Welcome to Jellie’s Taste Kitchen. Today we’re studying how changes to the baking time and temperature of cookie dough produce different results. These are my most successful chocolate chip cookies to date!

So this is my first “test kitchen” recipe, where I make the same recipe a bunch of times, each with slight variations, to find the Goldilocks batch of chocolate chip cookies.

For this experiment, I used a recipe provided by /u/sewamyruth, passed down from their grandma. The original recipe is as follows (with some edits for clarity):

Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe

Ingredients

  • 2 cups shortening (I used Crisco)
  • 2 cups brown sugar (I used 210 g)
  • 1 cup white sugar (I used 160 g)
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3 eggs
  • 4.5 cups all purpose flour
  • 2 tsp fine salt
  • 2 tsp baking soda
  • 1 cup nuts (I omitted these)
  • 1 large package of chocolate chips (I used 210 g)

Instructions

  1. Cream shortening until smooth (about a minute).
  2. Add sugar gradually until incorporated.
  3. Add vanilla and eggs, beating well after each egg.
  4. Sift flour, salt, and baking soda into a separate bowl, and mix well.
  5. Add to creamed mixture until incorporated.
  6. Fold in chocolate chips.
  7. Bake at 375 °F for 10 minutes. Per results of tests below, my recommended baking time is 12 minutes at 350 °F, after waiting for the dough to chill in the fridge for half a day.

The Tests

So the reason I decided to play around with this recipe:

  1. This makes a lot of dough—enough for 45 large cookies in my case—and since my oven can only fit one baking sheet of nine cookies at once, it was an opportunity to vary the conditions with each batch to see what the differences might be.
  2. I had always been curious about whether the baking instructions provided in recipes were arbitrary, came from past experience, or whether the author had really tested each recipe with a variety of times and temperatures to find the perfect combination.
  3. Probably the biggest reason, though, was just failing to read the original recipe card correctly… I totally missed the directions to bake for “10 min” and thought that only a temperature had been given, leaving the time up to the baker. So this was even more reason for me to play around with the instructions a little.

grandma's chocolate chip cookie dough grandma's chocolate chip cookies out of the oven

Each cookie was the size of a large spoonful (roughly 2 tbsp).

I baked them in my toaster oven (Breville Smart Oven®) on the middle rack, using the Cookies setting. I’m not sure how this setting differs from a regular baking setting. Breville claims that their oven cooks food up to 30% faster than a traditional oven, but in my experience, this isn’t always the case: some baked goods take as long, or longer, to bake.

All taste tests were performed after the cookies had fully cooled. Even though it smells amazing right out of the oven, try to resist the urge to try one right away, because when they are hot, they are very soft and fragile and don’t have much structure. They will look a bit puffy because of the rise in the oven. You have to wait for them to cool down and sink a little to achieve that classic chocolate chip cookies look.

grandma's chocolate chip cookies taste test

Trial 1

  • room temperature dough
  • 375 °F
  • 8 minutes

This batch was pretty good for a first go, but it had baked a little unevenly—the edges were getting crispy, but the middle was barely browned.

Trial 2

  • dough chilled for 2 hours
  • 375 °F
  • 10 minutes

These were verging on the over-baked side, for me. I like my cookies gooey and chewy. These were crunchy around the outside, with only the core remaining soft and chewy.

Trial 3

  • dough chilled for 6 hours
  • 350 °F
  • 10 minutes

Now we’re getting somewhere… Perfectly chewy. These, however, were very soft and started to droop between your fingers even after they had fully cooled down. They would probably do ok once they’ve been chilled in the fridge, but none of the cookies survived long enough to have to refrigerate.

Trial 4

  • dough chilled for 6 hours
  • 350 °F
  • 12 minutes

My favourite! There wasn’t a whole lot of difference between this batch and the previous batch, with similar texture and chew, the only difference being they were a little firmer. They’re not quite as delicate as Round 3, and thus would fare better in transport or storage.

Trial 5

  • room temperature dough
  • 350 °F
  • 12 minutes

Looks like temperature of the dough before baking does make a big difference, because these are visibly browner than the previous batch, which were baked for the same time and at the same temperature. This batch more closely resembled the cookies from Round 2.

chocolate chip cookies, room temperature dough

chocolate chip cookies, chilled dough

Compare the cookies from Round 4 (top) with the cookies from Round 5 (bottom).

You can see that the cookies made from chilled dough spread out more evenly, with both the centre and outer edges retaining an even thickness, colour and texture. The cookies made from room temperature dough didn’t expand quite as much, with a thicker, chewier middle and crispy, browned outer layer.

Conclusions

grandma's chocolate chip cookies

Chilling cookie dough in the fridge before baking for 12 minutes at 350 °F resulted in the best cookies. They baked evenly and spread a lot on the baking sheet, resulting in big, chewy cookies very much like what you’d find at a bakery.

That said, all of the cookies I made throughout the course of this experiment were delicious. Finding the perfect cookie is a subjective test, and if I hadn’t actively been looking for differences between each batch, I wouldn’t have minded eating any of them or noticed the differences.

I think that using butter in place of shortening would yield even richer, more alluring cookies, although obviously shortening is a much more economic choice. I don’t like my chocolate chip cookies to be overwhelmed by the taste of chocolate, so using about 200 g of chocolate chips for the entire batch was perfect for me, but if you like your cookies very, very chocolatey, you can always add more.