While I'm far from Martha Stewart and nowhere even close to Mrs. Claus, there's one sweet treat I like to think I've perfected the art of baking. I consider myself a chocolate chip cookie connoisseur and have been since my grandma and I whipped up my first batch when I was probably just 4 or 5. But while I'm psyched to be proficient at baking one of the most classic cookies there are, it's not like being able to make creme brulee or even cake pops. Because, well, chocolate chip cookies are basically fool-proof, right?
Ehhh, not so fast! The tried-and-true CCC may not be all that difficult to make, but there are certainly ways you can screw 'em up! Here, 7 common chocolate chip cookie mistakes people make -- and how to avoid these sweet-sapping pitfalls!
- Baking too long or in an oven that was too hot. Either mistake will leave your cookies too brown and too hard. If you've got a wonky, unreliable oven (like I do!), it may pay to get an oven thermometer to check that your oven temperatures are accurate.
- Skipping the salt. I've watched people purposely omit salt thinking it's weird or not wanting it in the cookie for health reasons (watching their blood pressure, perhaps?). But it's necessary and brings out the sweetness in the best possible way. All you need is a pinch!
- Microwaving your butter (or coconut oil). Using a fat that's too soft will cause your cookies to flatten. If you like them pancake-style, go for it, but if you want a thicker, chewier cookie, you're better off letting your butter or coconut oil thaw for 30 minutes outside of the fridge instead of nuking it quickly in the micro.
- Ending up with sticking and/or burnt cookies. Whether it's the cookie sheet you used or your oven again, it may pay to use baking parchment or a silpat baking mat to ensure the perfect golden CCC.
- Adding the chocolate chips after you add the flour. This is a surefire way to end up overmixing (and in turn, messing with the texture) or discoloring the dough. Instead, add the chips before adding the flour to evenly distribute them without overmixing the final dough.
- Failing to let the cookies cool long enough before transferring them. You should wait at least 2 minutes before transferring them, because they continue to bake from the heat of the sheet without being over-baked in the oven. They'll also hold together better and be less likely to fall in the middle if you wait.
- Getting into a recipe rut. There are so many CCC recipes out there, why get hung up on just one? Trying new mix-ins (nuts! dried fruits! herbs like lavender or mint!), flours (almond meal is my current fave), chocolate (chunks vs. chips, bars, dark vs. milk, etc.), etc. can give you a whole new experience.
What other tricks do you have to making the perfect chocolate chip cookie?
Image via Maressa Brown