I feel okay about cupcakes. I feel okay about muffins. I even feel okay about cakes (well, not frosting them, but making them). I feel okay about my ability to make them consistently. I feel like they’re products that, while I wouldn’t say I’ve “mastered” them, I feel confident that I can make them well.
But cookies? Cookies are something else.
Cookies are tough. They’re small and delicate. They burn easily. I have a hell of a time making them the same size and thickness. And it’s easier to mess a cookie up. Yes, if you accidentally add too much butter to your cake, it might turn out a little heavy. But if you add too much butter too your cookie it will spread out all over the pan into a thin, crispy, inedible mess.
And of all the cookies I’ve ever made, the ones I’ve had the most trouble with are chocolate chip cookies. Yes, the things I’ve been making since I was four – the baked good I’ve made more than any other. They’ve been a source of endless frustration – sometimes ending up dry and crackly, other times spreading out into paper thin circles. Even though I use the same recipe every time (the one on the back of the bag of Nestlé Toll House Semi Sweet Chocolate Chips), the actual finished product varies wildly.
For what it’s worth, I like a thick, hefty chocolate chip cookie, with a soft, substantial center and a slight crispness around the edges. I like them best right out of the oven, when they’re falling apart and melting and the centers are just barely set.
I had some girlfriends over Friday night for girl talk, wine and Apolo Ohno watching, and I did something I’ve always wanted to do – I popped up in the middle of the evening and made everyone a batch of freshly baked chocolate chip cookies. It made me feel like the best hostess ever – although I think they were humoring me more than anything (one of my friends was like “just let her be The Modern Domestic, guys”).
But I have a new weapon in my kitchen arsenal these days – I finally went out and bought a kitchen scale. And I would just like to say that every home baker should go out and get one right away. Immediately. They make baking so much easier; rather than messing around with measuring cups, you just pour everything into the bowl. And it’s so much more precise – rather than hoping that my “dip and sweep” cup of flour really is one cup, I know that I’ve added exactly five ounces of flour to my batter.
So this Friday, I converted the Nestlé Toll House chocolate chip cookie to weighed measurements using an excellent set of conversion tables in the back of The Cake Bible. And the cookies came out perfectly – slightly mounded and soft in the center and crisp at the edges. For the first time in a long time, they were exactly the way I liked them. Because the tiniest changes in the portion of fat to flour to liquid matters so much in a cookie, the extra control that the scale affords can make a huge difference.
So go out. Buy that kitchen scale. And the first thing you can make are the Nestlé Toll House chocolate chip cookies – my converted recipe is below. Go fourth and weigh!
Chocolate Chip Cookies
Adapted from the Nestlé Toll House Chocolate Chip Recipe
Makes 2 dozen large cookies
11.25 oz all purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp kosher salt
8 oz unsalted butter, softened
5.25 oz sugar
5.75 oz light brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs, at room temperature
12 oz semi sweet chocolate chips
In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda salt. In the bowl of an electric mixture fitted with a paddle attachment, cream together butter, sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla on medium speed until light and fluffy – about two minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Slowly add flour mixture and mix until just combined. Stir in chocolate chips.
Using an ice cream scoop or two spoons, scoop onto parchment lined baking sheets (my cookies were 1/4 cup batter each). Bake 10-14 minutes, depending on cookie size, until golden brown and just set in the center. Let cool on a rack. Serve warm.