So my whole grand life of twenty four years I have been cooking for...well the joy of cooking I suppose. Not until recently have I figured out there is a complete and undiscovered (at least by me) science behind it all. Not only does this information make me feel like a better cook...but a straight up friggin smarty pants too.
Psst....come on over here! I'll let you in on a couple of things I have learned.
For example, today let's use a basic, yet truly wonderful recipe of chocolate chip cookies. Loved by millions it the Nestle Tollhouse cookie recipe. It's fantastic as is, but I have always wondered how there can be SO many chocolate chip cookie variations and what really is the difference between them all.
So we start out with this recipe...
- 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs
- 2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels
- 1 cup chopped nuts (but yuck...I am NOT a fan of nutty cookies! Brownies - yes, breads - perhaps, but cookies...oh no)
PREHEAT oven to 375° F.
COMBINE flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels and nuts. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.
BAKE for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.
But let's mix things up a bit...so use the regular recipe above, just note these simple changes...
here are the how's and why's...
The Thin and Crispy
- Add up to 1/2 tsp more baking soda... the baking soda reduces the total acidity of the batter allowing it to spread faster at high temperatures
-Use room temperature BUTTER (no not margarine or Crisco) and really take the creaming of the fat and sugar to heart and beat the snot out of it to make the batter light and airy
- Use a higher white sugar to brown sugar ratio, lets say 1 c. white sugar and 1/2 c. brown sugar
(more white sugar will ensure crispiness)
- Use 1 egg and 2 oz. milk ...hmmm trying to remember the reason for this... oh what the heck - just do it :P
- Sift your dry ingredients together before combining them...you know that's one step you always ignore...or at least I do... this will ensure uniformity of leavening ingredients.
Not a fan of The Thin you say? Are you craving a puffy, cake like cookie? Look no further!
- Use butter flavored shortening in lieu of the butter... shortening has a higher melting point allowing your cookie to rise before cooking
-Use 1 c. brown sugar and 1/2c. white sugar (higher brown sugar content = more moisture)
-Substitute cake flour for all purpose flour (cake flour has less protien which will add density and velvety texture)
-Add 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder instead of baking soda (I know you usually dont see this in a cookie recipe - but we are looking for puffy here folks so we need more leavening!)
-Remember to sift sift sift!!!
-Chill dough for at least 30 min. or longer
And last and certainly not least, let us not forget my favorite of the bunch,
- Use butter again but make sure it is completely melted down into liquid form (about 1 min in the microwave but check after 30 seconds - your nuker may be more powerful than mine)
- Use bread flour instead of all purpose flour (ensures very chewy cookies with its higher protien level)
-Change up the sugar to 1/4 c white sugar and 1 1/4 c. brown sugar (more brown sugar = more moisture due to the molasses in the sugar which is a moisture hog)
-Use 1 egg and 1 egg yolk (I guess egg whites are moisture suckers) + 2 Tbsp. milk
-Chill dough for at least 30 min or longer
Pretty fantastic isn't it? Well I thought so - hopefully you did too. So go now you smart little Einstein you... do your own little science experiment in the privacy of your own home and see which you love best.