8 Pro Tips for Perfecting Your Favorite Cookie Recipe at Home
Whether you’re whipping up some sweet, easy-to-share treats for a friends reunion this summer or branching out from the sourdough craze of yore, cookies are a classic confection with endless possibilities for experimentation—and no one can vouch for that more than Andrea Prunella, the executive pastry chef at Chip City. Now open at Rockefeller Center, Chip City is known for its wildly popular rotating menu of more than 40 original flavors, from quintessential chocolate chip and its vegan-friendly counterpart to Lucky Charms, PB&J (the inspiration for this copycat fan recipe), cinnamon roll, and more—as well as bake-at-home bundles.
“The company has grown so much since our small location in Astoria, Queens,” Prunella says. “Now we have seven locations, [and we’re] looking to open up a couple more by the end of the year; as the company grows, the cookie flavors have gotten crazier and a lot more exciting.” Prunella has mastered the art of creating the perfect consistency and flavor, and luckily for at-home bakers, she’s sharing her tips for bringing Chip City’s philosophy into your own kitchen.
Start with what you know.
“If you’re new to baking or a beginner, I definitely wouldn’t jump in on making one of our stuffed cookies, because you’d have quite a headache there,” Prunella says. A better option? Go with something you’re already super familiar with so you have a strong reference point. “Chocolate chip is a great starter cookie,” she says. “You know what you love in a chocolate chip cookie, so when you’re making the dough and tasting the final product, you know what you did correctly, and what you can do better next time.”
Use the best ingredients you can find.
For Prunella, the best way to have a beautiful product is to really care about your ingredients. That means opting for high-quality chocolate, high-quality butter, and the best flour you can find. “All of these things make a huge difference in the final product,” she says. “Skimping on even one of them can affect the quality of the final cookie.”
Be precise with your ingredients, however you measure them out.
As any professional baker will tell you, using a kitchen scale is the best way to ensure your ingredient amounts are accurate, which is crucial for making a perfect-tasting treat. “You need a precise amount of sugar in your cookies, to the gram,” Prunella says. Even so, she encourages beginner bakers not to let equipment stand in the way of getting started. “If you’re brave enough to try a new recipe and you only have measuring cups in your house, you’re still going to have a wonderful product,” she says. “As you grow and get better, I would definitely recommend any baker to challenge themselves by using weight instead of volume, but when you’re starting out, feel free to break out the rusty cups. It’s totally okay—you’ll have a wonderful product either way.”
Watch your mixing time.
“You have to be really patient when you’re mixing cookies, because there is a very high chance of under- or over-mixing if you’re not watching your dough,” Prunella says. How long to mix depends on your recipe, and on what type of cookie you’re trying to achieve. Chip City cookies, for example, are large and have a lot of volume, which means they need to mix for a long time at a high speed. “We’re pretty much whipping air and volume into our cookies,” she says. “But a traditional cookie, you actually only mix for a couple of minutes. It really doesn’t take very long; you don’t want to overmix it because you want it to be kind of chewy and dense, which is the opposite of what makes a Chip City cookie.” The bottom line? No matter what kind of cookie you’re making, the key is to be patient and focused when you’re making the dough.
To nail the texture, pay attention to bake time and temperature.
Another crucial aspect to cookie-making is baking time and temperature—that is, making sure you’re baking at the correct temperature for the correct amount of time. How hot your oven is and how long you leave your cookies in will determine the texture, Prunella explains: “Because we love the crispy outside and gooey center, we bake it at a high temperature for a short period and it completely makes the perfect product,” she says. “Some people don’t want that large, gooey center and crispy outside; some people want more of a flat cookie that’s more chewy all the way through, so it really does depend on what your final goal is.”
For the perfect flavor, let your cookies settle for 20 minutes after baking.
It may sound counterintuitive, but cookies don’t taste their best the moment they come out of the oven—they’re actually much better after they’ve had time to rest. “When anything is very hot, any food, any pastry, you’re not getting as much flavor as you would if it were settled and cool,” Prunella says. The trick is to try to be patient: About 20–30 minutes is the sweet spot for mouthwatering cookies to realize their full potential. One thing you could do while you’re waiting for them to cool? Make a pot of coffee—Prunella’s favorite pairing for her cookie creations.
Make your recipe more than once.
The process for making amazing cookies doesn't stop after you’ve enjoyed your first batch. In fact, getting good at baking cookies entails making your recipe again and again, and really getting to know your dough—what consistency it should be, how long to leave it in the oven, and what it tastes like after resting. (Sometimes you might not be able to wait, and that’s okay!) “I’ve never made the perfect cookie on the first try—I wish I could claim fame for that, but it definitely is always multiple rounds of testing,” Prunella says.
Bake with an open mind.
And on that note, do your best not to get frustrated if your recipe doesn’t turn out exactly as it should on your first, second, or even third try. “Baking should be fun; it should be a relaxing experience,” Prunella says. “Be patient with your dough and with your ingredients, and just try to take every single recipe as a learning experience. Even if it doesn’t go exactly as planned, you’ve learned a little bit from that and you can move forward, grow, and be better. The same thing goes for your cookies.”
Chip City is located at 30 Rockefeller Center.