Editor's Note: Several years ago, we produced a Food Lab video series for Serious Eats. The only problem? It lived behind a paywall, and almost nobody got to see it. Now, we're finally releasing it to our readership for free. You can check out more episodes here.
Several years ago, I decided to learn everything I could about chocolate chip cookies. I even wrote an extremely long, detailed article about it.
For the past few months, I’ve had chocolate chip cookies on the brain. I wake up in the middle of the night with a fresh idea, a new test to run, only to discover that my 10-pound flour bin has been emptied for the third time. Did I really use it all up that fast? I’d put on my coat and walk out in the cold New York winter night, my sandals leaving tracks in the snow as I wander the neighborhood, an addict searching for a convenience store that will sell me flour at 3 in the morning.
You see, I’ve never been able to get a chocolate chip cookie exactly the way I like.
Some have come close, but none have quite hit the mark. And the bigger problem? I was never sure what to change in order to get what I want. Cookies are fickle and the advice out there is conflicting. Does more sugar make for crisper cookies? What about brown versus white? Does it matter how I incorporate the chocolate chips or whether the flour is blended in or folded? How about the butter: cold, warm, or melted?
So many questions to ask and answers to explore! I made it my goal to test each and every element from ingredients to cooking process, leaving no chocolate chip unturned in my quest for the best. 32 pounds of flour, over 100 individual tests, and 1,536 cookies later, I had my answers.
That article covered a ton of the basics of cookie-making, with photos and diagrams comparing cookies made with different types of sugars, cookies cooked at different temperatures, cookies made up of different ratios of ingredients, and cookies mixed using different incorporation methods, as well as a lot of tinkering with resting, salting, browning, and buttering.
Frankly, it’s a LOT. Consider this next episode of the Food Lab mini series a TL;DR version of the article. The CliffsNotes. It's the essential information you need to improve your favorite cookies, or to push yourself just over the line into unbearable-know-it-all territory at the next holiday party.