The Secrets of Great Chocolate Chip Cookies

Ben and cookies

Ben enjoys nearly, but not quite, ultimate cookies. Yum.

I claimed, in my July 4 post, that I bake the best darn chocolate chip cookies on the planet. A niece commented on Facebook that they should be tested often. I agree.

After hearing about that post, Audrey challenged my claim, stating that SHE bakes better cookies. Well, no, I don’t think so. But then again, she can make darn good cookies almost on a par with mine.

So, just in case you want in on the ultimate cookies, here are my chip cookie tips:

  • Use real butter. Ben came home from Ames and ISU for a few days, and that inspired me to bake cookies so we could pig out and watch “Band of Brothers” on DVD. But we had no butter, so I used margarine. The cookies were still very good, as you can see, but not “ultimate.” Butter would make them better.
  • Don’t melt the butter. When making cookies, think “wet” and “dry,” and mix the two kinds of ingredients separately. The first wet ingredient is margarine or butter, which would be soft—but not melted. Be careful with your microwave, you want it to mix in with no resistance, but not to flow. By the way, the “wet” ingredients are butter, sugar (brown and white, and yes, it is a “wet” ingredient), eggs and vanilla. Flour, baking soda and salt are dry.
  • Cut down the sugar. I use a package recipe—in fact, about the best cookie recipe I’ve ever found is from Fareway on their Fasco generic chips. But on most chocolate cookie recipies, the cookies will be very flat and overly chewy if you use all the sugar. The Tollhouse recipe I was using called for ¾ cup white and brown sugar. I used ½ cup white, and a bit over ½ cup but less than ¾ cup brown. The cookies are still pleasantly chewy, but have more “form” that way.
  • Mix the wet well before you add the mixed dry. You don’t need a mechanical mixer—cookies can easily be spoon mixed, but you want the wet mixture to be creamy and homogeneous before you stir in the flour mixture. Mix the eggs up well before adding them to the other wet, by the way—again, a fork is all you need for the eggs.
  • Use a full package of chocolate chips. I know some moms historically have used ½ package under some deluded idea of making healthier cookies, but shame on them. Cookie dough is glue to hold together chocolate chips. If anything, add more, don’t scrimp. By the way, even if you use cheap Fasco chips (and there is no reason not to) make sure you are using chocolate chips and not some chocolate flavored wax imitation—only real chocolate chips are acceptable in cookies. Far more important than real butter is real chocolate chips.
  • Add nuts. Not if you have any allergies, but if you can tolerate them, mix them in. Unlike chips, more is not always better—don’t overdo (correction made, original wording was “overdue”) nuts, but I like a little nutty to my ultimate chocolate chip cookies. Best is pecan, but both walnut and hickory nuts are acceptable. Peanuts and almonds have their place in culinary delights, but not these cookies.
  • Don’t over-bake. It’s OK if the cookies look slightly underdone. Under baked cookies are soft and divine. It’s the opposite rule with french fries, where frying them to a deep brown crisp is a good idea. Make cookies barely done. (This is one rule that makes my cookies better than Audrey’s, by the way. She likes her baked goods “done.” Mine are done too, just not quite as done.) Cool for about a minute before removing from the warm cookie sheet to a wire rack—if you don’t wait, the cookies will fall apart, but if you wait too long, the cookies will stick. They need to start to set, but not harden, when you gently slide them off the sheet with a metal spatula.

There you have it. Now go bake some cookies and share some with me. Warm cookies, cold milk and an episode of “Band of Brothers,” by the way, are great ingredients for a pleasant summer evening …

Raw cookies

Raw cookies before baking.

Baked cookies



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7 responses to “The Secrets of Great Chocolate Chip Cookies

  1. Cate

    Sure, they look good. But I would need to engage at least a couple more of my senses before I could really evaluate your claims. I concur that one shouldn’t “overdue” nuts – that implies they would be stale, maybe even moldy. And you’re absolutely right about the chocolate chips. We made cookies a couple of weeks ago, and Paulette wanted to use only half the bag. She is mad, mad! I had to intervene.

    • i can back up his claims.. i also use the exact same guidelines and it is through trial and error AS WELL as finding the recipe on the back of the same fastco chocolate chips..i can assure you these tips will make much better chocolate chip cookies than if you blindly follow the toll house or hershey recipe. Sugar makes cookies chewier yes.. but they also spread a lot if you use a full 1.5 cups sugar.. chocolate chips have tons of sugar anyways.. so they still taste great..

    • also toast the nuts to add deeper flavor before adding to the cookies.

  2. Cindy

    I think we need to have a bake-off to determine this claim….lol

  3. Nina

    You should mail your daughter in Omaha some…I think she’d like some cookies…..

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