The idea for this post came after making a seriously disappointing chocolate chip cookie. I’m a sucker for chewy cookies, so when I saw a recipe promising “Soft & Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies,” I was eager to try it. This recipe uses vegetable shortening instead of butter to keep the cookies from spreading, and molasses for a little extra moisture to keep the cookies chewy longer.
Here’s the problem with baking chocolate chip cookies with shortening: They end up tasting exactly like cookies baked with pre-packaged dough. Let the cookies sit for a couple days and they taste like Chewy Chips Ahoy. That’s not exactly the homemade cookie taste I’m going for.
My wife recently gave me the Momofuku Milk Bar cookbook. At Milk Bar they have a very precise method for making cookies, but it comes down to this: After adding the eggs to the creamed butter, but before adding the flour, the wet ingredients are beaten on high speed for eight minutes. (Let’s call this the MMB method.)
I’ve never taken the time to mix the wet ingredients for that long – I wondered if that was the secret to super-chewy chocolate chip cookies.
I had already made one experimental batch of cookies – the ones with shortening. I needed to bake a control batch (using butter and my normal mixing method) and another experimental batch (using butter and the MMB method).
For all three batches, I left the other ingredients in the recipe the same.
This is a story best told in photos. First, note the progression of the wet ingredients when they are beaten for so long.
Next, compare the final look of the wet ingredients in the three batches of cookies.
Because the butter has been mixed so thoroughly in the MMB method, the dough isn’t ready to bake after the flour and chips have been integrated. The dough is very soft, and it is obvious that if these cookies were put in the oven right away, they would spread to form one giant cookie lake. Using the MMB method requires dividing the dough, then chilling it in the fridge for at least an hour.
Even the finished uncooked dough looks different for all three test batches.
The final cookies look different, too.
Here’s the analysis: The cookie with vegetable shortening spread the least. The two cookies baked with butter look pretty similar. On close examination you can see that the cookie made using the MMB method has a bit more crinkly crust.
The real difference is in the taste and mouth-feel. The cookies with shortening are the most dense and taste flat – that’s because they’re missing the flavor from the butter. We’re all familiar with how traditional chocolate chip cookies taste. The cookies made with the Momofuku Milk Bar mixing method are most certainly the chewiest of the bunch. Taking a bite simply feels different. The taste is surprisingly different, too. These cookies have an extra caramel flavor that is completely missing in the traditional cookies (not to mention the ones made with shortening).
Using the MMB method will increase the time of any cookie-making project. Not only do you have to beat the wet ingredients for eight minutes, after dividing the dough into cookie portions you have to chill it for an hour.
Remember, this is a method – it’s not recipe-specific. Use your favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe. You’ll get the chewiest, most delicious batch of cookies you’ve ever baked.