- 2 1/2 cups (355 g) all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 3/4 teaspoon salt
- 12 tablespoons (1 1/2 sticks or 170 g) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1/2 cup (100 g) granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup (100 g) brown sugar
- 2 large eggs
- 1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
- 7 oz (198 g) semisweet or bittersweet chocolate, chopped into bite-size pieces, or 1 1/4 cups (226 g) semisweet chocolate chips
- Preparation: Preheat your oven to 350°F (180°C) and line three sheet pans with parchment paper. Positioning the oven rack in the middle ensures even heat distribution during baking.
- Mix Dry Ingredients: Whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt in a medium bowl. This step not only combines these ingredients but also aerates the flour, making it lighter and easier to mix into a smooth dough.
- Cream Butter and Sugars: In a stand mixer fitted with a paddle, beat the butter until creamy, about 1 minute. Add granulated and brown sugars, beating until light and fluffy. This process, known as creaming, incorporates air into the dough, which helps to leaven the cookies as they bake. Brown sugar contributes to moisture and flavor due to its molasses content.
- Incorporate Eggs and Vanilla: Adding eggs one at a time ensures they are fully integrated into the mixture, with the eggs acting as emulsifiers to bind the dough. Vanilla extract adds flavor depth.
- Combine Dry and Wet Ingredients: Gradually add the flour mixture, mixing until just combined to prevent overworking the dough, which can result in tough cookies. Stir in the chocolate chips or pieces last to evenly distribute them without breaking them down.
- Form and Bake Cookies: Scoop the dough into 1 1/2 oz (45 g) balls and place them on the prepared pans. Baking one pan at a time and rotating halfway through ensures even baking. Initially baking for 8 minutes lets the cookies puff up, a result of the baking soda releasing carbon dioxide gas. Tapping the pan in the oven helps to settle the cookies, creating a denser texture.
- Final Baking Stage: Continuing to bake for 2 to 3 more minutes until the edges are golden ensures a soft center with a slightly crisp edge. The final tap in the oven helps to deflate them slightly, contributing to their characteristic texture.
- Cooling: Allowing the cookies to cool on the pan helps them to set without becoming too hard. The cookies will deflate as they cool, which is typical due to the steam inside the cookie condensing.
- Maillard Reaction: The browning of the cookies’ edges is due to the Maillard reaction, which occurs between amino acids and reducing sugars in the presence of heat, contributing to flavor and color.
- Starch Gelatinization: The heat of the oven causes the starch in the flour to absorb moisture and swell, setting the structure of the cookies.
- Caramelization of Sugars: The slight caramelization of the sugars, especially the molasses in the brown sugar, adds a rich color and depth of flavor.
- Role of Fats: The butter in the dough melts in the oven, creating steam pockets that contribute to the leavening process. As the dough sets, these pockets create a tender, crumbly texture.
Note: Using chocolate chips instead of chopped chocolate affects the texture of the cookies. Chocolate chips are designed to hold their shape, contributing to a puffier cookie due to their solid structure within the dough. Chopped chocolate melts more thoroughly, creating pockets of chocolate and slightly altering the cookie’s texture.
This detailed recipe not only guides you through the steps of making chocolate chip cookies but also delves into the science behind each ingredient and baking technique, providing insight into how they contribute to the final taste, texture, and appearance of the cookies