Thicker, more cake-like

This is a style of chocolate chip cookie most commonly produced at small, boutique bakeries, for reasons that have less to do with aesthetics than the way their operations run. That is to say, in bake shops you have people who mix dough, other people who handle dough and still others who bake dough — and they don’t necessarily work at the same times of day or in tight sequence.

For example, mixing guy Ray does nothing but run the 60-quart Hobert mixer all day. He comes in at 6 a.m. and makes everything from flourless chocolate cake batter to buttercream to cookie dough in quick succession, storing much of it in tubs and buckets in the walk-in (where it will keep for many days). On Monday he mixes 30 pounds of standard chocolate chip cookie dough.

Cookie shaping gal Monique also works the morning shift, but doesn’t start her week until Tuesday. However whenever she comes in she knows she’ll have a heavy tub of cold, firm chocolate chip cookie dough waiting for her, some of which needs to be divided into cookie-sized portions each day. Armed with a small ice cream scooper, she goes to work, scooping and laying out 100 small balls of dough on sheet pans. As she finishes each pan, she returns them to the walk-in where they sit on racks waiting for…

Baking guy Onofre, who comes in at 8 in the evening and does nothing but run the oven all night. His job is to pull shaped-and-ready products out of the walk-in and bake them up so they’ll be fresh for the morning customers. He goes to the walk-in, fetches the sheet pans dotted with thoroughly chilled balls of dough, and inserts them into a waiting convection oven. When the cookies are baked and cooled they look like this: thick with rounded edges.

Why? Ray the mixing guy followed the precise Wakefield recipe, and being a professional who takes pride in his work, neither failed to cream the fat and sugar (as in the thin version) nor overmixed (as in the chewy version). Which means Onofre should have turned turn out standard, classic chocolate chip cookies, right? Right, save for one thing: the temperature of the dough. When it went into the oven it was straight from the fridge, which meant the heat of the oven couldn’t penetrate through to the deeply chilled center of the dough ball before the outside of the ball began to firm. Which meant the cookie couldn’t spread. But what can’t go out (at least in the baking world) must go up. So, the cookies ended up thicker with a cakier texture than a standard chocolate chip cookie.

How to replicate those results at home? Easy: prepare the dough according to instructions, then chill it in the fridge for half an hour or so. Spoon out cookie-sized portions, roll them into nice round balls, and set them out on sheet pans like so:

Chill for an additional 45 minutes or more and bake as per the instructions. One ingredient tip that I also want to share: use cheap, mass-market American-style butter, not a higher quality Euro-style butter. Why? Because cheaper American butters tend to have slightly higher melting points, and a higher melt point will help keep the batter from spreading out.

10 thoughts on “Thicker, more cake-like”

  1. can you please give a good recipe for a cake like chocolate chip cookies. because i followed your “chilling the dough” instructions for the basic nestle toll house recipe and used cheap grocery store regular butter and yet my cookies still turned out flat. i just want a good cakey chocolate chip cookies recipe. i dont like flat cookies):

    1. Hello Anick!

      The problem is that the dough is spreading out. Which means that anything you can do to limit the spreading will make the cookie thicker. One strategy might simply be to turn the oven up a little. Higher heat will set the eggs faster and keep the cookie from spreading. Also you can take out some of the liquid. Try one whole egg and one egg yolk instead of two whole eggs. A higher quality butter would make a difference as well, but you know that already. Cutting back the butter some will also help stop spreading. Are those enough ideas to get started?

      Let me know!

      – Joe

      1. I’ll give these tips a try since I have no access to cheap American butter:( Have also been forced to use callebaut chocolate chips instead of tollhouse – oh the trials and tribulations of being an expat. You wouldn’t think these would be ‘problems.”

        1. Ha! Yeah, the agony of high-end groceries!

          Let me know how it goes. I know from experience that chocolate chip cookies on the Continent are a trial!

          – Joe

  2. Well said Joe. Thanks for the tips! I lament using cheap mass produced RBH and growth hormone laced American butter over the pure and handsome European sort!! Is there any tips for those who MUST use the good stuff? (Meyenberg too)

    1. Hey Charlotte! Thanks for the note. Do you mean, which brands should you use?

  3. Hey Joe, Love your blog. I know that this is an older post but I am curious about these leave in the fridge chocolate chip cookies. Wouldn’t the time spent sitting use up the reaction from the baking soda and result in a flat cookie?

    1. Hi James!

      To some extent, yes, though newer formulations of baking powder (which is really a hodgepodge of chemicals) don’t react in a serious way until they get hot. It used to be that moisture alone caused them to lose a lot of their pop, but you can actually keep baking powder doughs in the fridge for quite a while these days. I wouldn’t try it with a soda bread, but a cookie…I don’t really notice a difference to be honest.

      – Joe

      1. I keep baking soda cake batters in the fridge for days and they bake great.

        I’m searching for your response to my last comment and saw this post so thought I would chime in. 🙂

        1. It’s funny but they really do.

          What was your last question, did I answer it?


          – Joe

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *