Get to know your ingredients. When you know the fundamental purpose behind each one, you can experiment with your chocolate chip cookie recipes.
What are the most common chocolate chip cookie ingredients?
Most recipes have similar formulas in chocolate chip cookie ingredients. They consist of:
Should I use Salted or Unsalted butter in my chocolate chip cookie recipe?
In cooking and baking you should always use UNSALTED butter. It has the same fat content as salted, but YOU should be the one to control the amount of salt that goes into your baked good. Each name brand of butter uses its own formula for salted butter. You never know how much salt is in that stick of butter. It is a lot easier to control the salt taste by using unsalted butter and adding salt to the recipe.
Are there substitutes for butter that will make my cookie more low fat?
Sometimes people have diet restrictions that warrant fat substitutions in baking. However, a baked good needs to have some fats in it to make it tender and delicious. Actually, most foods that we eat require some fat to make them palatable. (There are very few FAT FREE baked goods that I have enjoyed.) Fats add the textural and flavor qualities in cookies. Butter is the number one fat used to flavor a chocolate chip cookie. It lends a very rich taste, and is one of the more important chocolate chip cookie ingredients.
If you absolutely have to put a fat substitute as one of your chocolate chip cookie ingredients, then applesauce is the number one choice as a butter mimicker. This is true as far as their binding qualities go, but not in flavor.
For more information on the qualities of fats in foods and why they aren’t all that bad, click here.
Can shortening be used as a chocolate chip cookie ingredient?
Yes! I like to use a butter flavored shortening in my recipe. However, I use it in addition to butter. Shortening has no water in it as butter does. Water can mix with the flour and form gluten which makes for a tough product. (In the case of the chocolate chip cookie, straight butter adds a crispier texture. If that is what you are after great!) However, shortening gives baked goods a more tender texture. Yes, I know hydrogenated fats are thought of as bad. But as in anything else, moderation is the key.
If I could make one pitch for putting shortening in as chocolate chip cookie ingredients, it would be this: shortening has a higher melting point than butter. This allows the dough to hold its form longer while the flour and eggs set up and you have a chocolate chip cookie that does not spread out as far. So if you are a thick chocolate chip cookie lover, I highly recommend trying it. But please, stick to a butter flavored shortening.
What sweeteners are used in a chocolate chip cookie?
There are two kinds of sugars that typically go into a chocolate chip cookie: white granulated and light brown. Brown sugar is brown because it has molasses in it. Molasses will help keep your chocolate chip cookie moist and chewy long after it cools. This is why I like to see more brown than white sugar in chocolate chip cookie recipes.
You can replace brown sugar for white sugar equally. The difference in sugars will change textures, but not sweetness. The molasses in the brown sugar will add a different flavor from white sugar, but it will be subtle and rich. It is hard to get a thin crisp cookie with straight brown sugar. For a crispier cookie use more white sugar. More brown sugar will make a chewier cookie. You can always use equal measurements of both, but whatever you choose, using BOTH varieties as part of you chocolate chip cookie ingredients is best.
As a possible sweetener substitution for your cookies, you could try Splenda Sugar Blend ® or Splenda Brown Sugar Blend®. However, they can’t be substituted equally with sugar and brown sugar. You will need to use the Splenda Sugar Blend® conversion charts.
Is your brown sugar hard? Click here for How to Soften Brown Sugar
All out of brown sugar? Looking for a brown sugar substitute? Click here for brown sugar substitute and how to make your own.
Is imitation vanilla flavoring ok to use in a chocolate chip cookie recipe?
Yes, but I prefer to use pure extracts in my baking, especially as my chocolate chip cookie ingredients. Pure extracts can be more costly but far more flavorful. Because of the cost difference most household kitchens have imitation vanilla handy. In a chocolate chip cookie you have so many other ingredients that are enhancing the flavor of the cookie (i.e. butter, brown sugar, chocolate chips etc.) that vanilla is not technically the star of the show, so using an imitation is acceptable. Most people can’t tell the difference in this particular pastry.
