Have you ever baked a batch of cookies, eagerly awaiting the oven timer to buzz, only to find the cookies have spread into horrible flat crisp-on-the-outside-but-doughy-on-the-inside discs? There are a number of reasons for this and it is generally easily avoidable. The most important thing is to make sure your ingredients are at room temperature before you begin.
A little bit of planning is involved, but it’s as simple as taking things like the butter and eggs, cream or cream cheese out of the fridge about an hour before you want to begin baking. That way, the butter will cream easily or bind well with the other ingredients. If you left out the planning step and the butter is too hard, please DON’T melt it. Softening is OK, but once melted, the properties change completely and the recipe will not turn out the way you want it to.
Other reasons I’ve found (through personal experience) is that the cookie dough itself could have been overworked, meaning the warmth from your hands when working or rolling the batter/dough into balls has raised the temperature, or the bowl with the leftover batter/dough is left standing too close to the warm oven. Baking trays that are too hot, i.e. they’ve just come out of the oven having cooked the first batch beautifully, and you’re in a rush to get the next batch in also cause the butter to melt and cookies to spread. It sounds a bit mad because they are going into the very hot oven anyway, but believe me, it makes a difference! If you don’t have millions of cookie trays, a great way to cool them down quickly between batches is to let them rest on a stone or granite bench top for a few seconds before adding the next lot of cookies…works a treat! But please don’t try this on wood or melamine surfaces!!
Anyway, back to the best ever Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe. As with most things, I’ve tried a few different recipes and these seem to be fail proof. You can make them as big or small as you like but they hold their shape and are absolutely delicious. A batch of these never last long in my home. They can be stored for a few days in an air-tight container, but to be honest, I’m not sure they’ll last that long.
Note that I’ve specified butter for a reason – please don’t use vegetable fat or margarine – yuk, yuk, yuk! These cookies deserve only the best so unsalted rich butter it must be :).
250 g unsalted butter, softened
½ cup sugar (I normally use castor sugar)*
¼ cup sweetened condensed milk
1 tsp vanilla essence
2 ¾ cups flour, sifted
2 level tsp baking powder
1½ cups bittersweet chocolate chips (milk or white chocolate will work for younger munchkins, or a combination is divine, but I’d advise against anything with higher than 50% cocoa solids – it really is too bitter).
*A quick note about the type of sugar used, some people use brown sugar but I find this has it’s own flavour and tends to complicate things – you don’t get the delicious mixture of flavours that my taste buds crave when biting into a chocolate chip cookie, but it’s your preference so try a few different things and see what works for you.
- Take butter out of the fridge about an hour before baking.
- Preheat the oven to 170°C. Line 2 – 3 oven trays with baking paper.
- Cream the butter and sugar with an electric beater until light and fluffy.
- Add the condensed milk and beat again.
- Mix in the vanilla and fold in the sifted flour and baking powder.
- Mix in the chocolate chips.
- Lightly flour your hands (so the dough doesn’t stick to your fingers) and roll generous balls of the mixture.
- Place on the prepared oven trays, allowing room to spread (but they don’t spread very much). Depending on the size of the balls you roll, this recipe makes about 30 medium or 24 large cookies.
- Use a fork dipped in flour to flatten the balls.
- Bake for 15 – 20 minutes until the biscuits are firm and starting to colour. Mine are perfect after 18 minutes so keep checking as all ovens are different.
- Remove the trays from the oven and place the cookies on a wire rack to cool completely.
If you aren’t tempted to pop one into your mouth while the chocolate is still hot enough to be slightly squidgy I’ll eat my hat!