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how to preheat the oven & what tools to use.
This is something we don’t mention often, but it’s a good reminder. Preheat the oven until it reaches the correct temperature. If you try to bake cookies (or anything) while the oven is preheating, they will cook at all the wrong temperature and come out super weird looking and probably crunchy on bottom and sticky on top. Use the paddle attachment (pictured below) of your stand mixer. If you don’t have a stand mixer, a hand mixer will work fine. And if you don’t have a hand mixer, those muscles of yours will have to be put in to high gear. But, it can be done.
how to really cream butter and sugar
In every cookie recipe you see “cream together the butter and sugars”. But what does that actually mean? Creaming is the process of the sugar crystals cutting into the butter creating air pockets which help make fluffy cookies. Creaming is more than just mixing. If you are ming the butter and sugar together until they are just barely combined – you are missing out an a whole lot of volume in your cookies. You should be creaming (your mixer should be on medium/high speed) the butter and sugars together for at least 3 to 5 minutes. You will be able to see the difference, well creamed butter and sugar turns light and fluffy and sticks to the sides of the bowl. Once it reaches that point, it’s ready for the eggs.
does room temperature butter matter?
Some recipes call for room temperature butter, some call for room temperature eggs, some call for melted butter, and some call for cold butter. So why? And do you really have to pay attention to the temperature of these ingredients? I should probably suggest you follow what the recipe says. But don’t get too worked up about it. To be honest, I almost always use cold butter. It takes a few minutes longer to cream in the mixer if it’s straight-from-the-fridge-cold, but it works perfect. One less step for me to bring it to room temperature (and accidentally melt it in the microwave trying to achieve “room temp”). Cold butter is just fine, it will come up to the temperature it needs to be at as you cream it with the sugar. To be honest…I think warm room temp and melted butter actually make for greasy cookies. If you find your cookies are turning out greasy – try using cold butter instead!
how to add the eggs
My #1 tip for adding eggs to cookie dough: crack the eggs in a small bowl, before adding them to the dough. This way if you accidentally get a shell in there when you crack your eggs (we all do it), that shell is not going directly into your cookies! So, crack the eggs in a small bowl, get out any shell if needed, and then mix them into your dough. To be honest, I haven’t noticed a difference of mixing the eggs one at a time or all together. BUT, I have noticed a difference in well mixed in eggs vs not well mixed in eggs. Mix those eggs up good before you add the dry ingredients. It may take a few extra minutes, but it adds another layer of fluffiness.
scrape your bowl. please.
Please scrape your bowl down. Please. Scraping the bowl down means you run a rubber spatula all along the edges to move the ingredients that are stuck on the sides, back down into the bowl. Scrape your bowl after every ingredient is added. Otherwise, you’ll end up with a random ribbon of butter or eggs running through your cookies causing some cookies to go flat, or making a not super pleasant bite in others. Butter is delicious, but no one wants a whole biteful of butter in their cooke (or cookie dough). This step just makes for perfectly mixed cookies.
what to do with dry ingredients
Cake flour is lighter and fluffier than AP flour (all purpose – the flour you usually use). Many of the cookie recipes I make use a combination of AP flour and cake flour. In these recipes you can use all AP flour if you don’t have cake flour on hand. Your cookies will not be quite as soft and fluffy. But, they are chocolate chip cookies so they will still be delicious. Use ¾ cup AP flour in place of 1 cup cake flour. You can find cake flour in your baking aisle at the grocery store, or you can purchase it here.
Is sifting dry ingredients really necessary? First off, sifting is the process of shaking your dry ingredients through a sieve to get rid of any chunks and to create an accurate measure. Do you really need to sift dry ingredients?! Some say yes. I say…no. Now, there are some instances that you do need to sift, like macarons, but for your average chocolate chip cookie, you will be just fine not sifting the dry ingredients. However, I do suggest putting all your dry ingredients into a bowl, mix it slightly, and then add it to your butter/sugar/egg mixture. This helps to get all your dry ingredients in at the same time and to avoid any large pockets of soda, or salt etc, and it helps to avoid the problem in the next step…
don’t overmix your dough.
I’ve always heard this, but now I believe it. You want to mix your dry ingredients until they are just BARELY incorporated. Overmixed dough creates tough and flat cookies. How do you know if it’s overmixed? If your dough has that super sticky sounds when you pull a piece off – that perfect. If it doesn’t have that sticky sound – overmixed dough! BUT – don’t throw it away or be too upset. It will still be a delicious chocolate chip cookie, especially warm right out of the oven. Just not quite as fluffy as it could’ve been. This is what you want your dough to look like before you put your chips in.
it’s all about the chips.
Good quality chocolate goes a long way. I prefer Guittard chocolate chips. Their milk chocolate chips are bigger than other brands, bringing more height to your cookies, and more chocolate to each bite. If your cookies are looking a little flat, try using the Guittard milk chocolate chips and see if that makes a difference. When I call for mini chips in my recipes – really do use the mini chips! They add a perfect amount of chocolatey moistness.
This is something I did not want to believe. Because no one wants to wait an extra 10 or so minutes before putting their cookies into the oven. But, chilling your dough, believe me or not, creates the most perfect cookie texture. Do a test run if you don’t believe me. That being said, sometimes I don’t chill my dough because gosh darn it I just want those cookies. And they are perfectly delicious without being chilled. But if you chill your dough, it adds a nice crunch on the outside, and a perfectly gooey inside.
baking the cookies.
Bake your cookies on parchment paper or a baking mat. This provides a little barrier from direct heat, plus it adds for easy cleanup. Generally, cookies are baked at 350. I have recently discovered cooking my cookies at 375, they result in a taller, fluffier, and gooeier cookie. You can clearly see the difference below. The left cookie is super moist and fluffy – it was baked at 375. The right cookie was baked at 350 and is a lot flatter and not as moist and fluffy inside.
how to freeze cookie dough.
If you aren’t cooking all your dough at once, it is super easy to freeze the dough and have it on hand for any night you are craving warm chocolate chip cookies. Roll all the dough into the size cookie dough balls you want and place on a baking sheet. Place this baking sheet in the freezer (or the fridge works fine too) for 10-20 minutes. Then, take those cookie dough balls and place them in a zip-lock bag and put them in the freezer. When ready to bake, allow them to thaw for 20-30 minutes. If you don’t want to wait that long for your cookies to that – then yes you can just throw them in the oven. They’ll just take a little longer to cook – so adjust your cooking time accordingly.