Needless to say, I've had a lot of experience making chocolate chip cookies. As a kid, during the holidays, we always made a variety of cookies to be given as gifts and I was always in charge of making the chocolate chips. Sometimes they would turn out fantastic and other times they were so-so and I never knew why. Many years (and many batches) later, I've learned some important points about cookie making.
The number one thing I've learned is the importance of creaming. That's the single most important thing you can do to ensure you end up with good cookies. If you don't thoroughly cream your butter you won't introduce the tiny air bubbles that are essential for the structure of your cookie.
Start with your ingredients at room temperature. If you decide at the last minute to make cookies and all of your butter is in the fridge just pop it in the microwave for a few seconds until it softens up, but isn't melted. Then put your butter in the mixer and let it start mixing, which is introducing air into the butter. Then add your sugars. Let the butter and sugars cream at high speed until they've become a lighter color and it looks to be about double in volume. WALK AWAY IF YOU HAVE TO! Seriously, it's that important.
The next very important step to keep in mind is to add all of your dry ingredients ALL AT THE SAME TIME. Don't add a little of the flour, then mix, then add a little more, then mix... by doing this you're developing the gluten (a protein in the flour). If you develop the gluten too much you will have very heavy bread-like cookies and not the tender cookie you're looking for. Very slightly under-mix the flour and then add your chips and nuts (if you're using any). The reason for this is that you'll continue to develop gluten when you mix in your chips, but if you under-mix the flour, by the time the chips are mixed in the dough will be perfectly mixed.
Then scoop and bake! I use a small scooper to keep the cookies all the same size and that way they all bake in the same amount of time. If you don't have a scooper just use two spoons. If you don't want all the cookies you can scoop them into little balls, line them up on a cookie pan (they don't need any space between them), wrap them really well and freeze them. Then you can just pop a few out at a time and bake them fresh for a nice little treat. You can also roll the cookies into a log, wrap in plastic and freeze. Then slice off a few or the whole tube when you're ready to bake. (Neither of those methods have ever been used at our house.)
CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES
yield: approximately 6 dozen 2" cookies
- 1 C Butter
- ½ C Sugar
- 1 ½ C Dark Brown Sugar
- 2 ea Eggs
- 2 ½ C AP Flour
- ¾ t Salt
- 1 t Baking Powder
- 1 t Baking Soda
- 2 t Vanilla Extract
- 2 C Chocolate Chips (I use a mix of semi-sweet and milk chocolate)
- Cream softened butter; add sugars until light and fluffy.
- Add room temperature eggs, one at a time; just until incorporated.
- Sift together all dry ingredients; add to mixer on low; mix just until incorporated.
- Stir in chocolate chips.
- Scoop onto sheet pans and bake at 350 F for 12 minutes.