I deliberately made 10 common mistakes when baking some chocolate chip cookies.
I’m not a baker by any stretch of the imagination and often make mistakes with the simplest of recipes. I freestyle a lot while cooking, but doing it with baked goods could lead to disaster.
To conquer my fear of baking, and as a longtime fan of chocolate chip cookies, I wanted to see what would happen if I made a few common mistakes while making a batch from scratch.
To keep things even, I used the same recipe — the Nestlé Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies Recipe straight from my bag of chocolate chips — for my trial and error project.
From overmixing the dough to using too much flour, here’s what happened when I made 10 classic cookie baking mistakes.
Over mixing your dough can result in runny cookies.
Overmixing—or overcreaming, in baking-speak—resulted in a rougher batter. The fluidity made for a quick-baking cookie that spread wider than a proper creamed batter would normally.
You can mix in the batter at any point, but overcreaming occurs when you combine the butter, sugar and vanilla. I overmixed the batter both during the creaming stage of the recipe and after adding the flour.
As a result, the cookies came out light and airy, and I was able to taste the butter more strongly in this batch than in others. They became a nice, even brown.
It’s easy to slip up and use baking powder instead of baking soda — but if you do, the chocolate chips will probably taste a little different.
Using baking powder resulted in a chewy cookie – the chewy kind where my teeth stuck together a bit when I bit into it.
This cookie had a dark ring around the outside, but most of it was a light tan.
This batch was sweeter than the first ones and the chocolate had an almost chemical flavor that gave the cookie a slightly artificial taste.
The cookies weren’t bad, but they weren’t as enjoyable as the other batches. So if you make this mistake, know that it’s okay — they won’t be the best cookies you’ve ever made, but they won’t be the worst, either.
Too much flour can result in cookies that look like scoops of ice cream.
If you pack in the flour—by tapping the scoop on the counter or pushing the powder down with a spoon—you’ll end up using too much. I added just a little more flour than needed for this batch and found that they took a little longer to bake.
I left them in the oven for about 10 1/2 to 11 minutes (others baked in nine minutes), and they came out super fluffy. They were dry inside, but not dense at all. It wasn’t a cake like the batch made with baking powder was.
These had a solid cookie flavor and I could taste the vanilla and sugar.
Conversely, if you don’t use enough flour, your cookies will be crunchy and thin.
The cookies were about the size of my hand, and although their extremely thin, brown appearance made me initially think I’d burned them, they didn’t taste burnt at all.
The entire cookie was crunchy, but the chips remained intact. Biting into them, I found that this cookie didn’t really stick to my teeth.
Ultimately, this method yielded my ideal cookie. If you’re also a fan of a crunchy cookie, this variation is for you.
Loading all the ingredients into the bowl at once can cut down on time, but compromises the texture of your cookies.
Turns out there’s a method to making cookies for a reason.
I put the flour, sugar, vanilla, salt, baking soda, egg and butter in a bowl and then mixed it all together.
I thought the taste was still good, but the texture was really weird.
There were air bubbles everywhere and the cookies were not that pretty. They were bumpy instead of cohesive, and looked like there were tiny clumps of ingredients in them.
Leaving the eggs out makes a huge difference in texture and flavor, resulting in a dry and salty cookie.
These cookies were really crumbly and fell apart as I poured the batter into the pan.
When I took them out of the oven, they were kind of melted in the middle. Some actually looked quite nice and rustic.
They had a bite that was a bit chewy but dry. An interesting result of removing the eggs was that I could taste the salt strongly. These were the saltiest cookies by far, but I had included the same amount as the other nine recipes.
On the other hand, using a lot of eggs also drastically changes the cookies and gives them a spongy, cake-like texture.
This batch was basically a tray of small cakes. They looked and felt like madeleine cookies, even on the bottom.
There was hardly any crust on the cookies. they were just spongy everywhere.
When I left out most of the sugar, my cookies seemed to grow upwards instead of outwards.
Not using enough sugar resulted in dry and bready cookies. They weren’t chewy at all and puffed up in the center.
And although the flavor was good, I couldn’t taste the vanilla as much as I could in the others. Both the texture and the mouthfeel reminded me of a not-so-hard scone.
Too much butter makes the cookies just what you’d expect: too buttery.
This batch of cookies was cakey in the middle, yet airy throughout, with crispy edges. They were yellow and slightly puffy in the middle and brown and extremely thin around the edges.
Using too much butter apparently made the cookies buttery to the touch and soft enough to crumble in my hands. The cookies quickly melted in my mouth as well and I could feel the air holes – which were visible on the surface – on my tongue.
Using too little butter won’t kill your cookies and they’ll still be delicious, but it will make them light.
These cookies were more like the batch that included too much egg. These just puffed up differently – they had more of a muffin top.
But this batch tasted really good. I was able to identify the vanilla and enjoyed the classic cookie flavor that comes with it.
It was a puffy cookie that felt airy in my hand. The bottom part looked the same as the cookie with too much egg: more like a madeleine than a chocolate chip cookie.
Just by slightly changing the same recipe, you can make tons of different cookies.
I thought it was interesting how even a small change in the amount of flour I used could drastically change my cookies. And I’m glad I found my new favorite cookie (achieved using a little less flour) through this experiment.
Some of these mistakes affected cookies more than others, but let’s be real: If they were offered to me, I wouldn’t turn any of them down.