In my quest to become the perfect wife (*cough*) I have baked perfect loaves of bread, concocted fruit pies, and whipped real cream in to our favorite desserts. I must admit, though, that the simple chocolate chip cookie has alluded me. My cookies were always hard and crispy and, often, too thin. They were hardly the savory, chewy pieces of heaven that they were supposed to be. Until now…
Somewhere over the last few months I’ve mastering the art of baking these little guys. I made a full batch tonight and they turned out great. I follow a basic recipe from the back of my Spartan brand chips titled “Real Chocolate Chip Cookies”:
- 2 1/4 cups flour
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1 cup butter
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 3/4 cup brown sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 eggs
- 1 12 oz. package semi-sweet chocolate chips
Perfect cookies start out with butter at the right temperature. It really needs to sit out in a warm room beforehand. Microwaving will leave you with some melted and some still cold. Whipping up cold butter will not give you the right texture.
I mix the cookies in one bowl by first beating the sugar in to the butter. Next, add in the vanilla and eggs. I use my Kitchen Aid mixer on about 4th speed and let in go for a couple minutes so it is very fluffy despite the package’s warning against over beating. Then I throw in the salt and baking soda – really toss it in there so it doesn’t all land in one spot. Then it’s time to slow the mixer way down and add in the flour. If you’re using a mixer that pouring shield is really handy. Finally, pour in the chips and allow the mixer to distribute them on low or “Stir” speed.
I preheat my oven at 375 F per the recipe. I grease my cookie sheets with butter regardless of whether they are nonstick or the recipe calls for an ungreased sheet. I use a regular metal spoon and butter knife to deposit little scoops of dough onto the sheets, usually a dozen cookies per sheet. I make my scoops about the size of a small walnut. If you want all your cookies to be uniform in size you can use a tip I picked up from my Mom. She uses the Pampered Chef scoops to measure out the dough.
The most important thing I have learned about baking cookies is do not overbake them. It is OK if they are barely brown on top. I look for a little browning around the bottom edges. I usually do 10 minutes for the first batch and 8 minutes once the cookie sheet is already hot. I take the cookies off the sheets immediately and place them on a cooling rack. Then my next batch goes right on the sheets and back in the oven. If you run out of room on your cooling rack and have to leave the last batch on the sheets be sure to pull them out of the oven early (about 6 minutes in for me) because they will keep cooking until the sheet cools.
Once the cookies are completely cool seal them in an airtight container with a piece of bread. The bread will get hard and keep the cookies soft. Serve with milk for dipping, of course! 🙂
I hope this will help if you’re struggling with your cookies like I did. Is there something that challenged you in the kitchen? Any advice for working around it?
One last tip, I almost forgot: if you’re out of brown sugar or avoid it you can substitute with white sugar and maple syrup. In this recipe I used a total of 1 1/2 cups white sugar and 2-3 tablespoons of local maple syrup. For us this is a completely local option when we use Pioneer sugar. The cookies come out slightly lighter in color but are otherwise the same.