If you want to start making baked goods at home, chocolate chip cookies may be your best choice as a beginner. Just take any basic recipe and improve it by customizing it to your liking.
“Mom, for my next birthday I wish that YOU make the cake!”, my daughter told me after her 5th birthday party. Then I realized the reason I had always avoided making desserts - I was constantly afraid that I'd gain weight. To be honest, things are a lot more complicated. Though I do not bake cakes at home, I must admit I have all kind of sweets in the house, from chocolate to cookies. And maybe the worst part is that they are store-bought, not homemade.
So, after my daughter made her request, I started to ask myself why I was taking away this childhood joy from her. After all, as a child, I've lived all of those baking cake experiences with my mother. They shaped me into the adult I am today.
If your child yearns for homemade baked goods, cookies or cakes, as my daughter does, maybe it's better to think twice before saying 'No.' I know that I've learned my lesson and I try to make my little girl's favorite cookies; not only to satisfy her sweet tooth but to also strengthen the bond between us.
My adventure in the world of baking started small... with some chocolate chip cookies. They are easy to make for any beginner, even if you're a mom like me or somebody who wants to improve their baking skills.
A basic recipe to start with
If you’re a beginner at making chocolate chip cookies, start with something simple. You don’t have to add extra ingredients like walnuts, oats, or peanut butter. A basic recipe to start with requires 4 1⁄4 cups of flour (all-purpose), 2 teaspoons of baking soda, 1 teaspoon of coarse or kosher salt, 1 1⁄2 cups of unsalted butter (softened), 1 1⁄4 cups of granulated sugar, 1 1⁄4 cups of light brown sugar, 3 eggs, vanilla extract (2 teaspoons), and semi-sweet chocolate chips or chocolate bars (about 12 ounces/340 grams).
When you have everything ready, start by whisking together flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl, then set them aside.
In a separate large bowl, mix the softened butter and both white and brown sugar with a hand mixer at medium speed. You should beat them for about 3 minutes, until fluffy. Add the eggs one at a time, and remember to mix well after adding each one. When the mixture is smooth, add the vanilla extract.
Then, it’s simple: incorporate the dry ingredients, and beat with the hand mixer until evenly blended. In the end, stir in the chocolate chips. Place a parchment paper on a baking tray, shape the dough into about 20 balls, and place them on the tray. Refrigerate the balls for at least 2 hours before baking them.
Preheat the oven (350 degrees F/175 degrees C) for 10 minutes before you transfer the chocolate chip cookies to it. Bake for 30 minutes, but keep in mind to rotate the tray after 15 minutes, so the cookies bake evenly.
Tips for your best chocolate chip cookies
1. Butter is important
Choosing the right butter gives your chocolate chip cookies a tender center, crisp edges, and a lot of flavors. I think the best cookies are the buttery ones. The ones with less butter feel more like store-bought cookies than homemade ones.
You can also make chocolate chip cookies by using melted butter, but mixing room temperature butter with sugar brings air into the mixture, and this results in a lighter and fluffier cookie.
2. Why use both white and light brown sugar?
Using only white table sugar makes the cookies too flat and too brittle. But using only light brown sugar makes them too wet and soft. The best option is to combine them. Just use a one-to-one ratio of white to light brown sugar, which brings a nice crispness and moisture.
If you only stock your kitchen with one variety of flour, it should be all-purpose, because it does suit all purposes! It’s the best for cookies and baked goods, but also for bread. So, don’t bother with other types if you aren’t making sophisticated desserts! Respect the quantities in your recipe, because too much or too little flour will mess up all your work!
Oh, and forget about whole-wheat flour, it will change the taste you’re expecting! When you’re baking homemade chocolate chip cookies, that’s healthy enough! Don’t exaggerate with healthy ingredients, or you’ll miss the perfect taste.
4. Chocolate chips or chocolate chunks?
Chocolate chip cookies have that name thanks to their chocolate chips. Everybody knows that! But even the most famous chefs prefer to chop a chocolate bar and then add the chunks to their dough! If you want your chocolate chunks to act more like chips, shake them gently in a mesh strainer to remove the small shavings before folding the chocolate into the cookie mixture.