Baking is a science, and it was never more obvious to us than when we developed our recipe for small batch chocolate chip cookies. Test after test, we would make slight adjustments to the quantity of butter, sugar, flour and eggs, giving us cookies that ranged from crispy and firm to soft and chewy. Ultimately we landed on what we all agreed to be our best-ever version: crisp around the edges, with a perfectly chewy centre. With that in mind, we took it one step further: testing to the differences to target common mistakes made when baking this iconic cookie. Here’s what we discovered:
1. Baked too long
The longer you bake a cookie, the dryer it’s going to get. So if you’re into a super crispy and crunchy cookie, leaving them in the oven for an extra couple of minutes is a totally okay move. Just be careful not to burn the bottoms!
2. Not enough flour
Flour is what holds the structure of a cookie together; when there’s not enough flour in your cookie dough, they will spread excessively and never cook through. The look of a dough can be deceiving, as sugar has the ability to absorb a lot of liquid, so never eyeball it and always follow the recipe to make sure you’re adding the right amount of flour to every batch.
3. All white sugar
Since brown sugar is made of a combination of both granulated sugar and molasses, it has a higher water content, which keeps the texture of the cookie moist. Making the switch to all white sugar gives you a crispier cookie, but lacks that rich flavour that comes with using brown sugar.
4. Oven too hot
We’ve found that the optimal temperature for cookie baking is 350F. It gives the butter in the dough time to melt and lightly spread before the remaining ingredients cook through. When your oven is too hot, it rushes this process, resulting in a puffy, dry and potentially burnt batch. Use an oven thermometer to ensure it’s at the perfect temperature.
5. Too much flour
Adding too much flour means your cookies won’t have the ability to spread at all, making them extremely dense and dry. To make sure this doesn’t happen, always measure your flour properly by using a spoon to scoop it into the measuring cup, then level it off with the back of a knife.
Using brown sugar, the right amount of flour and baking them in the centre of a 350F for 10 minutes, makes for the perfect cookie every time. Crispy, chewy and fully loaded with chocolate, they only take 20 minutes from start to finish, so it’s time to get baking!
Originally published April 2015, updated April 2021.
Watch: Baking School: How to measure ingredients accurately