Sometimes, it seems that no matter what you do, even if you are using the exact same ingredients and the exact same methods, your cookies never turn out quite the same. You struggle constantly trying to figure out how to make chewy cookies, and it seems no matter what you do, the textures always wind up wildly different, and you are at a loss as to why. What this all boils down to, dear reader, is cookie chemistry.
Cookie chemistry can be summed up by determining what your interactions are (or will be) with flour, salt, and granulated sugar, as well as your planned baking times and temperatures. Sometimes you can use the exact same recipe, yet vary the cooking technique or the preparation technique (such as using finely processed nuts and chocolate instead of chunky nuts and chocolate), and your cookies will not turn out the same. Again, this is largely due to chemistry. Cookie chemistry. Sounds fun, right?
Additionally, even variations like the type of oven you use, the type of baking pans or cookie sheets you use, the type of sugar you use for your cookies, and even the weather and microclimate inside your kitchen can all affect your baking endeavors.
That means even if you follow a recipe down to every jot and tittle, your results will likely be different than my results. Whether you love a chewy chocolate chip cookie or you prefer a peanut butter cookie recipe, following this guide will help you bake a chewier cookie no matter which variety you choose. With that said, here are some basic rules of the road you can follow to help give your cookies that chewy, delicious texture you're desperately seeking.
What’s in a Chewy Cookie?
Well, the long and short answer to chewy cookies is it’s all about the moisture content. Cookies that are dense and chewy incorporate more moisture into the batter. This can be achieved by making substitutions with ingredients, or even just changing the way you incorporate certain ingredients. Plus, your particular baking technique and your method of storing cookies can also play a role.
Substitute or Add Ingredients
Sometimes, depending on your recipe, you can add or sub out ingredients with good results. Who says baking cookies has to follow some rulebook anyway? Um, except the rules of science. But you can make subtle as well as some not-so-subtle variations in your recipe and achieve a desired result without sacrificing flavor or texture.
Use Brown Sugar
In most cookie recipes, some type of sweetener is required. Usually, it's sugar, and often it is white sugar. However, you can use brown sugar as well, since brown sugar contains more moisture. Try substituting brown sugar for white sugar on a one-to-one basis, or you can try subbing out most of your white granulated sugar for brown, but still leave a small percentage white.
For instance, if you need 2 cups of sugar, you could use 1 1/2 cups of brown sugar and 1/2 cup of white sugar instead. It's all about experimentation, so try it and see what happens. Keep in mind that brown sugar will also give your cookies a more caramelized color and deeper flavor, which is excellent.
Add Molasses or Honey
Another way to add more moisture to your cookies is incorporate a tablespoon of molasses into a standard-sized cookie recipe. Don't use any more than a tablespoon, because it will make your cookies very sweet and runny. One tablespoon is just enough. If you do not like the strong flavor of molasses, try honey instead.
Replace Butter with Vegetable Shortening
Because butter contains milk solids, fat, and water, using butter can cause steaming while baking, which can dry out your cookies. However, vegetable shortening is made up entirely of fat, so it doesn't have this problem. It also melts at higher temperatures, which gives your cookie batter more time to rise.
This helps retain moisture and makes your cookies chewier. If you can't stand not having that butter flavor, you can try butter-flavored shortening, or you can try splitting the required amounts between butter and shortening. Always use a one-to-one ratio when replacing butter with shortening.
Double Your Yolks
Most cookie recipes call for at least one egg. You can try omitting the white of each egg, which tends to dry out when baked, and replacing it with an additional yolk Plus, egg yolks have more fat than egg whites, which helps to keep your cookies moist and chewy.
Use Baking Powder
You can try using baking powder instead of baking soda. This will keep your cookie from spreading as much because powder is more acidic. Remember that the thinner your cookies are, the less moisture they will have, which is why using baking powder can be helpful.
Try Different Baking Techniques
Another way to make your cookies chewy is to try different baking techniques and adjustments, and make sure you are using the right tools for baking as well as mixing your cookie batter.
Adjust Your Oven Temps
You can try turning the temperature down when baking. A lot of cookie recipes use 350°F as the preferred temperature, but if you lower it to 325°F, your cookies will cook a little slower and retain more moisture.
Shorten Your Baking Time
Another way to keep your cookies chewy and tender is to try baking them for less time. Especially if you’ve made them before and they came a little crunchy, you can shorten the time and see what happens. Try cooking them until the edges are golden, and the centers are still soft and not quite set.
Use Proper Measuring Cups and Spoons
This might seem like a no-brainer, but it's important to remember that there are different measuring utensils for both wet ingredients and dry ingredients. Though they might hold the same amount in volume, if you use the wrong measure for the wrong type of ingredient, you can mess up your ingredient ratios and wind up with cookies that aren't nearly as chewy or tasty as you intended.
For instance, if you measure out milk or oil into a dry measuring cup, it won't give you the same amount as a liquid measuring cup will. This is because when you use a dry measuring cup, you are likely to spill if you fill it all the way to the top. This means that you aren’t using the full amount of liquid the recipe calls for, and it will affect your results.
Rest the Dough
A secret baker's trick is to rest your cookie dough in the fridge. You can rest it for at least an hour, which will evaporate some of the water and increase the sugar content, helping to keep your cookies chewy. The longer you allow your dough to rest in the fridge, the chewier your cookies will be. Some professionals even rest the dough for several days.
Consider Your Cookie Sheets
Another thing to think about is what type of cookie sheet you are using. Different styles and different colors can change your result. Additionally, if you use a baking sheet that has grease baked onto them, or pans that are dark in color, you will have crispier bottoms and middles that are not quite done.
One smart tip is to decide what kind of baking sheet you want to use, and then only use that sheet to bake cookies. Don't use it to bake anything else. This will help ensure that it is ready to be used when the time comes, and it will cook your cookies perfectly.
The cookie sheets that yield the best results typically have low or no sides and are lighter in color. You can also lay parchment paper on your your baking tray to help your cookies bake evenly and keep the bottoms from getting too brown, too fast. This will result in a chewier cookie that has a slightly crispy edge to it.
Allow your cookies to cool completely, then store them in an airtight container once they reach room temperature. If you leave them out too long, they will begin to dry out. It is definitely best to store them in an airtight container, whether that’s a Tupperware bowl, a cookie jar with a sealed lid, or a Ziploc bag. Just make sure they are fully cooled, because if they are still hot when you store them, they can fall apart.
Making Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
One of the most popular types of cookie is chocolate chip. Two ways that you can help make sure your chocolate chip cookies come out soft and chewy is to add a packet of cook and serve vanilla pudding mix to the batter, or add finely shredded chocolate instead of chunkier chocolate.
The smaller chocolate particles will melt faster and create more moisture in your cookies. Soft chocolate chip cookies are highly prized, and if you master the art of making them, all of your friends and family will request them over the holidays!
As you can see, learning how to make chewy cookies isn't difficult. It's all about cookie chemistry and being willing to experiment in the kitchen. Sometimes your experiments will fail, but that's okay, it's all part of the learning process. And when you find that perfect cookie recipe and cooking technique, you will make delicious, chewy cookies every time.