Investigating the Science Behind Baking the Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies

Categories: Cooking Tips & Recipes

perfect chocolate chip cookies

There’s more involved in baking cookies than you might initially suspect.

Have you ever baked chocolate chip cookies and noticed that some batches turned out differently from others? Or perhaps you went to a bake off recently and found that your neighbor’s cookies were completely unlike yours in texture and taste. The truth is that cookie baking is more than just cracking some eggs and whisking together a few ingredients. Rather, it’s a science involving numerous intricate chemical reactions, each of which plays a significant role in determining your cookies’ texture and shape.

Here are few ways you can veer from the recipe card to achieve a different look and taste for your chocolate chip cookies:

Crispy on the outside with a soft interior – Use ¼ teaspoon baking powder and ¼ teaspoon baking soda.

Warm and chewy – Substitute bread flour with all-purpose flour.

Ooey-gooey – Add another 2 cups of flour.

Nutty with a nice tan – Caramelization occurs when temperatures reach above 356 degrees. Set the oven higher than 350 to give your cookies those sweet brown spots.

Less crispy and thick – Before baking, freeze the batter for 30 to 60 minutes, that way the butter solidifies and won’t spread as much during the baking process.

Butterscotch flavor – Instead of using the same amount of combined granulated and light brown sugar, use ¾ cup of packed light brown sugar.

Like store-bought – Swap out butter for shortening. This will give your cookies a firmer texture but may reduce the flavor. Go half butter and half shortening for a more even consistency.

Uniformity – If you just want to make the best looking cookies on the counter, add one ounce corn syrup and one ounce granulated sugar.

Bring out the flavor – If you’re patient enough to wait, chilling your dough for at least 24 hours before baking will make flavors more pronounced.

Baking on a dark nonstick pan instead of a typical metallic baking sheet will significantly increase browning on the bottom of the cookies. Extra egg yolk will make your cookies fudgier with a little more softness and spread. Melted butter will achieve denser cookies, while creamed butter will make for cakier dough. As you can see, there is a ton that goes into the cookie baking process. The best part? There’s no right answer! You’re free to experiment with making your cookies just the way you like. For a more detailed look at the science behind baking cookies, check out this cool TED-Ed animation.

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