The Science Behind Baking the Most Delicious Cookie Ever

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You like soft and chewy. He likes thin and crispy. If only there were a chocolate chip cookie recipe that pleased everyone…

There is! And, no, it’s not Martha Stewart’s. It’s science.

We’ve taken our cues from a few spots: a bioengineering grad student named Kendra Nyberg, who co-taught a class at UCLA called Science and Food, and chef and cookbook author Tessa Arias, who writes about cookie science on her site, Handle the Heat.

“Even though I can describe what I like,” says Nyberg, “I didn’t know the role of each ingredient in the texture and shape of cookies.” So she looked into it — as only a scientist can.

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Here, relying on the experts’ help and based on the classic Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe, OZY presents no-fail tips for baking your perfect cookie. (You’re welcome.)

The Best Tips for the Best Cookies

  1. Ooey-gooey: Add 2 cups more flour.
  2. Crispy with a soft center: Use 1/4 teaspoon baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon baking soda.
  3. A nice tan: Set the oven higher than 350 degrees (maybe 360). Caramelization, which gives cookies their nice brown tops, occurs above 356 degrees, says the Ted video.
  4. Chewy: Substitute bread flour for all-purpose flour.
  5. Just like store-bought: Trade the butter for shortening. Arias notes that this ups the texture but reduces some flavor; her suggestion is to use half butter and half shortening.
  6. Thick (and less crispy): Freeze the batter for 30 to 60 minutes before baking. This solidifies the butter, which will spread less while baking.
  7. Cakey: Use more baking soda because, according to Nyberg, it “releases carbon dioxide when heated, which makes cookies puff up.”
  8. Butterscotch flavored: Use 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar (instead of the same amount of combined granulated sugar and light brown sugar).
  9. Uniformity: If looks count, add one ounce corn syrup and one ounce granulated sugar.
  10. More. Just, more: Chilling the dough for at least 24 hours before baking deepens all the flavors, Arias found.

Bonus Tip: Use your nose, instructs the Ted Talk. That delicious cookie smell signifies cookie doneness as effectively as a timer.

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