Everything You Need to Know When Making Chocolate Chip Cookies

This is a basic cookie recipe!

IMAGE Roselle Miranda

Would you believe that the chocolate chip cookie recipe is the basic cookie recipe you need to master to make other cookies? It is! There are so many lessons to learn when making this cookie that if you do master it, you can make different kinds of cookies with ease. 

One of the first things you need to know about the chocolate chip cookie is that it's a drop cookie. A drop cookie is a cookie dough that is formed by literally "dropping" the dough onto a cookie or baking sheet. 

The best thing about drop cookie recipes is that most don't require anything else other than mixing the dough and baking it right after. There is little to no required chilling, shaping, filling or topping of the cookie dough. Unless you want to do these extra steps (which you certainly can!), you can make a batch of delicious, irresistible chocolate chip cookies in under an hour! 

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Photo by Pixabay

1 Preheat your oven. 

This is a given. Every baking recipe should start with this step, especially if there is no chilling or refrigerating involved. Preheating your oven ensures that when you finally do place your cookie dough-laden tray into the oven, the dough balls will immediately start baking. The most common baking temperature is around 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Some recipes will call for a cooler or hotter temperature but the key here is to set your oven to that temperature before starting. 

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If you fail to do this, you will end up with flatter chocolate chip cookies. Even if you intended for the cookies to be flat, it will be even flatter than you intended. This is because in the time it takes for the oven to heat up to the right temperature, your cookie dough will have either thawed out and gotten soft or begun to melt the butter in the dough. Either way, your cookie will not look appetizing. Plus, that first batch will bake longer than you think and the succeeding ones will suffer if you don't adjust your baking time. 

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2 Prepare your ingredients and equipment. 

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Also known as mise en place, getting your ingredients and equipment out on the counter before you even start mixing anything accomplishes two things: one, you can measure and otherwise prepare your ingredients and bring out gadgets needed as indicated in the recipes and two, you can determine if you even have all the ingredients and tools needed to make the recipe. 

This is where you can determine if you need ingredient substitutes and substitute methods to accomplish the same results. You can swap out the chocolate chips and use chocolate chunks chopped from a whole chocolate bar or change the white sugar to brown sugar so your cookie can be the chewiest ever. You can also determine if you can do all this using a stand mixer or an electric mixer. Maybe you don't have any tools at all and need to account for the time that you need to hand mix everything. 

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This is also the time to read over your recipe and determine if you want to change anything to the recipe. What if you want a cookie that is not chewy but crispier than just chewy all over? You can change the ingredients using this guide to make your favorite kind of chocolate chip cookie

All this preparation even before you start putting ingredients together will make you a better baker as well as a better cook. 

Photo by Pixabay

3 Beat wet ingredients together. 

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Time to make your cookie dough! Since you have all the ingredients and are prepared with the tools you need, you can make your dough. Start by creaming the butter and sugar (or sugars) together. Creaming is the method of beating the fat (usually butter) and sugar together until the fat has lightened. 

This is followed by adding and beating in the large eggs one at a time. Unless otherwise stated, almost all baking recipes use large eggs as the standard size of eggs. If you have medium eggs, use this quick table to see how many medium eggs you need as a substitute for the large eggs: 

# of Large Eggs = # of Medium Eggs
1 large egg = 1 medium egg
2 large eggs 2 medium eggs
3 large eggs = 3 medium eggs
4 large eggs 5 medium eggs

Once the eggs are in, add in the extract of your choice. Normally, this is vanilla but there are other extracts out there that may make this flavoring too ordinary for your tastes. If that's the case, swap it out for your choice of flavoring and stir it in (Mint, cinnamon, toffee, or even coffee extracts all sound delicious, too)!

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Whisk flour with other ingredients to mix it well and crumble any lumps.
Photo by Pixabay

4 Stir in the dry ingredients.

All the wet ingredients are mixed, so the next step is to add the dry ingredients. For this stage, we suggest you skip sifting those ingredients into another bowl. Instead, we say sift if you want and if you do, sift it directly into the bowl that already contains the other ingredients. 

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Sifting is an optional step because sifting is usually done to make the batter lighter and to make the textures all uniform. No lumps! However, for cookie dough, this is optional. The only thing you may need to sift, if at all, is the baking soda which can form little clumps. Do note that if your entire package of baking soda has hardened, it may be due to be thrown out. Use a new package since this hardened baking soda might have absorbed undesirable flavors already. 

Apart from the flour and baking soda, the last dry ingredient is also the salt. Always add salt to baked goods because salt is the opposite of sugar and when added together, the salt emphasizes the sweetness of your cookies. Plus, it adds a nice balance of flavors in your cookies. 

To stir in all these dry ingredients into the wet, use a large silicone or rubber spatula. The large surface of the spatula ensures that you can mix the two mixtures together well. 

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Photo by Richard John from Pixabay

5 Choose your chocolate chips. 

What's so great about chocolate chip cookies is that the chocolate chips are necessary for it to be a chocolate chip cookie. These cookies are not chocolate chips without them! So, if you're using chocolate chips, perfect! If not, you can swap out those chocolate chips with chunks. You can even swap out the kind of chocolate, too. Here's where you can customize your chocolate chip cookie and make it dark, white, milk, or even all three!  

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Once you decide, stir it in just until it's evenly distributed throughout the cookie dough. 


Photo by Pixabay

6 Form your cookie dough balls and give it room.  

Since the chocolate chip cookie is a drop cookie, once you have your cookie dough mixed, use a tablespoon to scoop and then drop the tablespoon full of dough onto a parchment-lined cookie sheet. (While it's unnecessary to line the baking sheet for chocolate chip cookies, the parchment paper makes clean up easy when you're done baking.)

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You can roll the cookie dough, too, to make more uniform-looking cookies. However, if you don't want or need that, dropping the dough onto the sheet works. You can even use a scoop to portion your cookie dough into even sizes! 

When placing on the baking sheet, remember to leave at least 2 inches between each cookie. These cookies will spread and unless you want one giant cookie, giving each dough ball space will ensure that you have individual cookies to munch on once these are done baking. 

 

Photo by Pixabay

5 Underbake the cookies. 

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The dough is portioned on the cookie sheet, time to bake it. The ideal time for a ping pong ball-sized ball is around 8 to 12 minutes, depending on the temperature of your oven. The key point here is to underbake the cookies. Unless you want crispy cookies, underbaking ensures that the cookies are soft on the inside, regardless if you want your cookie edges to be soft or crispy. 

If you're unsure, it's best to bake it for the 8 minutes, test to see if you like the consistency, and then bake it even further as desired. After all, you can't unbake something. Best to be safe than sorry that you didn't get a soft cookie. 

Photo by Mark Jesalva

6 Just eat it! 

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Once baked, cookies are best removed after at least 1 minute on the baking sheet. This ensures that the cookie is no longer too soft and that the bottoms have hardened slightly enough so you can lift it off the baking sheet without it falling apart on the cooling rack. 

Let the used cookie sheet cool completely before placing a new batch of cookie dough balls on it to prevent those dough balls from melting before it reaches the oven. 

Once on the cooling rack, you can opt to eat a cookie while still warm or let it cool completely before devouring each one. 

Need more cookie recipes to help you make you other favorite cookies? Read on! 

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