Dropped - Chocolate Chip

SARAH SAYS: The #1 Chocolate Chip Cookie Question is,  "How can I get puffy, thick or thin, chewy, or crispy, or everything at once, Chocolate Chip Cookies?"

Many of us have had problems with the Nestle's Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe. We can't seem to bake puffy and chewy cookies, but we all love the recipe. I know because I get asked about it frequently. If you like flat and crispy cookies, bake the recipe as is. If you don't, you can make it BETTER by following these tips.

However, the most important thing to remember is that if a recipe is written to make a puffy cookie, you'll have better success in getting one than fooling around with an existing recipe with my tips, below.

 Sarah's Thick-with-a-Chew Chocolate Chip Cookies Try SARAH'S THICK-WITH-A-CHEW-CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES RECIPE.
SARAH SAYS: "Here it is, the answer to your number one baking request: the thick and chewy chocolate chip cookie! You will get a crunchy outside and a slightly chewy inside. Cookies made with this recipe will have the taste and texture that a chocolate chip cookie should. It wasn't easy to create this recipe - I went through 75 batches of cookies until I got it right. Since cookies are especially sensitive to the addition or subtraction of ingredients, testing was very intricate and took a long time, but I did succeed."

Chocolate Chip Cookie Tips
I have found that a lot of these tips seem to parallel those necessary when making a flaky pie crust, where all ingredients and the dough needs to stay chilled.

TIP #1: BUTTER & CREAMING
The Nestle's recipe calls for creaming the room temperature butter and sugar.

The goal is to end up with mixture where the butter is just light and fluffy, and stays cold.  In general, if you cream sugar with soft butter or do it too long, the butter can't form or hold air bubbles, resulting in a flat cookie. If at any time you get distracted or the dough is becoming too warm, place in refrigerator as is until chilled.

Start with CHILLED butter right from the refrigerator versus room temperature. Cut the butter into 1-inch cubes and chill again. Do not soften the butter to room temperature:
1. Take from fridge and toss it in with the sugar.   
 
2. Start creaming the ingredients together with a hand-held electric mixer, which is easier to control when making these cookies, rather than a stand one. Run the mixer over the butter lumps to break them up.    
 
3. The butter lumps will not break up easily, occasionally stop the mixer and rub the butter and sugar together with your fingertips or a pastry blender until they do. Do so quickly and deftly to prevent the butter from melting.  
 
4. Resume creaming only until the butter and sugar mixture has just turned light in color and is still slightly grainy. Do not cream past this point.  
 
5. Refrigerate the mixture right after creaming for about 10 minutes before adding the eggs in the next step. I have found that this really helps.  
 
6. Or, use HALF BUTTER & HALF SHORTENING: The Nestle's recipe uses 100 % butter, which I prefer because of its taste. But, you can substitute it, 1 for 1 with shortening.

SARAH SAYS: Shortening produces a softer, thicker, chewier cookie. Butter's melting point is lower, at 92 - 98 degrees F. It melts in the oven before the starches in the flour have gelatinized allowing the cookies ample time to spread. Shortening  on the other hand, has a higher melting point of  98 - 110 F degrees, allowing for the flour's starches to set before the butter melts, resulting in a puffier one. 

To get the best of both worlds, you can substitute half of the butter with (butter-flavored) shortening, both on the cool side of room temperature.

TIP #2: EGGS
The Nestle's recipe contains 2 large eggs. Mix them in THOROUGHLY, one at a time right from the refrigerator. Their slight chill helps to keep the butter as firm as possible through the final mixing stage. If you use room temperature ones, it will soften the texture of the dough.

TIP #3: FLOUR
The Nestle's recipe uses ALL-PURPOSE FLOUR, but add in 1 to 2 tablespoons more than the flour called for in the recipe, making sure not to add too much; extra flour will make the cookies puffier. Use bread flour for a chewy cookie: since bread flour can absorb much more liquid than all purpose flour, more moisture will stay in the cookie. Bleached or chlorinated flours also reduce spread, but I don't use them.

SARAH SAYS: If you can, I recommend you fold the flour by hand, with a large rubber spatula into the creamed sugar and butter and eggs, so as not to overmix and toughen the cookies. If you are using a stand mixer, simply pulse the machine to add in the flour, a little at a time.

TIP #4: CHOCOLATE CHIPS
Use 2/3 of the amount of regular chocolate chips or use the full amount in mini ones, instead; it helps to reduce cookie spread. There is an ample amount of chocolate chips in the recipe which causes the cookies to spread. 
 
TIP #5: DOUGH TEMPERATURE
Keep the dough chilled at all times. It allows the butter to reharden so that the dough is firm and the cookies will spread less. After forming and before baking, if the room is warm, also chill the formed cookie dough on the baking sheet. 

TIP #6: BAKING PANS
Using the right pans are essential. NON -insulated, non-stick and light colored cookie sheets, without rims are the best to use. The cookies bake the best on them.

DO NOT GREASE the cookie sheets; it will cause the Nestle's cookie to spread. Line them with parchment paper or use a nonstick mat, as either one works best for preventing it. 

TIP #7: OVEN 
Preheat the oven and use an oven thermometer to measure accuracy. If the oven is too hot, the cookies will spread too much when placed inside. Position a rack in the center and place the cookie sheet in the center of the rack. If using more than one, position a rack just above the center and one just below. Stagger the cookie sheets between the two. If necessary, rotate halfway through baking and switch the sheets on the racks.

TIP #8: CONSISTENT DOUGH SIZE
Make sure the SIZE of each cookie dough portion on the baking sheet is consistent for even baking. You don't want some cookies to over bake if smaller than the others. Some bakers use small ice cream scoops (#20 disher, to be exact) to help them keep a consistent cookie dough size. If you don't have one, use the tablespoon from your measuring spoon set. 

SARAH SAYS: I like to weigh my cookie dough to ensure evenly sized portions. For drop cookies, a 1-ounce weight size seems perfect! Refrigerate any unbaked dough.

TIP #9: SLIGHTLY UNDERBAKE
the Nestle's dough for chewier cookies. Remove the cookies from the oven a few minutes before they are done, while their centers are still soft and not quite cooked through. The edges should be slightly golden but the middle will look even paler.

TIP #10: COOL COMPLETELY
Let them sit on the cookie sheet for 5 - 10 minutes to harden a bit and remove to a wire cake rack to cool. If using parchment paper, simply slide the cookies on the paper to a cooling rack. Remove from paper when cooled.

TIP # 11: NEXT BATCH
As with all cookies, make sure the baking pan has COMPLETELY COOLED before placing a new batch of dough on them. The fat in the recipe melts when placed on a warm sheet, causing an immediate spread.

TIP #12: STORE PROPERLY
Know how to store your cookies the right way!

ENJOY YOUR HOMEMADE COOKIES....no matter how they turn out!!

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