Chocolate Chip Cookies
Do you have your own perfect chocolate chip recipe yet? I think I have finally found mine. These XXL chocolate chip cookies are crispy on the edges, but chewy in the middle. They're loaded with dark chocolate and they have a not-too-subtle hint of sea salt, because I am a sucker for salted-chocolate-anything. Also, they're thin and crunchy, not thick and cakey. But here's the thing: my preferences are most likely not the same as yours. I have tried numerous chocolate chip cookie recipes, all claiming to be "foolproof" or "the best ever" or "perfect" and "unbeatable". And sure, they are all going to taste good... but why?! What does every single ingredient contribute and how do I manipulate a recipe to get the cookies exactly the way I want them? That's why, a thousand cookies and a hundred hours of reading about the science of cookie baking later, I came up with a step-by-step guide to create your own perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe.
Before we continue to the Cookie Guide, let's talk through the traditional list of ingredients and what they do. Recipes traditionally start out with room temperature butter, creamed together with sugar (either 100% granulated or a mix of different kinds). Butter gives your cookies moisture, texture and a lot of depth in flavour. That's why substituting butter for shortening or oil will never render the same result: butter has a rich, distinct flavour. If you use melted butter instead of room temperature butter, your cookies will be more "cracky" on the surface. Cold butter is more difficult to work with, as you have to cream the butter for a few minutes to make a light and fluffy butter+sugar mix. I don't recommend it!
Now, as for the sugar: sugar makes cookies sweet (duh), but it also serves other functions. When you heat up sugar (like you do in the oven), it crystallizes and promotes browning of your cookie, giving it that attractive look. It also helps retain moisture and because of it's absorbing powers, it also helps to reduce gluten development, making for an extra tender cookie. What type of sugar you choose, depends on your own preferences. White granulated sugar is suitable for almost any recipe because it is a neutral tasting sugar. Light & dark brown sugar are granulated sugar with molasses added to it. This gives the sugar extra moist-retaining abilities, so using brown sugars make your cookies extra chewy. Dark brown sugar has the most molasses added to it and thus provides the most moisture. Importantly, brown sugar has acidity which reacts with baking soda, making your cookies more tall rather than flat. White sugar doesn't have this property. Muscovado sugar is an unrefined cane sugar. Because it is minimally processed, the molasses is naturally present in this type of sugar, making it suitable for use in baking where a strong molasses flavour is desirable like in gingerbread.
After creaming the butter and sugar, traditional recipes call for the adding of egg. This helps bind the dough together and it helps the cookies spread out whilst they bake. After this step, some recipes add a teaspoon of vanilla extract for extra flavour. That is it for the wet ingredients. As for the dry ingredients, plain flour is mixed with some salt and baking soda. Some people say baking powder makes your cookies more cakey, but I haven't experienced this myself. Truth be told, I've baked cookies using just soda, just powder, or a mix of both, and I find it hard to tell the difference. I settled with using baking powder, because it doesn't need any acidity like baking soda in order to make the leavening happen. That way I don't have to add anything else, because I don't use acidic brown sugar in my recipe.
The amount of flour you use determines the structure of your cookies. A 1 to 1 ratio of flour to butter will make your cookies very thin and spread out, whereas by adding a lot more flour, they will hardly change shape as they bake. Some people like adding some bread flour, which will make your cookies more dense and chewy because of the higher protein content (=more gluten development).
Now, let's talk salt. You cannot underestimate the importance of salt in any baking recipe. Adding salt makes the flavour of all other ingredients pop. This is especially true for chocolate if you ask me. About that chocolate: you can use any type of chocolate you prefer, ranging from white to 98% cocoa dark chocolate. Whatever floats your boat! That being said, it is time to turn to the step-by-step guide to creating your own perfect chocolate chip recipe. Ready? Go!
The Guide to Creating Your Own Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe
Every baker needs their own hallmark chocolate chip cookie. But not every baker has the time or money (or appetite!) to test a hundred different cookie recipes. That's where this guide comes in. Follow the steps and create your cookie just the way you like it without all the fuzz! Following this guide you will create around 10 XXL cookies or 16 smaller ones.
Step 1: butter is where it all starts
Amount: 115 grams (1/2 cup) for Tori's Cookies. Use 130 grams for more fatty, buttery, spread out cookies. Use only 100 grams for a tougher cookie.
Temperature: room temperature for Tori's Cookies. Melted butter for a dense cookie with a cracked top.
Creaming: adds air, making your cookie more light and makes the dough fluffy. The longer you cream your butter, the more cakey the cookie will be. I settle for 1 minute with a hand-held electric mixer.
Butter alternative: should you wish to use no butter for whatever reason, I advice replacing it with equal amount margarine with a high fat and low water content.
