Kitchen Science: In Pursuit of the Perfect Cookie

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(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Whether it’s crisp and flat, big and chewy, full of nuts or simply with toasted oats, we all know exactly what makes our bellies rumble and our hands itch for a frosty glass of milk. Yup, it’s the Perfect Cookie. And lucky for us, there’s a recipe (or three) out there for everyone.

When sussing out a new recipe for potential perfectness, take a look at the ratio of liquids (like eggs and milk) to sugar to fat. More or less of any of these can turn out a different kind of cookie.

Here’s a quick look at how this works:

Crispy cookies generally have less liquid and more sugar and fat. This recipe for Classic Crunchy Peanut Butter Cookies from King Arthur Flour is a perfect example.

Soft cookies will tend to be higher in liquid and lower in sugar and fat, like our recipe for Molasses Cookies.

Chewy cookies are high in liquid and sugar, but lower in fat. They also often have more eggs than other recipes. If this is your style, try our recipe for Brandied Prune and Chocolate Chunk Cookies!

How you mix and bake your cookies can also make a difference. Creaming the fat and sugar with a mixer and baking your cookies at a slightly lower temperature will make them spread out more in the oven. At the other end of the spectrum, mixing by hand will give you chewier, denser cookies because less air is incorporated into the dough and the butter is distributed less evenly.

Cookies are so quick and easy to make that it’s fun to play around with old recipes to see what happens. And even if it doesn’t turn out to be your perfect cookie, there’s sure to be someone nearby who thinks it’s just right.

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(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)
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(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

This is by Emma, who is up for one of our new writer positions. Welcome Emma!

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