Everyone loves chocolate chip cookies, but not everyone likes them the same way. I like crispy cookies, while Gabriel likes his chewy, and when you follow a recipe you get...well you get a cookie, which may or may not be what you wanted. Enter Alton Brown and his Julia Child meets Mr. Wizard meets Monty Python cooking show, Good Eats. NOW I know how to make the type of cookies I (or Gabriel) like(s). NOW I'm one happy baker.
Alton Brown uses the Tollhouse cookie recipe, but I prefer the Chipits recipe. It uses 1/4 cup less butter (gotta cut the Cals where you can), and starts with a different white to brown sugar ratio. Start with your favourite recipe, then read on to learn how to change things up.
The Science of Cookies
To make thinner, crispier cookies:
- Increase the amount of baking soda by up to a half. Baking soda reduces the acidity of the dough which raises the temperature at which the dough sets. Therefore, the cookie will have more time to spread before it sets.
- Substitute one of the eggs with ¼ cup whole milk. Eggs puff as they cook. Therefore, the cookies will puff less and spread more.
- Increase the ratio of white to brown sugar. Brown sugar contains molasses which attracts moisture from the air. Therefore, using less brown sugar will result in a drier, crispier cookie.
- Use dough at room temperature. Butter has a low melting point. Therefore, starting the dough at a higher relative temperature will allow it to melt and spread earlier.
To make puffier cookies:
- Substitute the butter with butter flavoured shortening. Shortening melts at a higher temperature than butter, so it remains a solid longer. This gives the dough time to rise and set before it spreads.
- Increase the ratio of brown to white sugar. Brown sugar contains molasses which attracts moisture from the air, leading to a tenderer cookie.
- Substitute the AP flour for cake flour. Cake flour has less protein than AP flour, which soaks up moisture. Therefore, the extra moisture can be used to produce steam and provide lift for the cookie.
- Substitute baking powder for baking soda. Baking powder is more acidic than baking soda which will lower the temperature at which the dough sets. Therefore, the dough will set more quickly and spread less.
- Use thoroughly chilled dough. Cold dough spreads more slowly and, therefore, the cookie will puff more before setting.
To make chewier cookies:
- Substitute the AP flour for bread flour AND melt the butter. Bread flour has more protein than AP flour. The water from the melted butter will combine with the protein to produce gluten, which is chewy. Also, since bread flour can absorb more water than AP flour, more moisture will stay in the cookie.
- Increase the ratio of brown to white sugar. Brown sugar contains molasses which attracts moisture from the air for the protein in the bread flour to combine with to make more gluten, leading to a chewier cookie.
- Replace one of the egg’s whites with 2 tbsp whole milk. Egg whites dry out baked goods. By removing one of the whites, you allow more moisture to stay in the cookie.