Use only the best ingredients
"To make the perfect chocolate chip cookie, make sure you use high-quality chocolate chips," says Nicole Bandklayder, creator of The Cookie Cups. "It will make a huge difference in the taste, and your friends or guests will wonder how you make them SO good! Don't go cheap!" As for what kind of chocolate chips to buy, Serious Eats did the work for you. In a blind taste test of semisweet chocolate chips, top marks went to Scharffen Berger 62% Semisweet Chunks, and Trader Joe's Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips was voted the best supermarket brand. While you're making your batch, try adding these secret ingredients for absolutely irresistible chocolate chips.
Add a pinch of salt
It might seem counterintuitive, but sometimes it takes a pinch of sea salt to bring out a richer sweetness in our desserts. "The one thing I always do with chocolate chip cookies is use chopped chocolate and finish with a sprinkle of sea salt," says Laura Cronin, pastry chef, Perbacco Ristorante + Bar, and barbacco." I like to rough chop my chocolate so that all the pieces melt at different temperatures. It gives the cookies a nice marbled look. I change it up with dark and milk chocolates or use both!" As for sea salts, Cronin mixes Maldon sea salt with vanilla bean or coffee.
Break up the butter
The fats you choose can ultimately impact the consistency of the cookie. "I use half butter and half shortening for my chocolate chip cookies," says Stacey Needham of Red Star Tavern in Portland, Oregon. "They don't spread as much, compared to when I use all butter, and also the outside gets crispy while the inside stays gooey." If you're sticking to all butter, consider a European brand, like Kerry Gold or Plugra. "The fat content is higher, which makes the cookies taste more decadent," says Jill Galera, director of catering at The Grand Hotel Minneapolis.
Mix up your sugar ratios
Ignore the directions for adding sugar, and try Galera's tweak instead: "I use three-quarters brown sugar to one-quarter cup of white sugar," she says. "The addition of brown sugar gives cookies a more caramelized flavor." Use these clever food storage tricks to keep brown sugar soft and make all your pantry items last longer.
Or skip the brown sugar
Brown sugar may be a traditional chocolate chip cookie ingredient, but it's not a must. "I like to leave the brown sugar out!" says Bandklayder. "Using only white sugar gives the cookies a sense of freshness." (Don't miss these easy holiday cookie recipes, from thumbprints to wafers, mice to reindeer.)
Try wheat flour
Don't be afraid to move away from strictly all-purpose flour. "I replace 30 percent of the flour with whole wheat because the wheat flavor actually works really well to build on the chocolate, giving the cookies a more robust and richer flavor," says Chef Shane Graybeal at Chicago's Sable Kitchen & Bar. You can also try a nut-based flour, such as almond, to make your cookies gluten-free.
Freeze your dough
Let the dough spend some time chilling. "Scoop a ball of cookie dough with a tiny ice cream scoop; then freeze the scooped dough," advises Kate Coffey, founder of Chocolate Twist. "Bake the frozen dough and the cookies will keep their little mound shape." Adorable tiny cookies are the best kind of cookies, in Coffey's opinion. She calls theirs Teeny Tiny Chubby Chocolate Chip Cookies. Want to whip up a bunch for the holidays? Try these baking hacks to make holiday cookie gifts a slam dunk.
Cool your pan
Make sure your cookie sheet is completely cool before you use it, or your cookies will get brown on the edges. "Placing dollops of dough on a warm or hot sheet will start the dough softening/baking, and the edges will begin spreading out and start to brown too quickly," explains Nestlé Toll House Chief Baking Specialist Jenny Harper. If necessary, chill your batch briefly in the refrigerator or freezer first. Also important: Make sure your baking sheet is completely clean of grease between batches, Harper adds. You can also save cleaning time by laying down parchment paper. When you're done with your batch, give some of these long-lost cookie recipes a try.
To make the perfect chocolate chip cookie, bake them for no more than 12 minutes at 375 degrees Fahrenheit. "They will be more moist and will stay more 'soft baked' longer. Sort of like a cookie-dough-meets-baked feel that will melt in your mouth!" says Bandklayder. And when in doubt, always underbake. You can always put the cookies back in the oven if they're truly raw on the insides.