Step 2: sugar
Amount: 200 grams (1 cup) for Tori's Cookies. These are tooth achingly sweet. Use 150 grams for more subtle sweetness, but less than that and you will seriously compromise on texture.
Type of sugar:
Tori's Cookie: 50% white granulated sugar & 50% white "basterdsuiker". (Basterdsuiker is a Dutch thing. It has more flavour than granulated sugar, just like brown sugar. I use the white and not the brown variety because I like my cookies to stay pale, to get that nice contrast with the chocolate.)
Super crunchy + pale, no molasses flavour: 100% white granulated sugar
Crunchy + chewy: 50% white granulated sugar & 50% light brown sugar
Crunchy + chewy + caramelly: 50% white granulated sugar & 50% dark brown or muscovado sugar
Just chewy, less crunch: 100% brown sugar
Creaming: cream the butter and sugar together for 1 minute to dissolve the sugar. Cream longer for more air and fluffiness.
Step 3: egg
Tori's Cookie: 1 egg
More fudgy cookie: 1 egg + 1 egg yolk
More fluffy, tall cookie: 1 egg + 1 egg white
Method: beat egg whites separately for extra rising. Just beat in the egg for Tori's Cookies.
Step 4: vanilla
Either use 1 tsp good quality vanilla extract or don't use it. If you are using white chocolate, don't use the extra vanilla, because it's already in the white chocolate.
Step 5: flour
Tori's Cookie: 130 grams (1 cup) plain flour
Extra chewy cookie: 120 grams plain flour + 1 tbsp white bread flour
Method: add to wet ingredients together but do not overmix or your cookie will be very tough!
Step 6: leavening agent
Tori's Cookie: 1 tsp baking powder
When using brown sugar: 1 tsp baking soda (acid in brown sugar reacts with the baking soda)
Method: mix with the flour before adding to wet ingredients to make it spread evenly
Step 7: salt
Tori's Cookie: 1 tsp salt in batter + 3 whole sea salt crystals or sea salt flakes on top of every cookie before baking
"Unsalted": 1 tsp salt in batter (cookies won't taste salty)
Actually unsalted: if for any reason you wish to use no salt, try adding 1/2 tsp of ground chili. This will enhance the chocolate flavour as well.
Step 8: chocolate
Add as much chocolate of any kind you like. I like to cut up 100 grams of extra dark chocolate with a serrated knife and I add some extra bits to every cookie once I've placed the cookie dough scoops on an oven tray so you can really see large bits of chocolate on top of the cookies once they're done.
Step 9: baking
Tori's Cookie (XXL!): bake scoops the size of 1 tbsp for 8-10 minutes on 190 degrees Celsius, watching your cookies like a hawk after the 8 minute mark so you don't overbake them. I like my cookies underbaked, with crispy edges but soft inside.
Completely baked: bake for 12 minutes on 190 degrees Celsius
For smaller cookies, decrease the baking time around 2 minutes.
Make sure to spread your cookies enough so they don't overlap when they start to spread in the oven.
Hopefully this guide was a bit helpful in deciding what the recipe for your own perfect cookie should look like. For those of you who just want to replicate the cookies shown in this blog post, here's my own preferred recipe.
Tori's Favourite Choc Chip Cookies
Preparation time: 15 mins - Baking time: 8-10 mins - Total: 30 mins - Yield: 10 XXL cookies
115 grams butter on room temp
100 gr white granulated sugar
100 gr white "basterd" sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
130 gr plain flour
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp salt + extra salt crystals on top of cookie
100 gr dark chocolate + extra chunks on top of cookie
Preheat your oven to 190 degrees Celsius and line an oven tray with parchment paper.
Cream the butter for a minute with a hand-held electric mixer, then add the sugar and cream for another 2 minutes.
Add the egg and vanilla and mix to incorporate.
Combine the flour, baking powder and salt in a separate bowl and mix. Then add to the wet ingredients, being careful not to overmix.
Chop up 100 grams of dark chocolate with a serrated knife, created uneven bits. Fold into the cookie dough.
Make your hands slightly wet (so the dough doesn't stick) and shape round dough balls the size of a pingpong ball.
Spread out on a baking tray leaving enough room in between. Add some extra chunks of chocolate on top of every cookie, plus some salt flakes or crystals.
Bake the cookies so the edges are crispy and golden but the middle is still soft. This takes around 8-10 minutes, but watch the cookies like a hawk.
Leave the cookies to cool on the baking tray for 10 minutes, allowing the middle to set just a bit more before transferring them to a cooling rack for another 5 minutes. Enjoy!
Be sure to take some pictures of your cookies ;)
Thanks a lot for reading and I hope all of you will have a lovely 2019,