Welcome to a new blog feature, The Baking Buddy. I write recipes with the intent of being instructive and comforting to the home baker. I try to anticipate questions that might arise when following a recipe and hand-hold through my words. Feel free to write in with Your questions and I will answer then on my blog. Email your questions to email@example.com. They can be questions about my recipes, or baking in general. I hope to help you enjoy your time in the kitchen and help you get the best possible, most delicious results from your baking efforts! Check the blog for The Baking Buddy entries frequently. By the way, many of these questions are discussed in my new book Unforgettable Desserts (Wiley) as well. Many of these questions have been sent to me via email from readers throughout the years. I will be posting the answers that I think will be the most helpful for most bakers.
Question: I love chewy cookies, whether they are chocolate chip or oatmeal. It seems like sometimes they remain chewy and sometimes they turn crispy, even when using the same recipes! How can I ensure that my cookies remain chewy every time?
Answer: This is a great question because it is one I hear a lot – and the answer is Timing! Cookies are the smallest baked goods that we make and they are very time sensitive. Thirty seconds to 1 minute too long in the oven and a potentially chewy cookie will become a crispy one. So the first thing to pay attention to is the timing. There is residual heat on your baking pans and cookies will continue to “bake” even once they are pulled out of the oven; we must take this residual heat of the baking pans into consideration. With this is mind, if you want chewy cookies, you should remove cookies from the oven when the edges are firm but the centers are still soft. They will firm up tremendously upon cooling. If you have the extra time, bake a couple of cookies alone on a baking sheet, time them, let them cool and assess the results. Then you can fine-tune the baking time for the rest of the batch. Also, you will notice that in my books I always bake cookies on half-sheet pans with rims and use parchment paper. After writing entire books on cookies, I believe these pans give the most evenly distributed heat; they are sturdy and do not warp and will last forever with good care. Also, the parchment paper plays a key roll, beyond easy clean-up and a nonstick surface. If you have left the cookies in the oven too long, you can easily grasp the parchment paper’s edges and slide the paper, along with cookies, carefully onto a cooling rack. In this way you will immediately remove the hot pan (the residual heat source) and cease any further “baking”.
The baking sheet pans that I prefer can be found at Williams-Sonoma, among other resources.