Category Archives: Chocolate Chip Cookies

How to heighten the effect.

To add still more height to your already thick cookie, pretend baking guy Onofre set the oven a little too high that night, and turn the heat up to 400. This will firm the egg proteins on the outside of the dough ball faster, and bring spreading to a halt that much sooner. Of course you’ll want to compensate by baking for a slightly shorter time.

You can also pretend our mixer guy left the machine on a little too long and cream the butter and sugar until it’s extra fluffy. This will add air and volume. Adding little extra flour in the mix will give the cookies more structure.

Then of course there’s always the trick of acidifying the dough to help the egg proteins throughout the dough to set up faster…a little cream of tartar or lemon juice works nicely to prevent spread and promote thickness. In fact, this particular tip may just be the secret to perfecting the European chocolate chip cookie. There cultured butters, due to their sharp melting points, generally cause cookies to spread too far too fast. Results so far have been very promising.

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Thicker, more cake-like

This is a style of chocolate chip cookie most commonly produced at small, boutique bakeries, for reasons that have less to do with aesthetics than the way their operations run. That is to say, in bake shops you have people who mix dough, other people who handle dough and still others who bake dough — and they don’t necessarily work at the same times of day or in tight sequence.

For example, mixing guy Ray does nothing but run the 60-quart Hobert mixer all day. He comes in at 6 a.m. and makes everything from flourless chocolate cake batter to buttercream to cookie dough in quick succession, storing much of it in tubs and buckets in the walk-in (where it will keep for many days). On Monday he mixes 30 pounds of standard chocolate chip cookie dough.

Cookie shaping gal Monique also works the morning shift, but doesn’t start her week until Tuesday. However whenever she comes in she knows she’ll have a heavy tub of cold, firm chocolate chip cookie dough waiting for her, some of which needs to be divided into cookie-sized portions each day. Armed with a small ice cream scooper, she goes to work, scooping and laying out 100 small balls of dough on sheet pans. As she finishes each pan, she returns them to the walk-in where they sit on racks waiting for…

Baking guy Onofre, who comes in at 8 in the evening and does nothing but run the oven all night. His job is to pull shaped-and-ready products out of the walk-in and bake them up so they’ll be fresh for the morning customers. He goes to the walk-in, fetches the sheet pans dotted with thoroughly chilled balls of dough, and inserts them into a waiting convection oven. When the cookies are baked and cooled they look like this: thick with rounded edges.

Why? Ray the mixing guy followed the precise Wakefield recipe, and being a professional who takes pride in his work, neither failed to cream the fat and sugar (as in the thin version) nor overmixed (as in the chewy version). Which means Onofre should have turned turn out standard, classic chocolate chip cookies, right? Right, save for one thing: the temperature of the dough. When it went into the oven it was straight from the fridge, which meant the heat of the oven couldn’t penetrate through to the deeply chilled center of the dough ball before the outside of the ball began to firm. Which meant the cookie couldn’t spread. But what can’t go out (at least in the baking world) must go up. So, the cookies ended up thicker with a cakier texture than a standard chocolate chip cookie.

How to replicate those results at home? Easy: prepare the dough according to instructions, then chill it in the fridge for half an hour or so. Spoon out cookie-sized portions, roll them into nice round balls, and set them out on sheet pans like so:

Chill for an additional 45 minutes or more and bake as per the instructions. One ingredient tip that I also want to share: use cheap, mass-market American-style butter, not a higher quality Euro-style butter. Why? Because cheaper American butters tend to have slightly higher melting points, and a higher melt point will help keep the batter from spreading out.

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To heighten the effect…

Making a chewy chocolate chip cookie is mostly about adding more activated gluten. So, if you want your cookies still chewier, make them with bread flour instead of the normal all-purpose. Increasing the proportion of brown sugar vis-à-vis white sugar will also add chew (plus an even deeper, richer flavor). Why? Well, molasses is gunky stuff, let’s not forget, full of cane stalk flotsam and jetsam that interferes with sugar molecules as they attempt to pile onto one another to form crystals. The result will be sugar structures that are more like caramel than they are hard candy.

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Chewier

How do you show “chewy” in a photograph? I dunno. You’ll just have to trust me on this. The chewy chocolate chip cookie is probably the one I received the most requests for, and for good reason. Lots of chewing means more time to savor the chocolate-y, buttery, brown sugary glory that is Wakefield’s masterpiece.

This one goes pretty much by the numbers (i.e. like the printed instructions) save for one important thing, which we’ll get into in a minute. Unlike the thin cookie preparation, for the chewy it really helps to have a stand mixer to provide elbow grease. Start with softened, but not too-soft butter, since we’ll want to take advantage of everything the creaming method has to offer.

Add that to your sugars in the bowl of your mixer…

…and beat on medium-high until truly light and fluffy.

