1. Find a recipe that suits your taste
Everyone likes their cookies a little different, and in this respect, not all recipes will always yield an outcome that suits your taste. And making adjustments will not always be successful either. A higher cooking temperature will not lead to a successfully crispy cookie, nor will a shorter baking time lead to a more cakey cookie with the wrong recipe.
In the case of chocolate chip cookies:
If you prefer your cookies chewy, you'll want a recipe high in moisture content. Try this recipe from Pinch of Yum.
If you're a bigger fan of crispy, crunchy cookies, looks for a recipe that amps up both the sugar and the fat. Try this recipe from Grandbaby Cakes.
If cakey cookies are your fave, you'll want a recipe high in moisture but is lower in fat and sugar. Try this recipe from Baker Bettie.
2. Cream your butter and sugar like you should
Most cookie recipes start with creaming softened butter and sugar. This is a super important step because this is how you achieve light, fluffy cookies.
First--make sure your butter is room temperature before starting! Take it out an hour before you start baking to let it soften up. Microwaving your butter before beginning can negatively impact the final product if not done perfectly. If you forget? Grate your butter and it will soften up much faster.
You're going to need to cream for 3-5 minutes to achieve the desired outcome, so an electric mixer will make this much easier. Aim for a light yellow color that's fluffy and without sugar grains
3. Measure your ingredients properly
Baking is a science and it is essential that the recipes are followed exactly. Having wet and dry measuring cups is required for all baking endeavors. 1 cup milk measured in your stainless steel measuring cup is not the same as 1 cup milk in your glass liquid measure.
4. Use the ingredients exactly as they're specified
Salted vs unsalted butter
All-purpose vs self-rising flour
Baking powder vs baking soda
Heavy cream vs half and half
These are all different things. Don't try to substitute or your final product will not be guaranteed.
5. Don't skimp!
Omitting baking powder and just using baking soda will lead to a very different cookie than the recipe is intended for. Double check your recipe and make sure you have all hands on deck before getting started!
6. Give your cookies some space
Cookies often spread, so it's important to give them room to grow. Follow your recipe's specific guidelines or, for me, I find 12 cookies fit nicely on a standard half sheet pan (18 by 13) or six on a quarter sheet pan (9 by 13).
7. Portion, portion, portion!
For evenly baked cookies that are consistent across your batch, use a spoon or scoop to evenly portion out your dough.
8. Avoiding sticking
Nothing's worse than perfectly baked cookies sticking to your pan. Either grease your baking sheet with a little vegetable oil or line with parchment paper. I'm a big fan of the silicone baking mats, too (some even have marks to help you space your cookies!).
9. Use a cooling rack
Cookies will continue to cook as they sit on the baking sheet, so to maintain the perfect amount of done-ness, immediately move them onto a cooling rack and let them sit there until completely cooled.
Now go forth, and conquer those cookies!
SHARE with your friends and family who love to bake!