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10 Tips for Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies

I don't believe there is a recipe for a perfect chocolate chip cookie.  Everyone has their own opinions about what makes a chocolate chip cookie great.  Some people like soft, some chewy, others flat and crispy.   But there are a few tips that can make your favorite chocolate chip cookie even better.

I am slightly obsessed with the science behind baking (I think I watched too many Good Eats episodes in my younger days) but through all of my reading and watching, these are some tips that are pretty universal.

Use good ingredients.  

There are so few ingredients in cookies that the better quality ingredients you use, the better the product.  Without breaking the bank, I would recommend starting with the best vanilla and chocolate chips.

Use fresh ingredients. 

One of the reasons bakeries have really great baked goods is because their baking powder didn't sit open in a cupboard for 6 months before they baked their cookies.  The best way to solve this problem is to bake often!

Measure your ingredients correctly.

Recipes by weight are the most accurate, but most recipes you use are probably written by volume.  Make sure to level off your measuring cups and spoons, pack your brown sugar, and be careful NOT to use packed flour in your recipe.  If your flour has been sitting a while (and is in a canister with a lid) shake it up to loosen it.  You can also use a spoon to dish it into the measuring cup.

Cream your butter and sugar the right way.

The temperature of the butter and how long you cream it for matters.  The point of creaming isn't just to combine the butter and sugar.  This steps helps give your cookie structure.  The sugar pokes little holes in the butter and traps air in.  The less you beat the butter and sugar, the denser the cookie will be.  Want a lighter, fluffier cookie?  Cream a little longer (2-3 minutes until the butter is pale yellow).

Little side note:  The more you cream the butter, the more air their is in the dough.  The  more air taking up space, the more cookies you can scoop out of one recipe.  (And the more cookies you scoop out, the less calories in each cookie, so more cookies can go in your tummy!)

Beat the eggs before adding them.

Egg whites trap more air and bring more moisture to a recipe.  Egg yolks bring more fat.  So to evenly distribute these qualities, mix the white and the yolks together before adding them to the creamed butter and sugar.

(Want a chewier cookie, add another yolk to the mix.  Lighter and fluffier, more whites)

A little extra vanilla never hurt anyone.

This one speaks for itself.  But don't go overboard.
You don't want to add to much extra liquid to the dough.  

 Use a cookie scoop to dish out your cookies.

You can shape them into a ball by hand afterwards if you like, but if you use a cookie scoop or measuring cup then your cookies will all be about the same size.  Then they will all bake the same.  Big cookies and little cookies on the same cookie sheet will make for unequally baked cookies.  They also help give the cookies an even round shape. 

Use a good cookie sheet.

If your cookie sheet is too thin, the bottoms will brown quickly.  Use a thicker or insulated cookie sheet for the best results.  And throw some parchment paper on the cookie sheet.  It will keep them from sticking and make cleaning your cookie sheet a lot easier. 

Refrigerate your dough before baking. 

If your perfect chocolate chip cookie is flat and crispy, then please ignore this rule.  But if not, after you scoop the dough onto the cookie sheet, put the sheet in the refrigerator for a few minutes.  Refrigerating your cookie dough lets the fat (butter and/or margarine) in your cookie dough set up.  Then, when you put it in the oven, it takes longer for it to melt and spread.  This gives the other ingredients in your cookies (eggs, baking soda, baking powder) longer to do their job before the dough spreads out.

Cool your cookies on a wire rack.

If you leave the cookies on the hot cookie sheet, they will continue to bake.  If you pull them out at just the right time, you want to get them onto a rack so the air can circulate around them and cool them off quicker.  If your cookies seem a little underdone, go ahead and leave them on the cookie sheet for a few minutes.

I hope at least one of these tips helps make your favorite cookie recipe that much better.  Happy baking.

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