When it comes to cookies, America has a love affair with the classic: chocolate chip. There has been much debate on what makes this iconic sweet treat the best. To clear the air, we've taken a neutral approach; we will share the different ingredients and techniques that can change the texture, flavor, and consistency of a chocolate chip cookie.
Growing up, only one chocolate chip cookie recipe existed and it was located on the back of the a package of Nestlé Toll House chocolate chips. Using equal amounts of brown sugar and granulated sugar, the iconic cookie had the perfect chew to crunch ratio. According to Serious Eats, if you're wanting a cookie that is a bit more chewy and thick, brown sugar is your best friend; but, if your idea cookie is crunchy and think, go for the granulated stuff. Why? It all has to do with moisture and pH. Since brown sugar contains molasses, the overall pH is more acidic requiring an alkaline to balance it. Sugar, regardless of the molasses content, is hygroscopic - meaning that it absorbs moisture from the air.
The biggest debate with chocolate chip cookies comes down to the temperature of the butter. From softened to semi-melted to melted, these each produce a different type of cookie. Basically, the softer the butter, the softer the cookie. Mel's Kitchen Cafe has a great article to showcase how butter can effect the outcome of the cookie, particularly with the shape. For us, when we're feeling jazzy, we love to this recipe for brown butter chocolate chip cookies from Joy the Baker.
After making the dough using your favorite type of sugar and butter temperature, it's time for the biggest debate: to chill or not to chill. If you take the time to chill the dough, your taste buds will thank you. When you take the time to let your dough chill and rest, it is able to meld the dry and wet ingredients. If time allows, try to aim between 24 to 72 hours according to Jacques Torres, our favorite chocolatier (here's his recipe).
The final element of your chocolate chip cookie experience, is how long and at what temperature to cook your cookies. Most recipes rely on the standard 350 degree temp while the cooking time can vary for your preferred style of cookies. Less time equals doughier cookie; more time equals crispier, crunchier cookie. Interestingly, the classic Toll House recipe bakes its cookies at 375 degrees.
So, what type of chocolate chip cookies do you like? Share your favorite recipes and techniques with our team and we'll do some experimenting in our next newsletter.