Cookie Secrets

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This is the best batch of chocolate chip cookies I’ve ever made and I attribute its success to two things: an ice-cream scoop and Diana’s cookie sheets. And maybe a 400 degree oven.

We did The Martha Stewart recipe again (still the best recipe I know) and we were nervous because even though the first time was such a success, subsequent batches have been inconsistent. Mostly, the cookies sometimes come out too puffy, or not flat and crispy enough. (We love them flat and crispy but still chewy on the inside, hot out of the oven.)

Here’s why I think this most recent batch came out the best:

– I just bought an ice cream scoop with an ice-cream release button that allows you to scoop out perfect mounds of cookie dough and plop them perfectly on to the sheet. Why is that good? Well for some reason the mounds of dough the ice cream scoop creates are the ideal shape for making flat, crispy, chewy-on the inside cookies. And every cookie comes out the same so consistency is king.

– Diana’s cookie sheets have a name, but she’s asleep and I don’t remember what it is. But they are flat without sides and they conduct heat better than my high-sided sheets. I think her cookie sheets played a serious role in making these cookies truly excellent.

– The last theory concerns the oven temperature. The recipe calls for a 375 oven but after placing my own oven thermometer into the oven I got a reading of 350 when it was set for 375. So I upped the temp to 400 which yielded a reading of 375 on my own thermometer. But here’s the thing: my own thermometer is all busted up. It’s got a layer of rust on it and when it’s not in the oven, it says it’s 300 degrees. How can it be 300 degrees on my kitchen counter? So there’s a very real possibility that I cooked these cookies at 400 degrees, which may account for their glorious crispness and flatness and perfectness.

And those are some secrets from a brilliant batch of cookies.

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9 comments

  1. In my experience, the most important but non-obvious determinants of cookie quality are the temperature of the butter and how long and hard you cream it into the batter. If you’re not careful about keeping these consistent, or you don’t know that they’re important, your cookie results will vary and you won’t know why.

  2. Josh and I made these cookies when I was pregnant with a one minor recipe change that made all the difference: an entire bag of chopped pecans added to the mix. UNBELIEVABLE. Also, using the chocolate chunks compared to the chocolate chips makes a measurable difference in how awesome they are.

  3. These look great! I totally agree with Tim, it’s all about butter temp and how long you cream.

    This recipe sounds really similar to the one I make, you should try using 1 cup of dark brown sugar and 1/2 cup granulated sugar instead. I love the way the brown sugar brings a chewy caramel flavor.

  4. Add 2 tablespoons instant espresso powder to the vanilla along with a a tablespoon of water, stir well and add the mixture to the batter. The coffee will enhance the flavor of the chocolate.

  5. I agree with Krisse, nuts help the cookies stay nice and chewy in the center and not flatten out too much. I love how Williams-Sonoma sells a “cookie dough scoop” but it’s basically an ice-cream scoop. My fellow food editor swears in our cooking gadget reviews (http://www.recipe4living.com/content/blogcategory/150/366/) that it’s absolutely essential for perfectly sized cookies.

    I like the idea of the silpat baking sheet myself.

    Can I have a cookie for breakfast?

  6. a helpful hint that i’ve learned:

    brown sugar = chewy

    white sugar = crispy

    i believe it’s the molasses that causes the chewiness. i make mine w/ a similar recipe, except that i switch the amount of brown and granulated so that there’s more brown than white.

    also, the butter temp comment is also correct. i overcreamed my cookie dough one time and they came out like BREAD!

  7. I have never been a fan of the flat and chewy, especially since I was schooled in the Mrs. Field’s approach to chocolate chip cookie baking..having worked there in college. Yours looked so scrumptious I figured I would give flat and chewy a chance. I tried Amanda Hesser’s recipe though which I had saved. Well they turned out to be flat and crispy and not altogether what I had imagined. Now I will have to try Martha..she rarely does me wrong.