How to Bake the Chocolate Chip Cookie of Your Dreams

08/28/2014 at 10:39 AM ET

Chocolate Chip Cookies
Tessa Arias for Handle the Heat

If you’ve ever scanned the offerings on a packed school bake-sale table you’ll know one thing: Not all chocolate chip cookies are created equal.

Though most recipes contain roughly the same ingredients, these treats might lean towards being cakey, gooey, crispy, or crumbly. And everyone has their own idea about what the perfect chocolate chip cookie should taste like, whether they swear by their grandmother’s secret formula or a recipe from one of their favorite web sites.

Most people understand that different baking methods produce different types of cookies, but cookbook author Tessa Arias, who also produced The Ultimate Guide to Chocolate Chip Cookies on her blog, Handle the Heat, turned her obsessively scientific eye on the process.

We can’t help but love her empowering words: “This information will allow you to alter or create your own chocolate chip recipe that produces cookies just the way YOU like them. You’ll be an expert on the anatomy of the chocolate chip cookie,” she writes.

PEOPLE caught up with Arias to ask her a few insider tips. She told us her must-have, stranded-on-a-desert-island baking tool is her cookie scoop (hers is by OXO). “It makes quick and easy work of portioning out perfect balls of cookie dough that bake up nice and evenly,” she said.

Here are some of her key findings:

For a cakey texture: Using baking powder (and remove baking soda)
For a soft-yet-crisp texture: Use equal amounts baking soda and baking powder
For a crackled-top, brownie effect: Melt the butter
For an intense butterscotch flavor: Use only brown sugar
For chewy cookies with a good depth of flavor: Chill the dough for 24 hours

In her four-part guide she also experiments with various baking sheets, oven temperatures and health-related substitutions such as coconut oil, whole wheat flour and flax egg, making close to 30 different variations. Thankfully you only need one recipe to reach your personal cookie nirvana—and own that bake-sale table, while you’re at it.

—Lexi Dwyer

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Showing 6 comments

dawn on

Regardless of which of the above options you use, try taking the cookie sheets out of the oven 2-3 min early, then let the cookies cool completely on the rack. They’ll have a crispy edge, but still be soft & chewy!

dawn on

Oops! I meant cool completely while still on the baking sheet!

selena on

I agree, Dawn! I never, ever bake my cookies for more than 10 minutes. And I always take them out when they are still a little “wiggly” and let them cool for about 30 minutes.

Once i couldn’t be patient and scooped them up with a spoon and one could swear I was eating a stiff pudding. Dont judge.

I love chewy cookies, if they have the slightest bit of crunch they are ruined to me. I want some cookies now!

John on

David Lebovitz’s Salted Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe–google it– is the best and it recommends chilling the dough overnight.

dawn on

@Selena! I would never judge. I’ve done the same thing! Have you tried making sandwich cookies with mashmallow fluff or nutella? If you’re cookies aren’t too soft spread it on while they’re still warm.

Another thing tried (I know this might sound gross) is adding potato chips! (plain, kettle cooked is best) Crush them up really and add to the batter. You get a little salty crunchiness in the midst of the chewy cookie. SO GOOD!

Julie on

For me the best way to bake chocolate chip cookies is to use parchment paper and even if the recipe is not perfect they seem to turn out.

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