Chocolate Chip Cookies: recipe, tips and secrets

Chocolate Chip CookiesI always enjoyed my mom’s chocolate chip cookies growing up. I can still remember the aroma that filled the kitchen while she baked them. Getting them while they were fresh out of the oven and still warm was a treat. The only downside was that the cookies would get hard after setting for more than a few days. Granted, this was rarely a problem since the cookies went fast. However, after using my mom’s recipe to bake cookies with the kids, I was convinced there was a way to make softer cookies.

A Google search for soft chocolate chip cookies pointed me to the “Award Winning Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies” recipe at Allrecipes.com. After just one use, we were hooked. Using this recipe, the cookies are soft and stay this way for days. The family absolutely loves them, and we get rave reviews anytime we take them somewhere as a dessert dish.

The recipe is a variant of the chocolate chip recipe on the back of a bag of Nestle Tollhouse Chocolate Chips that my mom used to make her cookies. There is just one subtle, but important difference that I’ll reveal shortly.

We’ve made many batches of cookies using this recipe (too many to count). During that time, we’ve learned quite a few tips and secrets that I’ve sprinkled throughout this recipe. The cookies will come out great by just following the base recipe at Allrecipes.com, but the extra tips, secrets and special ingredient are what makes the cookies an extra-special treat.


Ingredients

The ingredients below will make approximately 6 dozen cookies depending on the size of each cookie. I’ve found it can be easier and more efficient to cut the recipe in half and make 3 dozen cookies. Plus, you can bang out 3 dozen in under an hour if you’re in a hurry.

4 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
Stick to all-purpose flour, bleached or unbleached. We’ve tried with whole wheat flour, and the cookies lose some of their edge.

2 teaspoons baking soda
Make sure to use baking soda and NOT baking powder. The cookies won’t rise or spread out well if you accidentally use baking powder.

2 cups butter, softened
It’s very important that the butter you use is soft. I find it best to take the butter out of the fridge for at least an hour before using it. You can use the microwave to soften the butter if you forget (or are in a hurry), but the end result isn’t the same.

1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
Dark or golden brown works, just make sure to pack it good. A touch extra doesn’t hurt as well.

1/2 cup white sugar

2 (3.4 ounce) packages instant vanilla pudding mix
This is the “secret” ingredient that makes, and keeps, the cookies soft. Don’t cut corners and get the sugar-free type, it won’t turn-out well. Plus, get 2 3.4 ounce packages. You’ll be tempted to get one large package – don’t do it. By volume, it’s not as much mix. Finally, the recipe says you can use any flavor pudding mix, but our chocolate pudding experiment didn’t work out. Since then, we exclusively use vanilla in our cookies.

4 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract
We go a little strong on the vanilla extract – typically 2 1/2 or 3 teaspoons find its way into our cookies.

4 (heaping) cups semisweet chocolate chips
Semisweets make the best cookies, and we use 4 heaping cups. A few extra chocolate chips never hurt anyone, and it gives the cookies a little extra chocolate kick.


Preparation

  1. Blend the flour and baking soda together in a small or medium-sized bowl. I usually measure and add the flour, add the baking soda, and then mix it up using a fork that lightly sifts the mixture. Once done, set the mixture aside for later. Also, I normally have a helper do this step while I start on step 2.
  2. In a separate, large bowl, mix together the softened butter, brown sugar, and white sugar. It’s important that the ingredients are thoroughly mixed for best results. I use an electric mixer for this part. You don’t need to worry about over mixing here, and I tend to mix a little longer just to make sure that the sugars are thoroughly mixed in with the butter.
  3. Add the two packages of instant pudding to the butter mixture in the large bowl. At this point, I switch to a spatula to blend the ingredients until the pudding mix is distributed evenly in the butter mixture.
  4. Next add the eggs and vanilla to the mixture in the large bowl. I stir these in with the spatula until the mixture has a smooth consistency to it.
  5. Now you are ready to add the flour mixture. When making the full recipe, I slowly add the mixture and lightly stir it in. You want to be careful that you don’t spend too much time working the flour by over mixing. In other words, make sure that the flour is mixed in, but don’t over do it. Overworking the flour can result in cookies that aren’t as fluffy.
  6. Finally, drop in the chocolate chips and lightly stir to distribute them evenly. I tend to do more of a folding motion on this step to avoid over-working the dough. It’s usually easier to do this step when working with a halved recipe, but that’s just my personal experience.

At this point, you are ready to start baking. However, I recommend that you set the cookie dough in the refrigerator for at least an hour before starting to bake. The colder the dough, the better the cookies. I won’t go into all the details, but there is some science that proves out using colder dough is better. I’ve been known to make the dough and let it refrigerate overnight before baking. If you’re in a hurry, you can at least wait to preheat the oven until you finish the dough, so it gets a few minutes of fridge time before you start to bake.


Baking

After you’ve preheated the oven, you’re ready to start baking.

  1. Use an un-greased cookie sheet.
  2. Drop the cookies using rounded spoonfuls. I recommend using a cookie scoop like this one so your cookies have a consistent size to them. It takes a lot of the guesswork out compared to using a regular spoon.
  3. Make sure the dough balls are rounded and evenly spaced on the cookie sheet. I also recommend tamping them down ever so slightly to flatten the top and the dough ball itself. It will help the cookie spread out evenly during baking.
  4. Place in the oven for 10 minutes. Depending on your oven and location, it could take up to 12 minutes to bake.
  5. After baking finishes, use a metal spatula to promptly remove the cookies from the baking sheet and set on a cooling rack.

Here are a couple of extra tips that will help improve the consistency and quality of the cookies:

  • Between batches, place the dough in the refrigerator to keep it cold.
  • Wash the cookie sheet off with cold water between batches and scrape off any chocolate bits that may be left behind. It’s important to start with a clean, cool cookie sheet.

Eating

While it will be very tempting to eat the cookies while they are still warm, try to resist the urge. Don’t get me wrong, warm cookies are awesome, but these cookies are much, much better after they have had time to cool. Believe it or not, I’ve found that the cookies taste better the next day as opposed to when they’re straight from the oven.

Finally, be careful. These cookies are extremely addicting. If you’re trying to cut back on sweets or lose weight, making these will not help. It takes a lot of discipline to only have one or two at a time. Good luck!

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