I am sure you have all heard someone say “I have the best recipe for…” well I make no claim that this is the best chocolate chip cookie recipe, with that said this recipe does give you a really good cookie if you understand the key points and techniques of baking. I try to teach my students to understand the steps and reason we do thing in the order that the recipe calls for.
Once you understand the techniques of making a chocolate chip cookie that when things really get exciting as you do some culinary off roading and play around with ratio of ingredients and manipulation of the variables. So let's see if we can demystify some of the mystique of a good cookie.
1. Cream the butter and sugar.
2. Add the egg and then the vanilla
3. Combine the flour, baking soda and salt; mix to 50 percent incorporation
4. Add chocolate chips and mix just until incorporated.
5. Use cookie scoop to portion cookies\
6. Bake at 350 in preheated oven for 10 to 12 minutes.
Mixing Method: Creaming
Steps of the creaming method for cookies:
1. Cream softened fat and sugar
2. Add room temperature liquid ingredients to the creamed mixture
3. Add dry ingredients to creamed mixture
Volume Measurement Vs. Weight
Using a kitchen scale to measure the weight of ingredients might seem a bit weird or OCD when you first start baking at home. Using weight gives you much more control and greater accuracy. If had 10 people measure out 2 cups of flour chances are we would have at least 9 different weights if we put each person's flour on the scale to see what they weighed. Once you understand how to properly use a scale and leave the cups and tablespoons behind you are on the road to more consistent results in the kitchen.
Step 1: Creaming
Creaming - what the heck does that mean? Creaming is the mixing of softened fat (room temperature butter in this case) and sugar. The fat must be soft because the creaming process depend on the sugar crystals cutting little holes in the fat as the are pushed into the fat. So if you know hours in advance that your in the mood to make cookies then you can pull your butter out and let it come up to room temperature, if not you can always microwave it in short burst to get it to room temperature consistency (remember there is a difference between soft and melted) These little holes tap air in the dough and help with the spread of the cookies. So if you have made cookies and one time they were little balls and another time the were thin flat things that fill the tray chances are that CREAMING is why. If your butter is too cold you were not able to get much air incorporated into the dough and they don't spread as much. Or maybe you over creamed your dough. Ever leave your mixer running while you updated your Facebook status and time got away from you? The more air in the dough the greater the spread.
So how do you know when you are done creaming? You want the sugar and butter to me fully mixed together. So no lumps of butter or chunks of brown sugar then it becomes lighter, both in color and volume as you incorporate air.
Step 2: Liquid Ingredients
Most cookies are low in moisture, when compared to cakes so very often the only liquid ingredients are often the eggs and a little bit of extract. So it is very important that the eggs are the right temperature too. Just like the butter if you know in advance that you are going to be baking pull your eggs out and set them on the counter next to the butter to warm up. If you find yourself making cookies without advanced notice you can borrow this tip from Julia Child. Place your cold eggs in some hot tap water while you start making your cookies when you get to the point you need the eggs poor off the water and crack your eggs now have room temperature eggs.
Mix in the liquid ingredients, now that they are at room temperature they will emulsify right into the creamed butter and sugar mixture. Mix it until everything comes together and is evenly mixed. This is also a great time to scrape down the sides (and bottom) of the bowl with a rubber spatula, if you don’t you could end up with a higher concentration of sugar stuck to the side of the bowl and the last cookies you scoop might have more sugar in spots. These higher concentrations of sugar liquify in the oven and spread more, that is why you might have a nice round cookie with a little part that spreads more giving you a weird shape.
Step 3: Dry Ingredients
For our Chocolate Chip Cookies our dry ingredients are the All Purpose Flour, Baking Soda, Kosher Salt and Chocolate Chips. I like to use half dark and half milk chocolate when I make the cookies.
Add, the flour, salt and baking soda. Stir in until the dough starts to come together. When the dough is about 50 percent combined add the chocolate chips.
This ensures that the dough does not get over mixed. When the flour is fully incorporated the chocolate chips should be evenly distributed through the dough.
Step 4: Portion
I like to use a portion scoop to ensure that all the cookies are the same size. This helps not only with a more professional presentation of the finished product but also ensure that the cookies bake at the same rate.
Step 5: Bake
This is where you can let a little personal preference enter the mix. I tend to like a softer cookie while some like them crisp. I shoot for a happy mix with crisp golden brown on the edge and soft chewy centers. If you are of the crisp cookie persuasion simply leave them in the oven a few extra minutes.
To have a good uniform bake it is important to preheat your oven. If the oven temperature is too low (or coming up to temp) when you put that first try in the fats will start to melt and spread further before the proteins coagulate and the starches gelatinize and you will have flat thin cookies. If it is too hot the opposite occurs the proteins and starches set before the fats have a chance to spread much. So I like to cook them at 350 (325 for confection) for about 10 to 12 minutes or till they are GDB (golden brown and delicious) You know your oven best if it tends to take a bit longer then leave them in a bit longer. Cookies are so small that we judge the doneness of the bake by the color of the cookies. If you are unsure how accurate your oven is you can pick up an oven thermometer and put it in the oven when you start preheating and see what the real temperature of your oven is (never trust the dial)