Most everyone loves cookies, but it’s the flavor and texture that really divides people. Some love chewy, soft cookies; others, thin and crispy. Some want chunks of chocolate, fruit or nuts in their cookies; others love a plain and simple cookie. There’s heated debate over whether sugar cookies should be frosted or unfrosted, and whether oatmeal cookies need raisins or chocolate chips in them or nothing added at all.
And then there’s the chocolate chip cookie.
I think it’s safe to say the chocolate chip cookie receives the most banter over what makes it perfect. Should it be crunchy, chewy, crispy or cakey? Then follows even more questions: How sweet should it be? How big? How many chocolate chips?
There may never be consensus, but I think it’s safe to say that only a few recipes have come close to what many would consider the perfect chocolate chip cookie.
To me, perfection in the chocolate chip cookie is found in a few simple, yet important variables:
What ingredients are used, how they are prepared and how the cookies are baked. After a few rounds of trial and error (and lots and lots of taste testing), I think I’ve stumbled upon the best, most foolproof recipe for the perfect chocolate chip cookie!
Here are my best tips:
High-quality ingredients = High-quality cookies
Even before you make your cookie dough, you can impact the quality of your chocolate chip cookies. It’s all about the best ingredients. I don’t mean you need to go out and buy all the top-of-the-line, expensive stuff but using the correct ingredients for your recipe will take you far into fail-proof territory.
- Start with good butter. I prefer to use unsalted butter for my chocolate chip cookies so I can control how much salt goes into the recipe (there’s nothing worse than an over-salted cookie).
- Use the right chocolate chips. Semi-sweet, or any chips with at least 60% cacao content work best. That slight earthiness and bitterness to the chocolate really enhances its flavor when it’s baked into a cookie.
- Make sure your baking soda is fresh. Old baking soda loses its oomph, leaving you with flat cookies.
The right preparation
There are a few ways to get the perfect prep for the perfect cookie.
First, make sure the butter is at the correct consistency. When it comes to baking cookies it’s best if the butter has the same softness as the soft part of your shoulder. So – yep – push lightly on your shoulder, then push lightly into the butter. They should feel similar, and that’s when you know it’s soft enough.
Second, be sure not to overmix the dough; overmixing it can cause the end result to be more cakey and airy than we want. If you mix the dough with a stand mixer, just take care not to overdo it; otherwise, it’s best to mix the dough with a wooden spoon.
Third, refrigerate the dough. You can let it chill overnight, but I found that a full 24 hours or even up to 36 hours is best for flavor rendering. The cookies end up with a deeper, more caramelized flavor than the ones that are baked right away.
Bake it best
The keys to baking the best-looking, best-tasting cookies are all in how you mound the dough onto the baking sheet, what temperature you bake them and how long you bake them.
I use a 1/4-cup spring-loaded ice cream scoop to shape my dough mounds, and place them at least 2 inches apart on the baking sheet. I also add a few extra chocolate chips to the top of the mounds so the cookies look nicer when baked.
As for the temperature, I bake them at a higher heat than is normal for most cookie recipes (400 degrees F vs. 350 degrees F). It seems to bake the cookies just right for me – so they’re golden brown and crispy on the outside but soft and chewy in the center.
There you have it – just a few simple tips and tricks to the “perfect” chocolate chip cookie. Here’s a recipe that I know you’ll love. Happy baking!
The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies
Yields: About 2 dozen cookies
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, room temperature
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 1/2 cups Gold Medal® all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 1/2 cups semisweet chocolate chips, plus more for topping
- In a large bowl or bowl of a stand mixer, cream together butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add eggs and vanilla; stir to combine.
- In a separate large bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt. Add flour mixture to butter mixture; stir until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips.
- Refrigerate dough overnight or up to 36 hours.
- When ready to bake, heat oven to 400°F. Lightly spray two baking sheets with cooking spray.
- Scoop dough into 1/4-cup mounds and place about 2 inches apart on baking sheets (you may have to do multiple batches). Place a few extra chocolate chips on top of each mound.
- Bake cookies 10 minutes until golden brown on the edges and just lightly golden in the center. Let cookies cool 2 minutes on baking sheets, then transfer with a spatula to cooling racks to cool completely.