Notice how I didn't title this, "The Best Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe You'll Ever Bake"? Yeah, that's because you don't need special ingredients for perfect cookies.
I am about to rock your baking world, friends. And you will forever love me for it. I am going to share with you two little tips that will change your life forever. Or at least, your cookies. For me, that’s life.
I have tried all three of the most readily available chocolate chip cookie recipes on the back of the morsels bags: Hershey’s, Toll House, and Ghirardelli. They are all almost identical, save for the fact that the Hershey’s recipe omits the baking soda and calls for 1 more ounce of chocolate morsels. But guess what…
They are telling you to bake your cookies wrong. WRONG, I tell you!
It’s a conspiracy. (Que my husband’s eye roll.) It’s like they want you to make subpar cookies so you will buy more prepackaged, chemically preserved dough or cookies at a higher price instead. And it ticks me off.
Because NOTHING competes with a fresh, homemade, SOFT, chocolate chip cookie. It’s the little black dress, the Carrara marble, the Chardonnay of baked goods. It will always be the first thing people reach for on the food tray at a party. Because they know what to expect. They know they have enjoyed it in the past.
But really, to make it worth the indulgence for me, it needs to be perfect, not just familiar. As my pastry chef hero, Melissa Murphy, says, “...Bake everyone’s favorite desserts better than they've ever had them before.” She is a genius. Ever notice in those televised baking competitions, the Best in Show award always goes to the one simple classic recipe that was perfectly executed? That’s the reason why.
Once upon a time, not long ago, I made the mistake (not really a mistake at all, as it turns out!) of not reading the directions on the back of the morsels bag. I preheated the oven to 350° instead of 375° out of habit. And immediately I noticed how much better, how evenly, my cookies were baking. It was so much easier to get a soft cookie throughout, instead of crumbly all over and a tad soft in the middle.
Now if you are in the crumbly cookie camp, that’s fine. But I have a feeling you are in the minority.
Before my discovery, some of the batch always got stale before we could eat it all. There were always a couple left over on the party tray. But now? People can’t keep their mitts off of them. I am complimented on them every single time. It’s always the same phrase, “Mmm, these are really good.” As they nod with widened eyes and a definite head bob and go back for another cookie. And another. As if they are a little surprised, cuz they're not fancy but they are just… so perfectly satisfying.
And just in case you are wondering if my oven just cooks “hot,” I can assure you that’s not the case. Back when I went through my homemade artisan bread phase, and my house smelled divine, I calibrated my oven. It actually cooks a little on the cool side. And the higher the temp the greater the difference between what it should cook at and what it does cook at.
Below is the pretty much the Ghiradelli recipe, but with a few additions. The ingredients are exactly the same, but I've added a few tips and I've bolded the changes I made to bake them correctly. I mean "my way." Freudian slip.
Ghirardelli Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe
- 2- 1 / 4 cups unsifted flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 / 2 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup butter
- 3 / 4 cup sugar
- 3 / 4 cup packed brown sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 1 cup chopped walnuts or pecans (optional)
- 1 (11 ounce) bag Ghirardelli double chocolate chips
- stand mixer
- measuring cups and spoons
- small mixing bowl
- medium cookie scoop
- wire racks
- baking pans
- spatula (not pictured)
1. Preheat oven to 350°, NOT 375°. (The first and most important tip for perfectly baked cookies.)
2. Stir the flour with baking soda and salt, set aside.
3. In large mixing bowl, cream the butter with sugar and brown sugar.
4. Add the vanilla and eggs, one at a time.
5. Gradually blend dry mixture into creamed mixture.
6. Stir in the chocolate chips (and nuts, if that's the way you like em).
7. Drop a tablespoon of dough per cookie onto ungreased cookie sheets. And that brings us to the second tip to perfectly baked chocolate chip cookies: Get yourself a medium cookie scoop either at Jo-Ann with a coupon or on Amazon. It allows you to make all the cookies the same size, thus baking them all evenly. It only took me a couple of decades to figure this one out.) I like to use a spatula to help pack the dough in the scoop and flatten the bottom.
8. And while we are at it... spacing is important for even baking.
Start in the middle...
work your way out, staggering the placement...
so that they will not get squished as they bake and spread.
9. Bake for 9-11 minutes or until golden brown (around the edges only. This takes about 10- 11 minutes and 30 seconds in my oven. More on that in the notes below).
10. Let sit on baking tray 3 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack.
If you are a snob, or "foodie", like me than you will probably notice that Ghiradelli morsels are consistently more fresh and rich in flavor. In a word, better. They are also the only of the three most popular options that don't contain "natural flavor" or "artificial flavor." I prefer to avoid those two ingredients when I can because I get a little nervous and grossed out not knowing exactly what I am putting in my body. Spend the extra $1.00 or whatever it is at your Wal-Mart, and get the good stuff. Now, if you have access to even higher quality chocolate, use that. And mail me some! I kid, I kid. Sort of.
I love pecans and really all nuts in my cookies, but when cooking for a lot of people or young children I usually leave them out. Many, maybe even most, people prefer a pure chocolate chip cookie.
With each tray that goes in the oven they seem to cook just a hair faster. It’s not much and it’s very gradual, but by the last tray I notice I am baking about a full minute less than the first couple trays. If consistency and perfection are important to you, try doing this.
As these cool on your rack they will have that delicate crisp around the edges, similar to a pancake fresh off the griddle. It’s delicious. But if JUST soft is what you are after these actually lose that delicate crisp after being in a sealed container for a few hours. Food for thought.
So next time you make chocolate chip cookies let me know if you try lowering the temp and using a cookie scoop. Also, I would love for you to post in the comments if you have a different chocolate chip cookie recipe that you have made yours and that everyone goes CRAZY for.
Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman, has a couple of unique versions that are on my 'To Bake' list. Everything she makes is just fantastic. I keep thinking the next time I make cookies I will branch out and try one, but I chicken out because I'm skeptical that any others can live up to these classic beauties.
Happy baking, friends. And whatever you make, make it yours!
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