Guys, Homemade Chocolate Chip Cookies Really Aren’t That Difficult
Let me take you back in time a bit. It’s the year 1950. Truman is President, your only fear is Communism, and everyone has a bar in their living room. It was a simpler time. Maybe not necessarily a better time, since my main segue here involves the classic stereotype of the kitchen housewife. Obviously women’s rights weren’t exactly at the forefront of society at the time, but one thing they did right back then were the old standby dessert favorite, chocolate chip cookies. You could always count on mom, apron and oven mitts in hand, to bake you a batch of these on any given day, on a whim, whenever the hell. They’re easy to make and the closest thing to pure comfort existing in a physical state.
Fast forward, and it’s the ’90s. Everybody skateboards and wears sunglasses, and Princess Diana died or something. Everyone is too radical and busy to make chocolate chip cookies anymore. By now, Pillsbury, Toll House, and other baked goods companies have had pre-made cookie dough batches on shelves for some time now. While certainly convenient at first, the taste and texture lacks any freshness, and overall just feels rather generic.
Annnd now it’s the ’10s. Most people are fat, and Toll House recently invented one of the laziest cooking products in history: pre-made, pre-portioned, pre-cut chocolate chip cookie dough. Everything is done. You literally drop them on a tray and bake them. They go from package to your stupid fat mouth in 10 minutes. Slackers everywhere rejoice, for some reason!
Of course, I bring this all up since as a food snob, the mere existence of these offend both Meg and myself. Not just out of some sort of misplaced, condescending attitude, but simply because baking homemade chocolate chip cookies really isn’t as difficult or time-consuming as people are tricked into believing. Everyone deserves to eat freshly-baked, homemade cookies once in a while, but instead most people are trained to just buy packaged laziness. So allow me to take an in-depth look at what it actually takes to make chocolate chip cookies from scratch, and show you it’s not as intimidating as you think.
So why exactly is it a big deal? First and foremost, it’s a matter of taste. Pre-made doughs have this sort of… plasticky garbage taste to them. They taste like cookies to some extent yes, but next to a homemade one, you can tell how phony the flavor is. This probably comes from the high numbers of preservatives and other strange ingredients like artificial milk solids and other crap found in these doughs, you wouldn’t normally put anywhere near your real cookies. Lastly, while not necessarily the most common occurrence, there’ve been instances where they’ve been linked to E. Coli and other illnesses. Sure, cookie dough at home could possess this risk too, but only if you’re using contaminated eggs. Using organic/local eggs, and that risk is gone. So in other words, it pays to actually know what’s going into your cookies. (And obviously not-eating the dough isn’t an option. It will happen.)
This is your standard recipe for chocolate chip cookies, coined by Nestle, Hershey, Toll House, Pillsbury, Martha Stewart, and every other cooking publication on the planet, claiming it as their own. They all invented it. All of them. Don’t use it. There are some faults of this time-honored recipe. Instead, I direct your attention to our own revision of that recipe, which produces better and more cookies.
Poor Couples Food Guide Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe
- 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, softened
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar
- 3/4 cup packed brown sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup chocolate chips
- Preheat oven to 375° and set aside two bowls, one medium and one large.
- In the medium bowl, add flour, baking soda, and salt together and stir together.
- Begin creaming the butter, sugars, and vanilla together in the large bowl until they’re smooth and blended. Add in eggs to butter mixture and beat until batter is smooth.
- Slowly add in flour mix to the batter and beat until it forms a well-blended dough. Add in the chips after and mix slowly until distributed.
- Spoon the dough into balls onto ungreased baking sheets (preferably with parchment paper) about two inches apart.
- Bake for 7-9 minutes or until edges are golden brown.
This is what Meg A. and I use for all our chocolate chip cookie needs. It’s not a huge departure from the classic Toll House recipe, but it makes a difference. Many recipes call for an optional addition of nuts. This boggles my mind, considering I’ve never actually met someone who genuinely prefers their chocolate chip cookies to have nuts mixed in. Typically you see this kind of travesty being perpetrated by old people who’ve simply been making it that way for the past six decades of their life, unaware that nobody actually likes it that way. So point being, if you see nuts in the recipe, screw that. Don’t bother, even if you like nuts. It messes with the texture of the dough anyway, since overloading each cookie with individual sections that aren’t part of the homogenous dough disrupts chemistry of the baking going on. For that same reason we use fewer chips. While a lot of people like chocolate, thiiiis is a bad idea, considering that there just isn’t enough space in the dough for such a large number of chips. The tweaks work out for the best, and the recipe is slightly less complicated this way.
