I don’t think there’s anything better in this world than a warm chocolate chip cookie, straight from the oven. For years I have used this basic Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe from off the back of the Hershey’s chocolate chip bag. And the longer I bake, the more I realize that 2 people can follow the same exact recipe and have completely different results. I have heard from a few of you who have been having trouble making chocolate chip cookies– and you’ve told me that you’re coming up with results that are either wafer thin or round like golf balls, so I decided to revisit this classic cookie and see if I can explain some of the “troubleshooting” steps that I ran when I was still trying to get a decent chocolate chip cookie out of my own oven. And in a pinch, if you absolutely can’t get the regular cookies to be the right consistency for you, make a skillet cookie. Trust me on this– smooshing the dough into an adorable cast iron skillet covers a multitude of sins. 😉
What are we waiting for? Let’s do this!
Chocolate Chip Skillet Cookie
(Classic Recipe from Hershey– adaptations, steps, and photos are my own)
1 cup butter or margarine, softened (I use margarine)
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 egg, room temperature
2 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 1/4 cups all purpose flour (more on this in a minute)
1 (12 oz.) bag semi sweet chocolate chips (I use frozen chips)
Cream together butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Add in egg and vanilla and mix well, scraping bowl halfway through mixing to ensure that everything gets incorporated. Mix in baking soda and salt. Add in flour until dough is soft enough to scrape with a spoon but firm enough that dough scraped off the beater will kind of slowly fall into the bowl like slow motion in a movie. Sorry that’s a stupid description but that’s the only way I can think to describe what it looks like. 😀 Each flour is a little different so watch for this consistency rather that the specific measurements, so much. Stir in chocolate chips and press dough into a greased 5″ cast iron skillet (I got 3 skillet cookies from this recipe, but you can freeze the leftover dough balls for later if you just want to make 1). Bake the cookie at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes, until cookie is done in the center. Cover pan with foil if necessary during baking so that the top doesn’t get too brown before the cookie is done in the center.
Now, in pictures! 🙂
Baking is science, they say. But it is also art. It’s kind of like a liberal arts degree– a little bit of both. 😉 Many times in my baking career I have followed a recipe down to the exact weights of ingredients, and it still hasn’t turned out exactly as the recipe stated (Helllloooooo French Macarons). Recipes are guidelines, and the types of ingredients we use, the methods we use to combine the ingredients– even the weather on a particular baking day– can affect our recipe outcomes.
To begin with, remember my “rule to live by”? Cold Ingredients are the enemy of good Cookies. I have said it before and I’ll say it again. When you’re making baked goods, with very few exceptions, try to get the ingredients at room temperature before you begin. Room temperature butter will “cream” more easily, which means more air bubbles in there, which means gorgeous, light, high-rising baked goods. You’re welcome. 😉
Cream the softened margarine (yessss I use margarine. Don’t tell the butter police 😉 and sugars together until they are light and fluffy.
Next add in your room temperature egg (that “cold ingredient enemy” thing again) and vanilla. I like to stop the mixer halfway through and scrape down the sides, because the liquid and oily ingredients don’t like to place nice and mix. Mix the ingredients together until everything is all nice and combined.
Next add in your baking soda and salt and stir to mix. I like to add these seasonings before the flour because sometimes the salt doesn’t get completely combined if you throw it into the flour, and you can occasionally get a cookie that has a pocket of salt in it. Yeeeeeck.
NOW. Let’s talk flour.
Flour is the single, most challenging “wild card” ingredient in the pantry, I think. Because I bake all the time, I have kind of developed a “profile” of the different flours I use. I once read an old, tattered cookbook where the lady made a small remark that “these recipe measurements are correct if you use Gold Medal Flour, as all flours measure a bit differently.” And she couldn’t be more correct. Each flour handles differently. (Um, does it really make that much of a difference? Flour is flour, right?). I used to think so, too . . . but each different kind of flour, measured exactly the same in a recipe, can yield a completely different recipe. It can be the difference between wafer thin cookies, perfect cookies, or golf ball cookies. It really can.
In general, I find that the higher quality (and higher price) of the flour, the less of it you need to achieve the same result. When I use King Arthur flour, the quality is high enough that I spoon the flour into the measuring cups and level it off. When I use cheapie Aldi flour (like I usually do, because I can get 5 bags for the same price as 1 bag of KA flour), I have to pack my measuring cups. So the lesson here is . . . get to know the “personality” of your flour and compensate accordingly. I almost always have to pack my flour measurements, and I sometimes even add a squidge more flour than the recipe calls for, when I use cheap flour (which I do, often, because I am poor. haha).
Your golden rule is to look at your dough/batter and add more or less, based on what the dough tells you. Honestly, I rarely measure flour, anymore– I just go by how the dough looks and feels. So let me try to tell you about this cookie dough, and how to tell when your batter is “just right” and ready to give you that perfect, crisp-on-the-outside but chewy-on-the-inside cookie.
Perfect cookie dough will be soft, but not super soft. It has kind of a velvety consistency to it. As you’re whipping the batter, it will kind of streak away from the sides of the bowl in a sunburst pattern, but stay there, not ooze back into the bowl (see 2 pictures above this paragraph). When you lift the beater out of the bowl and scrape the beater, the batter will oh-so-slowly slide/drift from the beater back into the bowl. Picture something moving in slow motion. That’s the speed your batter should move. If your batter is super soft and liquidy, then you need to add 3-4 tbsp. more flour. If your batter is balling up and stiff, then you added too much flour. I recommend adding flour slowly until you figure out your flour’s personality, because you can always add more . . . but ya’ can’t take it out once it’s in there! 😀
Once you get that perfect, “slow motion,” velvety consistency, stir in your chocolate chips. I like to use frozen semi sweet chocolate chips. Some people prefer to chill their cookie dough, but using frozen chips is a little shortcut. 🙂 There you go– more time for Downton Abbey. You’re welcome. 😉 I have also used room-temperature chips, but I get the very best results when I freeze the chocolate chips, first, to give the dough a little chill before the cookies go into the oven.
Divide your dough into 3 greased 5″ cast iron skillets. If you just want to make just 1 skillet cookie, you can wrap the rest of the dough in plastic wrap and freeze it . . . for a dark, secret Mommy treat some evening after the kiddos are in bed . . .
But you didn’t hear that from me. 😉
Bake your cookies at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes, until they are nice and golden brown, and the center passes the toothpick test. Sometimes with thicker cookies, like these, I need to cover the cookie with foil toward the end of baking so that the center gets done without the top getting too brown.
When the cookies are done, you COULD let them completely cool and then serve them. (Pardon me while I stifle a laugh) . . . OR . . .
Grab 2 forks, some vanilla ice cream, and your favorite toppings. Dress up that GAWGEOUSSSS warm, gooey, chocolate chip cookie and sit down with your honey on the couch.
Sit there together, without the kids. Dig into that warm, perfect, chocolate chip cookie together. Watch Jeopardy. Laugh together. Heck– just sit there and do nothing but chew. Who says that date nights need to be exotic or expensive? A perfect chocolate chip cookie sounds like a perfect date night to me.
We did make 3 of these cookies, right?
You did it. And I’m just so proud of you.
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