I am sure that everyone knows by now that I have yet to make a successful plain chocolate chip cookie! No matter how many recipes I have tried, they never turn out just right...you know...chewy on the inside, crispy on the out, rustically round...and oh so good! In my baking class yesterday chef revealed the secrets to the perfect cookie. I can't believe it is so simple. The following are ways to make the perfect cookie.
1. Ingredients are key. Chef says that a lot of people skimp on the ingredients because of cost, but they play a major role in the turnout of the cookie. Cheaper "store brand" sugar has larger crystals and do not break down as smoothly as finely granulated sugar...The result is a cookie with sugar bits. Chef recommends imperial sugar. All purpose flour is good, just be sure to sift it along with the baking soda before adding to the cookies.
2. Measurement is also important. I have always wondered why my recipes turn out so differently depending upon where I make them For instance, when I lived in California my baked goods came out perfectly awesome! Then when I moved home they turn out all weird and messed up, at first I thought it was me and maybe I should seek help...maybe talk to a therapist, but then yesterday in class a light bulb went off and I realized it wasn't me it was the climate! Humid climates, such as the lovely Houston I live in have more moisture in the air...this moisture seeps into the ingredients and weighs them down...all my cookies look like flying saucers...they have too much liquid in the batter! In Cali, where it was dry...my cookies looked like cookies! Crazy! Also, if you scoop out a cup of flour with a measuring cup the weight varies each time. So in order to avoid this common error, you need to measure your ingredients on a scale, not with measuring cups...so use recipes with ounces or grams. Electric scales work best and can be found at many stores...such as Target. This is me going buy a scale for food, not me : ).
3. There is method in the madness...I mean, madness in the method ; ) Creaming the butter is overlooked, under emphasized, misunderstood...like so many things in this world. The butter NEEDS TO BE WHIPPED! This process takes a while. Whip the butter until it is light, airy, and glossy. Another common practice is to add the salt with the flour. Chef says that the salt permeates the dough more thoroughly, and dissolves better if added with the sugars. Add the sugars and salt to the butter and cream until not crystally looking. Next add the eggs one at a time, and then the vanilla. Add the flour and baking soda all at once and beat just until combined, over mixing at this point will yield a tougher cookie. Then stir in the chips.
4. Temp. Most cookie recipes say to heat the oven to 350 degrees. This is a problem because you want the oven hot enough that it quickly locks in the shape of the cookie by creating a thin crust on the outside. If your oven is not hot enough the cookies will just melt into a pancake. Thus, you should heat the oven to 375. Also, the butter and eggs should be taken out hours before baking. Room temp butter whips better. If the eggs are still cold, crack them open into a cup and then place that cup inside a bowl of hot water...this will help with the warming process without cooking them...don't use boiling water : ). Also, after creaming the butter, sugars, and eggs you find that your batter and bowl are cold - this is bad. You can do three crazy things. One - dip or rinse your bowl in hot water before using. Two - run a hot wet rag under and around the bowl while mixing. Three - plug in your blow dryer and move around bowl while mixing...blow dryer in the kitchen huh : ) The temp of the batter is important because you want the sugar crystals to melt before they hit the oven - so you are aiming for a non crystally batter before the flour is added.
I hope these tips have enlightened you in some way...they sure did help me!! I am happy to report that I have indeed made a "perfect chocolate chip cookie" I do believe in miracles!