From chewy and crisp to cakey and crumbly to flat and greasy, here’s how to make sure the recipe you choose suits your tastes, where your favourite choc chip cookies are involved!
Have you ever wondered why the humble chocolate chip cookie varies so much? While they’re all sweet, buttery and (hopefully) loaded with a good amount of chocolate chips, some choc chip cookies are chewy, almost fudgy, with crisp lightly golden edges, while others are more cake-like – visibly thick and chunky, and some are lighter in colour and with a crumbly texture.
We looked at an average choc chip cookie recipe to see how various ingredients and techniques can affect the taste, texture and appearance, all in the hopes of helping you find which adaptations suit your choc chip cookie needs the most!
We also look at how much guestimating and improvising can affect home baking, especially when something so simple as a choc chip cookie is involved!
As the control recipe, we used an easy-to-master choc chip recipe. See the rundown of the full recipe for the control batch below.
Choc chip cookies
114g butter, softened
100g white granulated sugar
110g treacle sugar
1 tsp vanilla essence
1 large egg
180g cake wheat flour
½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
¼ tsp baking powder
½ tsp pink Himalayan sea salt
180g chocolate chips
Preheat an oven to 190°C and line a baking tray with baking paper. Set aside.
Mix flour, bicarbonate of soda, baking powder and salt together. Set aside.
Cream butter and sugars together.
Beat in egg and vanilla essence until combined.
Mix in dry ingredients, just until combined.
Add chocolate chips and mix well.
Using a small cookie scoop, portion the dough or roll the dough out into small balls.
Bake for 10 minutes or until they just start to brown. Allow to cool on the pan for 2 minutes before removing.
P.S. If you prefer chewier cookies, bake for only 8 minutes. They will be very soft when you take them out of the oven, but perfect for when you prefer softer, chewy-style choc chip cookies.
Comparisons within the control batch
No chill time vs. chilled overnight vs. frozen
Within the control batch, we looked at how chill time might affect the outcome of the choc chip cookies. We also looked at what would happen if the cookies were baked after being chilled overnight or from frozen and how this would affect the result.
The control batch of cookies spread out easily, yielding thin cookies with a crisp finish and a slightly chewy midsection. Notes of butterscotch and caramel flavours came through along with pops of chocolate from each bite of the control batch cookies.
The chilled batch spread less, which meant the cookies were slightly thicker with a chewier fudgier centre. They still had a crisp finish to them with wonderfully golden edges. The flavours were far more developed after chilling, with an enhanced caramel butterscotch note coming through.
Baking the control batch dough straight from frozen yielded a cookie that was super chewy and super fudge-like in the centre with a crisp outer edge. The butterscotch flavour was somewhat subdued in the batch that was baked directly from frozen, but they were fudgy and chewy and still utterly delicious.
Cooking from frozen did require additional baking time, but baking cookies from frozen is a wonderful convenience, especially if you love a chewier cookie with some crispness to it!
Conclusion: Chilling the dough is the way to go if you love a choc chip cookie that’s packed with flavour! This step allows for the flavours to develop more – the butterscotch flavours will be more pronounced and you’ll end up with chewier cookies with crisp edges.
If you do opt to freeze a batch, do take the time to defrost them before baking if you want a cookie with ample flavour.
Using melted butter
Following the control recipe but substituting the softened butter for melted butter yielded cookies with an almost crinkle-like effect on the top, similar to that of brownies.
Although visibly different, they spread out less than the creamed softened butter version, as seen in the control batch.
The melted butter made the overall flavour of the cookies a whole lot richer! A lush, buttery butterscotch depth of flavour came through stronger when compared to the control batch. This batch was also a little chewy and a little crisp, all in one banging buttery bite!
Chilling the dough before baking this sample made with the melted butter resulted in cookies that were even crinklier in appearance, with the same rich buttery butterscotch depth to them.
Conclusion: If you don’t mind the crinkle-top “brownie-effect” finish, the melted butter makes cookies that are seriously rich, buttery and utterly delicious!
Adding 20% more flour
The dough itself was a lot dryer, so it was very easy to work with. They were far denser than the control batch, affectionately termed ‘little rock cakes’! They also spread out less when baking so they were somewhat thicker. The cookies themselves were quite tough; they definitely did not break easily!
In terms of taste, they tasted undercooked; you could taste the additional flour which tasted somewhat raw. With the additional flour, they were almost reminiscent of mass-produced cookies instead of luscious homemade ones!
Conclusion: If you prefer a cakier chunky cookie, it might be easier to find a recipe for that specific type of cookie instead of trying to adapt an existing recipe because adding a guestimated amount of flour can throw cookie-baking science out of whack, which can be rather detrimental.
The easiest way to describe the test batch without baking powder and bicarbonate of soda would be as little rock cakes 2.0! They did not spread out as much when compared to the control batch. The sample was extremely dense and a bit on the tough side.
Omitting leavening agents threw out the fine balance of flavours because the sample was a lot sweeter than the control batch. The flavour of the chocolate chips was a lot more pronounced when compared to the balanced butterscotch notes of the control batch. The sample batch also tasted somewhat undercooked and had less colour compared to the control batch. You could taste the cookies were missing something!
We also tried to see if there was a big difference between baking powder and bicarbonate of soda. Both samples affected the delicate flavours overall. The sample batch that was made with only baking powder instead of bicarbonate of soda left a funny bitter and somewhat acidic aftertaste and texture in the mouth. The texture was also more similar to the batch without leavening agents than the control batch.
The test batch with only bicarbonate of soda (baking powder was omitted) was similar in texture to the control batch. The flavours were different from the control batch in that the cookie was very much too sweet, and the cookie also spread out less, but the colour was quite similar to the control batch.
Conclusion: Leavening agents are important when it comes to baking in general, even when cookies are involved! Forgetting to add bicarb or baking powder won’t flop your cookies, but they might not taste or look their best.
In the case of this control recipe, the bicarb played a very important role when it came to achieving the most desirable texture, colour and flavour.
Using only white granulated sugar
Substituting the exact amount of treacle sugar for granulated white sugar, the cookies were visibly lighter. While baking, they smelled exactly like sugar cookies and in terms of taste they definitely lacked the moreish caramel-like taste so characteristic of the control batch.
Even though they were sweet, crisp and a little chewy and utterly delicious, they did lack some serious butterscotch flavour depth! Simply put, they tasted just like sugar cookies that had been spiked with chocolate chips.
Conclusion: You will not be disappointed with the end result, so even if you don’t have treacle sugar at home you should always opt to make the cookie!
Using only treacle sugar
Substituting the exact amount of white sugar with treacle sugar drastically altered both the dough and ultimately the result. The batter was extremely sticky and wet, and hard to handle. The cookies spread the most when baking when compared to the control batch.
Due to the high sugar content, they also picked up a lot of colour when baking. The cookies were like brandy snaps in texture as they came out of the oven. As they dried, they were noticeably oily, super thin, and extremely crisp, but with a taffy-like texture and chew. They tasted like molasses with deep and intensely dark notes!
Conclusion: While we don’t recommend substituting treacle sugar with granulated white sugar 1:1, you won’t be let down by these cookies! They are decadently dark and delicious.