A chocolate chip cookie. That is probably the most recognizable type of drop cookie.
So what is a drop cookie? A drop cookie is a cookie that can be dropped from a spoon, hence the name.
In the second post of The Holiday Cookie Masterclass, we will be discussing everything related to drop cookies, including a tad bit of science! If you missed the first post of the series, 10 Tips for Perfect Holiday Cookies, you can read it here. The tips mentioned in this post are specific to drop cookies while the tips in the previous post are more generic!
Although they come in all different flavors, some of the most recognizable drop cookies are chocolate chip cookies and oatmeal raisin cookies, to name a few. With less flour than a rolled cookie, drop cookies are scooped or dropped onto a cookie sheet and put in the oven to bake up!
Here are some of my favorite tips specific to drop cookies so you can make the best drop cookies!
Refrigerate the dough! I know it is so tempting to skip this step. Let’s face it, all we want is to eat a warm, home-baked cookie. But this step is important because it will prevent excess spreading. Additionally, if you leave the cookie dough in the fridge for 24-72 hours (If you can wait…) the flavors will develop and you will have a cookie that has deeper caramel flavor tones. In brief, if the cookie recipe says to refrigerate the dough, do it! If the cookies are spreading too much, put the dough in the fridge for at least 30 minutes and this should remedy the issue!
Use a cookie scoop or a scale to make sure that all of your cookies are the same size. Cookies that are the same size will all be done at the same time. Isn’t it frustrating when half the cookies on one sheet are perfectly done and the other half are overcooked? Making them all the same size should fix this issue!
Rotate your cookie sheet halfway through baking. In order to get an even bake across all cookies on a sheet, it is important to rotate the sheet!
Always check your cookies at the minimum time given in a recipe. Every oven is different so to be sure that your cookies don’t get over baked, check them at the minimum time and you can always add a few more minutes if necessary!
One common question is how to freeze cookie dough? My favorite way is to place proportioned balls of cookie dough on a lined baking sheet and place them in the freezer. Once they are frozen, place the cookie dough balls in a freezer bag and store them in the freezer. When you want to use them, just stick them on a cookie sheet and place them in the oven. Since the cookie dough is frozen you may need to add a few minutes to the cooking time.
Now that you have all the tools to bake your best cookies, it is time for a little baking science! Don’t get scared, I will try and make it as simple and straightforward as possible.
In college, I worked in a wet lab (the kind that makes you think of scientists in white lab coats and protective goggles). I studied the anthocyanin content of chokeberries, also known as aronia (anyone heard of them?).
Conducting science experiments requires that you follow a set protocol and measure everything precisely, even if it is 50 mg of some sticky powder (yes, that is from experience). The exact same is true with baking. Instead of a protocol, you have your recipe, and it is critical to measure your ingredients. Although in cooking you can add a pinch or this and a pinch of that, this is not the case in baking.
When thinking of it in this light, baking is a science experiment. Just a much yummier one where you can eat the end product 🙂
With that said, I had always wondered what makes a chewy cookie vs a crispy cookie? What makes a thick cookie vs a thin cookie? I found out that the answer is all of the ingredients and their proportions in a given recipe. Since I think this is fun to know (you can impress all your friends), I am going to share what I have learned with you!
How does each ingredient play a role in the texture of a cookie?
Butter: Along with providing a rich buttery flavor, the amount of butter used in a recipe contributes to the texture of the cookie as well. Melted but is used to give chewy cookies their signature texture. Using softened butter and creaming it will sugar can give the cookie a more cakey texture.
Flour: Although all-purpose flour is most commonly used in cookies, cake flour can be used to give cookies a more tender texture. This is due to the protein content in the different flours as cake flour has a lower protein content than all-purpose flour. Thick cookies tend to have more flour compared to thinner cookies, which makes sense.
Egg: Eggs have two main parts, the egg yolk, and the egg white. Egg yolks add moisture to a recipe while egg whites result in a crispy end product. For an extra chewy cookie, an egg yolk is added while egg whites may be used if a crispier cookie is desired.
Sugar: Brown sugar adds moisture to cookies giving them a chewier texture while white sugar promotes spreading. For a chewier cookie use a higher ratio of brown sugar to white sugar. For a thinner, crispier cookie use a higher ratio of white sugar to brown sugar.
Leaveners: In cookies, baking soda and baking powder are the most commonly used leavening agents. Baking soda or sodium bicarbonate is used in recipes that have acidic ingredients such as chocolate, brown sugar, buttermilk, sour cream, or yogurt. Being a more powerful leavening agent than baking powder, baking soda is used in much smaller quantities, typically ¼ teaspoon per 1 cup flour.
Baking powder is a mixture of cornstarch, baking soda, and an acid. Since baking powder already contains the acid, it can be used in recipes that do not have an acidic ingredient. Baking powder acts twice, first when it comes in contact with liquid and second when exposed to heat in the oven. These leavening agents can be used independently or together.
Cornstarch: Adding cornstarch or corn flour to cookies makes them soft even the next day. So know you do not have to be disappointed that the soft and chewy cookie you baked yesterday is no longer soft!
Milk (or another liquid): Sometimes you will see milk being added to cookies. This produces a thinner, crispier cookie.
Along with the ingredients you use, the size and baking time of the cookie dough affect the texture of the cookies as well!
Cookie size: If you want a chewy cookie, use a larger amount of dough. Since there is more dough the center will remain slightly undercooked giving you crisp edges and a chewy cookie center.
Baking time: If you want chewy cookies, underbake your cookies. They will stay moist in the center while crisp on the outside. If you prefer a crispy cookie, cook the cookie until it reaches a deep brown color.
Now that we understand what a drop cookie is and a bit of the science behind it, my next post later this week will be a recipe! I hope you found this information useful and interesting. I would love to hear your thoughts!
Stay tuned for my next recipe, which may or may not include large puddles of melted chocolate 🙂