baking cookies teaches us about the fundamentals of baking and pastry. Jenny McCoy, pastry chef and author of Jenny McCoy's Desserts For Every Season, tell us that "If you can master the simple technique with cookie dough, it will teach you the foundation for more complex baked good, like a variety of cakes and pastry doughs." Most cookies tend to follow a basic formula: cream together the butter and sugar, add eggs, add in dry ingredients, and finish by adding the flavorings. If you can master these skills, the possibilities for more advanced dough methods are endless. Our list of 50 best cookies includes some simple butter and sugar cookies, and also more complex cookies like biscotti and macaroons.
Now that you're convinced that you can dive head first into the kitchen and whip up some cookies, we’ve compiled a list of tips that will help you make the perfect cookie. To chef Jansen, "The most crucial step to the cookie process is the bake. If it’s a soft cookie, make sure to undercook your cookie slightly, as there will be carryover heat from the cookie sheet. With a crisp cookie, bake the cookie to a nice golden brown." He mentioned a trick is to bake on parchment paper to easily see the color of the cookie underneath by lifting up the paper.
Finally, what qualities should you look for in a good cookie? Chef Jansen says that "some of the common key attributes include portion size (not too small and not too big), freshness, balance in flavor and sweetness, and presentation." Our cookie recipes run the gamut of different types, from soft to crisp and from shortbreads to fruit-filled or double-chocolate. Chef McCoy tells us her favorite chocolate chip cookies are "crisp on the edge and chewy in the center… and must be baked to a golden brown and have large chunks of good-quality chocolate."
So what are you favorite cookies and how do you like them baked? We bet you could find a few new favorites and some familiar classics among our recipes.
Emily Jacobs is the Recipe editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @EmilyRecipes.