In terms of ingredients, there’s nothing fancy on the list. For people on a budget, or who don’t consider themselves food-inclined, the only ingredients you really might not have are the brown sugar, the vanilla, and the chips perhaps. Everything else is a normal, general foodstuff that you should have in your home/apartment/dwelling. If you don’t, buy them. Flour, butter, and eggs are basically in everything. And this is sugar-coating it a lot, to be quite honest. The grander point of all this, is that if you do cook at all, alllll of these ingredients should be lying around at any given time.
- Soften the butter in the microwave. One of the major annoyances in baking is having to possess the foresight of taking your butter out hours in advance. Cookie-baking doesn’t necessarily need to always be a planned, manufactured occasion. Put your sticks into the microwave, microwave them on each side for 10 seconds. When it feels soft-ish, NOT mushy, soft-ish, take those bad boys out. Instant softened butter.
- Monitor the hell out of them. One of the biggest foibles that happen to people who don’t bake often, is the idea that baking and cooking timers are perfect. Absolutely do not fall into this false sense of security. Once you put those cookies in, stay in that kitchen. It’s not that difficult to kill 7 minutes. But you want to keep an eye on them every couple of minutes, and hey, sometimes they come out quicker, sometimes it takes longer.
- Undercook them. Most recipes say wait for them to be golden brown. That’s such a subjective term, it means basically nothing. What you should look for is for the edges to be ever so slightly darker than the center of the cookies. If it’s straight-up brown, sorry but you burnt them. Better luck next time. However, believe it or not, you’re better off taking them off while they’re still gooey. Not only does it help them get stay chewy, but food tends to cook as it cools, since obviously it’s still sitting there temperatures of hundreds of degrees. It doesn’t instantly turn room temperature as soon as it leaves the oven, so take advantage of that.
- Use parchment paper. Oh my God, always use parchment paper. If you’re not sure what that is, just go look for it at the store. It’s like wax paper, except that you use it for baking (p.s. if you’re not aware, don’t bake on wax paper). Place it on cookie sheets, and put the dough on. You don’t need to spray it, or clean it. It gets thrown out and takes away any effort you have to put into the baking sheet afterwards.
- Clean as you go. This isn’t a food tip, but it’s good to know regardless. You have at least 15 minutes of baking to look forward to. Use that time to clean your bowls and stuff, so you don’t have to do it after.
Additional stuff to know:
- Don’t overbeat the dough. Only mix it until its blended. If you do too much, it will change its composition, and your cookies will come flat.
- Melting the butter completely in a pot/microwave first, and using it like that will result in chewy cookies. However, you must take super-care to not do the aforementioned overbeating problem.
- You can omit flour, to further make the cookies mushy and chewy, however omitting too much of it will result in this:
So while this all seems very wordy and long-winded, that’s not a reflection on the cookie-making process themselves. From the time you decide “Let’s make cookies!” to the moment you take the last one off the tray, it should take basically an hour. Most recipes try and claim you’re gonna have some ridiculously short prep time like 15 minutes, and 9 minutes of cooking. Unfortunately, that’s not true. Like I said, expect an hour. Maybe an hour and a half if you include clean-up. But the cookies will taste awesome, and you’ll feel better about it than if you shelled out the $5 bucks for prepackaged cookie ooze.
As I said, if you cook at all, you should have all the ingredients lying around. So ideally, it shouldn’t cost you anything. But like I said, the more novel ingredients like brown sugar and chocolate chips, altogether shouldn’t cost more than $10-$15. Making your cookies at home will yield more than double the cookies you’d get from the pre-made doughs. Maybe even triple if you’re lucky. So cost-wise, you’re gonna break even at the very worst. And even in doing so, you’re getting fresher cookies that taste better and last longer, and are better for you (or at least as good for you as a cookie can be).
Plus let’s face it, if you don’t have an hour to spare on making cookies, you probably aren’t the kind of person who will even eat cookies in the first place.