Chocolate chip cookies: butter challenge, accepted
I will often say that there is no such thing as the perfect chocolate chip cookie. Anyone who tells you they have the recipe for The Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie is selling you something. Why? Because, unlike almost any other baked good, there is so much variation in what people want (thin and crispy? puffed and cakelike? soft and chewy? nuts or not?), that “perfection” literally cannot exist.
I’ve done a bit of work with my chocolate chip cookie recipe to get them the way that I like them (soft and chewy, no nuts). They’re fussier than the way I usually bake, but it’s been an important process – they’re chocolate chip cookies! One day I’ll share how I got here. But today it’s about the butter.
Mr. uglyducklingbakery often asks if I can taste the difference when I bake with Plugra (a European style butter with a higher fat content). I share an example of croissants made with cheap butter, but he is not convinced. Compare other baked goods with different butters, he says, and see if it matters.
And here we are.
Background: The higher fat content associated with European style butters adds flavor and texture to baked goods. It is unclear if small variations in fat content and style impact consistency and taste of chocolate chip cookies.
Objective: To conduct a small, semi-blinded study to compare the butters routinely available in grocery stores.
Methods: A standard recipe (see below) was chosen. Three half-batches of cookies were made by one investigator in the same afternoon in the same exact way with standard measurements +/- 1% variation by weight. Cookies were frozen overnight and baked on a single cookie sheet. Two of the three testers were fully blinded to butter content.
Results: Cookie B, made with Tillamook Extra Creamy unsalted butter, was the top choice for all testers due to its flavor and soft, chewy texture. Cookies made with Plugra (cookie C) were a close second, while cookies made with Kerrygold were a distant third. These cookies had more spread and a less developed taste than the other two.
Discussion: Butter variations do impact cookie results. However, these results were not statistically significant. This experiment should be repeated by others, taking into account personal preferences for chocolate chip cookies.
These cookies were baked as part of the Week 20 reddit 52 week baking challenge: plating. I’ll probably bake a cake for next weekend’s birthday challenge and try to redeem myself…
Frequently asked questions about chocolate chip cookies
Yes. It depends on your goal. Chips are intended to stay whole and not melt. Chopped chocolate, on the other hand, will melt into the body of your cookie.
Please feel free to repeat the experiment with whatever butter is available to you, and let me know how it turns out!
It’s always better to bake with unsalted butter so you can control the salt content – there’s variation in the amount of salt in different salted butters. If salted butter is all you have, go ahead and use it and omit the extra salt.
Yes. I always freeze the cookie batter from drop cookies such as these. I bake only what we’ll eat that day and save the rest to have freshly baked cookies whenever we want. Cookie balls will last a few months in the freezer. Bake at the same temperature for an extra minute or two.
Chocolate chip cookies
- 2 cups (250g, 8.8oz) bleached, all-purpose flour
- ½ tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 cup (2 "sticks", 227g, 8oz) unsalted butter, room temperature
- ¼ cup (50g, 1.8oz) granulated sugar
- ½ cup (96g, 3.3oz) light brown sugar
- ½ cup (96g, 3.3oz) dark brown sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tbsp whole milk
- 1 bag (340g, 12 oz) chocolate chips (I use Ghiradelli semisweet)
- Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into a medium sized bowl.
- Melt one half of the butter (1 stick/113g/4oz) in a small saucepan.
- In a mixing bowl, cream the other half of the softened butter with the sugars until lightened, about 3-5 minutes, scraping the bowl down as necessary.
- Beat in the melted butter.
- Add the eggs one at a time, then the vanilla, and then the milk, beating about one minute between each addition.
- Add the dry ingredients and mix only until just combined.
- Add the chocolate chips and mix by hand.
- Add this point you may need to refrigerate the cookie dough for a few minutes so that it is scoopable, but do not refrigerate it for more than anhour or it will be more challenging to scoop.
- Use a medium sized cookie scoop or two spoons to scoop cookies onto a baking sheet lined with parchment or silicone mat. If baking immediately, leave at least one inch between cookies. If scooping to freeze, they can be placed adjacent to each other and frozen overnight before putting into a freezer bag.
- When baking, preheat your oven to 375°F. Bake for 9-10 minutes, until the edges start to brown (the centers will still be soft).
- Cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes and then move to a cooling rack.
If you make these cookies or have questions about butter, please comment and/or share a pic!
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Week 1: New Year new recipe – blueberry galette
Week 2: seasonal – Smitten Kitchen’s grapefruit pound cake
Week 3: Great British Bake Off – Kate’s sticky toffee apple caramel cake
Week 4: Australia – sausage rolls
Week 5: bite sized – cookies
Week 6: Chinese New Year – mushroom bao
Week 7: new tool – baguette baker
Week 8: chocolate – chocolate peanut butter bonbons
Week 9: timed bake – under 1 hour! chocolate chip scones
Week 10: allergy/diet restriction – macarons
Week 11: quick breads – kale and cheese quick bread
Week 12: signature bake – purple cow bread
Week 13: enriched breads (kale and cheese babka fail)
Week 14: childhood favorite –fudgy triple layer chocolate cake with chocolate ganache frosting
Week 15: decorating challenge – purple velvet cake
Week 16: crispy crunchy – bacon cheddar popcorn
Week 17: p52 of your favorite cookbook, or your favorite blog – chocolate peanut butter drip cake
Week 18: pâte à choux – bacon cheese puffs
Week 19: veggies turned sweet – red velvet beet waffles
Next week: birthday party!