The Soft and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie Experiment

It started on Pinterest. I saw a pin about making chewy chocolate chip cookies. Then another on soft chocolate chip cookies. There’s a difference? Yes. So, I thought, “What if I make the softest chewiest chocolate chip cookie ever?” And I thought some more. For about a week, I tried to talk myself out of it. I’ve cut back on meals out and other vices in order to shed a few unwanted pounds and I did not need to be thrown off track by chocolate chip cookies. But countless times a day, all I could think about were soft, chewy chocolate chip cookies. I had to make them.

So, I conducted a little experiment. I used every trick I found to make them. I turned it into yet another of my Frankenrecipes. It was a huge risk, of course, because this was baking, not cooking. And there is more science in baking than cooking. Before I tell you how they turned out, here’s an overview of the methodology.

First, I started with this honey chocolate chip cookie recipe from Saveur that substituted honey for brown sugar.

Second, I substituted (kind of) corn starch for the baking powder (actually, I still used some baking powder; more on that later). Dozens of pinners bragged of their soft corn starch cookies.

Third, based on tips from America’s Test Kitchen, I used melted butter instead of sotftened butter and started the cookie-making process the same way I start my banana nut bread.


The results? I very soft, very round, very beautiful cookie that was not particularly chewy and a little bit too sweet for my taste and not really satisfying (Mr. Eats disagreed; he LOVED these cookies). Here’s the science:

  1. Using honey instead of brown sugar results in a sweeter dough. And, personally, I missed the brown sugar. I would not make this substitution again.
  2. Reducing the amount of baking powder results in a cookie that is reluctant to brown. The science of that is explained at Serious Eats. A pale cookie tastes fine, but you may have a tendency to overbake if you’re waiting for browning as an indicator. So, I used a ¼ teaspoon baking powder. It was not enough.
  3. Using corn starch instead of baking powder results in a fluffy dough. It was disarmingly fluffy. Off-putting. Like, how-is-this-gonna-be-a-cookie fluffy.
  4. Even after reading about the melted butter, I’m not sure what difference it makes. I do know that it’s easier than using softened butter since I rarely remember to set butter out to soften and I even more rarely properly soften butter in the microwave.

So, here’s the recipe (as baked and with notes and as a half-batch). Cooking as is will produce a fine cookie, but I think it could be better.

Soft Chocolate Chip Cookies
yield: 3-4 dozen cookies

½ cup (1 stick) butter, melted

¾ cup white sugar
1 ½  tablespoons honey (or ½ cup brown sugar, packed)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch salt
1 egg
1 ¼ cup all-purpose flour
½ teaspoon corn starch (+½ teaspoon baking soda)
1 cup chocolate chips

1. Heat oven to to 375º F.

2. In a large mixing bowl, cream together the butter, sugar, honey/brown sugar. Add vanilla, salt and egg and beat again.

3. In a separate small bowl, combine flour, baking soda/corn starch, and gradually add the dry ingredients until a dough forms. Stir in the chocolate chips.

4. Drop rounded 1-tablespoon portions of dough onto cookie sheets lined with parchment paper (optional) about 1 inch apart. Bake for 10-12 minutes on the middle rack. Remove to cool on a wire rack. 


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