In My Cookie Jar

I have been on the hunt. Not for animal meat. Or surprisingly not even for a great pair of shoes. No m'Lord. My quest has been in search of the perfect chocolate chip cookie. That is not easy when blog after food blog tantalizes me with headings such as the Ultimate, Hands Down, No Doubt, Unrivaled, Best, Kick-Butt, Perfect, Champion, Most Amazing Blue-Ribbon, Better Than Rhubarb Chocolate Chip Cookie!

But guess what? The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie does NOT exist. I know, I know. I just made enemies with Debbie Fields. The fact is that everyone has a different idea of what makes a perfect cookie. There is no way one recipe could satisfy everyone's preferences.

Do you like the Pamela Anderson: blonde and full? Or the Kate Moss: flat and crispy? What about the Sandra Bullock: flat (except in the Blind Side) and chewy? Or the Amy Winehouse: slightly full and crispy. Or.......the Katie Holmes: somewhat full, chewy and soft.

Whatever your druthers, it all has to do with chemistry. Mr. Bates, my 9th grade science teacher, would be proud that I found a practical use for chemistry!

I have been experimenting with batch after batch of cookies trying different variations on the theme. I thank my family for putting up with having to eat so many cookies. It has been "rough" on them. Finally, I came up with a cookie that is pretty darn close to perfection. For my taste!

If you are interested, here is what I learned. I will list each ingredient along with the intended outcome:

Cake flour: less protein / less gluten, soaks up less moisture. Steam will lift the batter. Higher raise, fuller cookie.
Bread flour: can absorb much more liquid than all purpose flour, more moisture will stay in the cookie. More moisture = moist, chewy cookie.


Baking soda: flatter cookie, increasing the soda will flatten the cookie.
Baking powder: fuller cookie
**Side note about these two ingredients: You can substitute baking powder in place of baking soda but if a recipe calls for baking powder, do NOT substitute with baking soda. Did you get that or are you as confused as I am?

Brown sugar: made with molasses which attracts water from the air. Increases chewiness = increased tenderness
White sugar: less chew
The higher the ratio of white to brown sugar, the greater the crunch

Eggs: Cause puff.
Egg whites: dry out the batter.
Milk: cause more spread

Butter: has sharp melting point. Butter batters spread. Melting butter=more chew.
Shortening: melts at a higher temperature. Remains solid longer giving the batter time to rise and set before it spreads. Fuller cookie.

Sifting the flour gives better leavening.

Cream fat and sugar. This adds air.

Creaming cold butter together with the sugar allows the the tiny sharp sugar crystals when incorporated into the butter to create tiny bubbles. These make it easier for other ingredients to integrate into the batter.

Melting the butter: The water from the melted butter will combine during agitation with the protein of the flour and produce gluten ... which is chewy. Melted butter works well with bread flour to maximize the chewiness.

Add dry ingredients in three installments. Why? Because I said so. And I'm the mom. And because flour absorbs moisture poorly. Adding it in three batches will allow time for the batter to actually form.

Chilling the dough: cold dough spreads slowly giving the cookie time to climb before setting. Flat cookie: don't chill. Fuller cookie: chill

Scooping the dough high and small: increase puffiness.


* 3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
* 1 cup packed brown sugar
* 1/4 cup white sugar
* 1 tbsp vanilla extract
* 1 whole large egg
* 1 large egg yolk
* 2 cups all-purpose flour (cake flour if fuller cookie, bread flour if chewier cookie)
* 1 tsp baking powder
* 1/2 tsp table salt
* 2 cups chocolate chips

Preheat the oven to 325° degrees Fahrenheit.

Melt the butter in a sauce pan over low heat or microwave until just melted then allow to cool to room temperature.

Using a large bowl cream together the butter and brown and white sugar on high speed. Add the egg, egg yolk and vanilla. Beat until smooth.

In a separate bowl sift the flour and baking powder together. Then stir in the salt. Add the dry ingredients in three installments to the sugar mixture and mix on low just until everything is incorporated. Fold in the chocolate chips.

Refrigerate for a minimum of fifteen minutes before baking.

Shape dough into golf ball sized balls and place on the ungreased cookie sheet leaving space in between for the dough to spread.

Bake the cookies for 12-14 minutes or until the edges turn a light golden color. Once done, cool for a few minutes on cookie sheet, then transfer to a cooling rack and allow to cool completely. Makes enough cookies to satisfy your craving for the time being. Or enough to make a nice gift to someone.

Happy Experimenting!

Shown are the Pamela Anderson (blonde & full) and the Sandra Bullock (flat & chewy). (Pardon the poor photography).
Here are the differences:

PA: shortening, cake flour, baking powder, chilled dough
SB: melted butter, brown sugar, bread flour, soda, chilled dough

The Katie Holmes (recipe above) is a cross between the above two cookies...semi-full, chewy and soft.

Now if I die tomorrow....at least it can be said at my funeral that I channeled Katie Holmes into a cookie! And it was good.

Another fish food to be fond of!
So savor!


Mrs. Olsen said...

Wow! So Katie Holmes is your version of perfect huh?

I have to say, I will be bookmarking this post because you have beautifully broken down all of our options scientifically. I don't even know which version I like best, but now I can start thinking about it.

Have a Merry Christmas!

LGH said...

Holy cow, Jenni. You have done a lot of experimenting and a lot of scientific research. Did you get a grant from the government stimulus package to work on this important project? Unbelievable. But, where is a sample? Did you mail some to Sean? Jeremy? your mother?

LoriPhdinme said...

Yes, but if I eat these will I be converted to Scientology?

LGH said...

Now, I realize why you are working so hard on this project; Sean loves chocolate chip cookies, right? And, you want to send him some perfect cookies. No wonder you didn't want to take any of those store-purchased cookies home for the sing along...you have a ton of them at home. I just mailed Sean a bundle of goodies...hope they arrive in decent condition!

Bridget said...

....and where were your friends during this experimental tasting process??!!

KRose said...

This post is one of the many, many reasons I love you sister.....i'm so glad you've done all this work for me....and as I'm sure from your former genetics post you can guess, that my fav will also be katie holmes....so I'm going to invite her into my kitchen, then my heart, and finally my hips. thanks.


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