Now then I’ll add my eggs and beat to incorporate…

…but before I turn the mixer off, I’ll pretend the phone just rang in grandma’s kitchen and its her gossipy neighbor Gladys, who wants to know what that car was doing parked in front of the Rumplemeyer house all night the night before. Everybody knows Mr. Rumplemeyer has been out of town on a business trip all week. Could Madge be having an affair? She’s always giving that new bag boy down at the Phips Grocery those flirty looks. Oh no, Gladys, you’re imagining things again. I’m sure there’s a perfectly logical explanation for — my cookies! They’ve been mixing for five whole minutes!

Actually I won’t let the mixer run that long. More like a minute on medium high. Which will do what exactly? There’s flour in that bowl…there’s water in there too (thanks to the eggs). Add agitation — a good deal of it — and you get what? Gluten formation, exactly. And activated gluten makes things chewy. So I’ll just beat the tar out of this dough…

…then add my chips, spoon the dough onto the baking sheets as per usual, and bake as directed, 9-11 minutes at 375. That’s really all there is to it.

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How to heighten the effect.

To achieve thinner cookies than I’ve done, melt the butter completely before adding it to the sugar mix. Then drop the oven temperature by about 25 degrees Fahrenheit to encourage melting and spreading before the egg proteins firm up. A higher fat European butter has a sharper melting point, and is a sure-fire way to achieve spread.

Another way to go is to use extra large or jumbo eggs, which will introduce more liquid to the equation. Still not enough? Then increase the butter by 50% and melt it. To achieve crispier cookies, increase the proportion of white sugar vis-à-vis brown sugar. Don’t take away the brown sugar completely, since you’re relying on it for that caramelly taste and brown color. However white sugar firms into harder, more candy-like structures, giving the cookie a nice, satisfying crunch.

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Thinner, crispier

Here’s a variety that a lot of die-hard chocolate chip cookie lovers can’t live without: a thinnish, deeply caramelized cookie that goes crunch when you bite it. Delicious as it is, it certainly deviates from the Platonic ideal of the chocolate chip cookie as pictured on the Nestlé web site. The question is: what series of happy accidents brings it about? We’ll see.

All of us (or nearly all of us) know how to make chocolate chip cookies, so these photos will be old hat to most. However for purposes of discussion this week, I think they will be useful.

Creating a thin cookie means, first and foremost, defeating the chocolate chip cookie’s own effort to rise. Does that mean leaving out the leavening? Nope, because the baking soda is critical to the cookie’s texture. However it does mean we’ll do everything we can to under-achieve when it comes to this cookie’s backup rising strategy: the creaming method (for more on that see the menu to the right). That means no electric mixer. We’ll do these babies by hand.

Begin by combining the flour, salt and soda in a bowl and giving it a good stir.

Next, procure your butter. You want it soft, soft. Like drop-it-and-it-makes-a-puddle soft. Like great-grandma-making-cookies-in-her-unairconditioned-kitchen-in-August soft. Soft. For best results, employ a more expensive Euro-style butter, as these butters tend to have lower melt points and help the batter to spread.

Combine that with your sugars…

…and gently stir — don’t beat it — until it’s all combined. Add your vanilla…

…and your eggs one at a time, stirring them in thoroughly.

Add the flour mixture slowly…

…and again stir gently to combine.

Pour in the chips…

…and stir them in.

Spoon tablespoon-sized dollops onto an ungreased sheet pan and bake.

But first…we’ve already robbed these cookies of the fat-and-sugar pseudo-foam they were depending on to complete their rise. But is there anything else we can do in the interests of thinness? For that we need to consider exactly what it is that causes a mass of cookie to dough to initially set in the oven. Any guesses? Yes you in the front with the milk moustache. Right: egg white coagulation. The proteins in egg whites begin to coagulate and firm at about 140 degrees. That causes the semi-solid batter to stop spreading in the heat and start rising.

How to discourage this? Well, we’ll simply pretend that grandma’s oven is running a little cool, and turn the heat down to 350 instead of 375. That’ll help delay the heating of the dough and give the already close-to-melted butter a chance to run. Of course we’ll need to bake them a little longer to make up for it, say 12-16 minutes, depending on how dark you like them. Cool on wire racks and fetch the milk.

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Wakefield’s original recipe

Not that you’d have any trouble finding it, of course, but for reference sake: here is the Rosetta Stone, the Dresden Codex if you will, of chocolate chip cookie recipes:

2 1/4 cups (11.25 ounces) all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (8 ounces or two sticks) butter, softened
3/4 cup (5.25 ounces) granulated sugar
3/4 cup (5.25 ounces) packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups (one 12 ounce. pkg.) NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels
1 cup (3.5 ounces) chopped nuts

Directions:

PREHEAT oven to 375° F.

COMBINE flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels and nuts. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.

BAKE for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

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