What is the difference between baking soda and baking powder and which is the best to use?
They are both leavening agents that produce carbon dioxide gas causing baked goods to “rise” in the oven. Baking soda is a pure sodium bicarbonate and usually has an immediate reaction when added to acidic moistures. When using it in your baked goods, you want to bake immediately after incorporating your ingredients. If you don’t then you’re baked good will most likely fall flat. (Separating dry ingredients first before adding to your moist ingredients prolongs this chemical reaction. It is best to always combine dry ingredients and set to the side waiting for the right time to add to your moist ingredients.)
Baking powder actually contains baking soda. It also has cream of tarter in it which acts as an acidifying agent. In comes in a single acting or double acting formula. Single acting baking powder is much like baking soda in the sense that it will react immediately with moist ingredients and so the product will need to be baked right away.
Double acting baking powder releases the gas in two stages. A small amount will be released at room temperature but most will be released while in the oven at higher temperatures. When using a double acting baking powder, your dough can sit for a time before baking without any adverse affects.
Most chocolate chip cookie recipes call for baking soda. Any time I have used soda I do get a flatter cookie. This is why I prefer to use a double acting baking powder in my chocolate chip cookie ingredients for a thicker chocolate chip cookie. If you choose to use a baking powder over soda, then you will need to use more of it.
What is the best flour to use in a chocolate chip cookie?
All-Purpose flour is the flour most commonly found in the typical household kitchen. This is suitable and will yield good results. Bread flour is also acceptable, but using a specialized flour like self rising flour is not acceptable as it contains additional leavening agents.
Whole wheat flour can be added as a nutritional supplement to your chocolate chip cookie, but I would not recommend using all whole wheat flour. It will make a dense grainy cookie. Half whole wheat and half white flour would make for more desirable results. My kids have not caught me on it yet!
Is good old fashioned table salt ok to use in my cookie recipe?
Yes, but try to use one that does not have iodine as an additive. Iodine has been known to leave a subtle after taste in baked goods. It is very subtle however, and most people would probably not notice so if table salt with iodine is all you have that is fine.
Serious bakers use fine sea salt in their baking. It is generally not artificially iodized and comes in granular form. Although I am not sure I fall under the “serious baker” category, this is my salt of choice in my chocolate chip cookie recipe.
There are some arguments in the baking community about using Kosher Salt in baked goods. I love to cook and so I have a bowl of Kosher Salt next to my stove top at all times. Many times in haste I have grabbed and used this salt as part of my chocolate chip cookie ingredients. When doing so I tend to use a tad more than sea or table salt because of its flaked light form. Most bakers however say that Kosher Salt is not appropriate. Any time I have used it, my cookies were still fabulous, but I may be lacking a refined sense of taste.
More information about different varieties of salt.
I am not a big fan of semi-sweet chocolate chips. Can I use milk chocolate instead?
You can use whatever chocolate chip you like. The very first batch of chocolate chip cookies used semi-sweet chocolate, so traditionally that is what is called for in a chocolate chip cookie recipe. The cookie has a lot of sweetness in it from the two kinds of sugar so the added sugar in milk chocolate will add even more sweetness. Semi-sweet chocolate offsets the sweetness of the cookie while giving a rich chocolate taste.
However, milk chocolate is the most popular chocolate there is and so it goes without saying that more people prefer milk chocolate chips in their cookies. Even though it adds an extra layer of sweetness it is still a delicious cookie. Milk chocolate chips are the only chips I use in my recipe because that is our family preference.
It is really fun to play and experiment with a recipe. Today there are so many flavors of chips on the grocery store shelf you can try them all. You may discover a winning combination!
Here are some great tips on melting chocolate chips.
How should I adjust my chocolate chip cookie recipe for high altitude?
Anything over 3000 ft above sea level is considered high altitude. High altitude baking adjustments will need to be made to several ingredients for success. It may take a few attempts to arrive at the right formula, it can be achieved.
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