It's tough to be patient while your chocolate chip cookies bake in the oven. Just ask Cookie Monster. Let's say you want to whip up a batch for your resident monster. How important is it to bring the butter and eggs to room temperature? Some of us just can't wait that long... Let's find out!
Introduction: There's a surprising amount of science involved in baking chocolate chip cookies. Let's discuss the science behind the two essential ingredients, butter and eggs! Adding creamed butter will make lighter, cakier cookies (since creaming butter introduces air pockets), while adding melted butter will make denser cookies. Adding melted browned butter will make softer, more tender cookies (because the hydrophobic browned butter inhibits gluten formation) with a nutty, toffee-like flavor. Adding more egg whites will make taller cookies (since extra moisture leads to greater gluten development). Adding more egg yolks will make fudgier cookies (because yolks are a nice source of fat). Be aware that the temperature of your ingredients can make a difference in the final product. Butter temperature can affect how dense the cookies become. Egg temperature can have an impact on the size and shape of the cookies. Interesting note: allowing cookie dough to rest will make significantly more flavorful cookies (because proteins and starches break down over time and enhance complexity of flavor).
Batch #1 - Butter and eggs are cold, straight out of the fridge (based on Kenji's recipe):
- 1 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon table salt
- 1 stick unsalted butter
- 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 cup chocolate chunks
- coarse sea salt
Methods: In a saucepan over medium-high heat, melt and brown the butter while swirling constantly for about 5 minutes. (Just be careful not to burn it!) Transfer to a glass bowl, add 1 tablespoon cold water (or an ice cube) and refrigerate for about 20 minutes. In a small bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt. In a large bowl, add the granulated sugar, egg, and vanilla. Whisk for about 5 minutes. Add the cooled brown butter and brown sugar to the egg mixture. Mix to combine. Add the flour mixture and mix to barely combine. Add the chocolate chunks and mix. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour (if you can bear it) and up to a couple days. Bake at 325F for 13-15 minutes. When the cookies are hot out of the oven, sprinkle coarse sea salt on top and press gently to set.
Batch #2 - Butter and eggs are at room temperature (based on Nestlé's recipe):
Materials: Same as batch #1.
Methods: In a small bowl, whisk the flour, baking soda, and salt. In a large bowl, beat the butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and vanilla. Add the egg and mix well. Add the flour mixture and mix to barely combine. Add the chocolate chunks and mix. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour (if you can bear it) and up to a couple days. Bake at 325F for 13-15 minutes. When the cookies are hot out of the oven, sprinkle coarse sea salt on top and press gently to set.
Results and Discussion: Both batches had similar flavors but slightly different textures. Batch #1 looked more craggy and tasted a bit more crispy-on-the-outside, chewy-on-the-inside. Batch #2 was chewy and somewhat more cake-y. Straight out of the oven, I preferred batch #1. But after about a day, I preferred they overall chewiness of batch #2. Bottom line, it's probably not all that important to have room temperature butter and eggs. Monsters, rejoice.
Check out the texture difference between batch #1 (left) and batch #2 (right)!