The Best Way to Make Chocolate Chip Cookies
In this episode of The Best Way, Food & Wine associate food editor Kelsey Youngman shows us how to make next-level chocolate chip cookies. She uses several different chocolate bars she has stocked in her New York City kitchen, tops the cookies with a cinnamon- and nutmeg-laced flaky salt, and provides tips for freezing the cookie dough. This recipe yields six dozen—but hey, having extra cookies is never a bad thing. Read on for Kelsey’s key tips.
Assemble Your Wet Ingredients
The recipe calls for 2 1/2 sticks of softened unsalted butter. Kelsey says you want it to be really soft, so it creams together with the sugar more easily. Sometimes she puts the sticks on top of her oven while it preheats; she mentions that she took the butter out of the fridge the night before. However, you don’t want the butter to melt on the outside and stay hard on the inside, so be careful of that. You’ll also need 1 1/2 cups of light brown sugar, one cup plus two tablespoons of granulated sugar, three large eggs, and 1 1/2 teaspoons of vanilla extract. Once you have everything measured out in the stand mixer bowl, set them aside.
Gather the Dry Ingredients
Next, grab the dry ingredients and add them to a separate bowl. You’ll need three cups of all-purpose flour and 1 1/2 teaspoons of baking soda, which will help the cookies brown and rise. You’ll also need 1/2 a teaspoon of kosher salt. Whisk together—then, all that’s left to do is cut up the chocolate.
Bars Are the Best
Kelsey prefers using chocolate bars as opposed to chips, because she thinks they have a superior texture and incorporate into the batter better. She uses an assortment of what she has on hand—milk, semi-sweet, and bittersweet, totaling one pound—and chops it all up.
Make Sure You Fully Cream the Butter
First, you want to cream the butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla together. It’s going to take five minutes—you want to make sure the butter is fully creamed, so air is incorporated into the mixture and your cookies don’t turn out dense.
At three and a half minutes, she stops again to scrape the sides, and notes that it’s almost ready. The final result has stiff peaks and a larger volume. Make sure to scrape every bit off the mixer so you get it all in the dough.
Add the Dry Ingredients, and Don’t Overwork the Gluten
The secret to making sure your cookies aren’t tough is taking care to not overwork the gluten in the flour. You want to just incorporate the flour so there’s no visible bits left in the dough. Kelsey adds in the flour in thirds, incorporating with a spoon, and then mixes in the chocolate, dragging it through the dough to make sure everything is combined.
Chill and Wait
No matter what cookie recipe you’re using, it’s crucial that you chill the dough for at least one hour before baking. This prevents the cookies from spreading. It's just like working with pie dough—you want to use a really cold fat (aka the butter) so that when the cookies go in the oven, it doesn’t melt right away and cause them to spread out. Once the dough is mixed, cover it and chill.
Scoop the Dough…
After the dough has chilled, use a scoop to portion out the dough onto a parchment-lined baking sheet. Kelsey has to use a quarter baking sheet since her oven won’t fit a half-rimmed sheet. Her scoop measures about 1 1/2 tablespoons, and she wants each cookie dough mound to be two tablespoons, so she uses heaping scoops. She ends up fitting four cookies on each sheet.
…and Feel Free to Freeze It
Six dozen cookies (aka 72!) is a lot. So if you want to freeze some of the dough and save it for later, you absolutely can. Scoop the dough onto a parchment-lined baking sheet close together in a single layer, cover them, and pop them in the freezer. Once they’re frozen solid, put them in a resealable silicone or plastic baggie and defrost whenever you want. You can do a whole batch or even one at a time.
Learn Your Oven
With the cookie dough scooped and the oven preheated to 350° Fahrenheit, it’s time to bake. Kelsey says that she’s using an oven thermometer to check the temperature—no matter what the dial says, oven temperatures range a lot, and you have to learn your oven’s hot spots, as well as what temperature it says versus what it actually is.
Halfway through, rotate the cookies from front to back and top to bottom in the oven. Kelsey finds her cookies are ready before the full time listed in the recipe has passed, and says that you should look for visual cues that they’re done first (so, lightly browned edges and a soft center).
Add Salt and Enjoy
While the cookies are still hot, Kelsey sprinkles on the flavored flaky salt. The final product is perfect, with layers upon layers of melted chocolate. Tempted to make them? The recipe's below.
Get the Recipe: Milk-Chocolate-Chip Cookies