Soft and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Flat lay composition of chocolate chip cookies on a dark grey background

There are thousands of chocolate chip cookie recipes out there on the Internet. And most of them are named as “the best.” So, how do you know which one of the best is truly the best? The problem is, it depends on your taste. Every recipe I tried left me with an overwhelmingly sweet result. I am not used to eating so much sugar, and I definitely don’t want to get used to it. But still, I crave that perfect cookie—one with a crisp edge, a soft and chewy interior, and a generous amount of chocolate. So, I challenged myself to create a recipe for cookies that satisfy without inducing a sugar coma.

The sugar problem

Oh, and it was not easy! The problem, or the beauty of sugar, is that it’s not only for sweetness. Sugar also plays a part in cookie spread, chewiness, crispness on the edge, keeping cookie interior moist… All that good stuff! So, how to reduce the sweetness but keep the goodness? At least a reasonable amount of it? That takes a crazy number of experiments. And we love experiments, don’t we?

Close up of chocolate chip cookies in a pile

Why you will love this recipe?

After filling my kitchen with hundreds of cookies, sampling them for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, feeding almost every person I know, burning out and stopping, getting back to the same recipe half a year later… Finally! I found the ratio of ingredients, that ticks all the boxes. And if you have a similar relationship with sugar like me, there is a big chance you’ve found a recipe for chocolate chip cookies, that is best for you.

These cookies have a crisp edge, soft and chewy centers, a subtle hint of butterscotch, and a level of sweetness that’s both satisfying and restrained. Chocolate is in every bite. These are simply tasty cookies. I could even call them American-style cookies adapted for European taste. They don’t spread as much in the oven, as you might be used to, but is that truly a problem?

So, let’s dive a bit deeper into how I created this recipe.

How to reduce the amount of sugar in chocolate chip cookies?

Let’s start with the easy part – chocolate. It does not change the texture of the dough, but adding 100 g of semi-sweet chocolate simultaneously adds 50 g of extra sugar. So simply opting for a bitter chocolate (70%) changes things quite a lot. Et voilà! As simple as that. But, for my taste receptors, it’s not enough.

Reducing sugar in the dough is a lot trickier, as that changes the ratio of ingredients, which changes the texture and how the dough behaves in the oven. Simply speaking, I reduced the sugar amount little by little, till the texture of the cookies started getting weird, meaning that one step back was the right amount. In reality, it was a lot more complicated than it sounds. Other ingredient ratios also had to be tweaked, the process of looking for the answers kept raising more questions. And not only sweetness-related.

Flat lay composition of chocolate chip cookies and chocolate chunks on a dark grey background

Chewiness in chocolate chip cookies

Soft and chewy cookie centers were one of my goals with this recipe. Have you ever read somewhere that melted butter increases the chewiness? Yes, I also did, but it’s a bit more complicated than that. The biggest factor of chewiness is the moistness of the dough and two questions are: how to add it into the dough and how to keep it trapped inside the baked cookie? Spoiler alert: melting butter does not add moisture, as moisture is water, and how could heating butter increase the water content in it? Logic and physics say it’s on the contrary.

In this case, the moisture in the dough comes with brown sugar, or the molasses, to be more precise. You will notice, that I did not use white sugar at all in this recipe because the option with it felt less chewier. On the other hand, too much of the molasses taste ruins the cookie for me, so I combined dark brown sugar with light brown granulated sugar to shoot three birds with one stone: to control the taste of molasses, to add more moisture and chewiness, and to keep the crispness of the sugar granules.

Gladly, the answer to the second question is a lot simpler. When we bake cookies not too long, remove them from the oven when the centers are still very very soft, we don’t give enough time for water to fully evaporate in the heat. Sugar will do its job of keeping the moisture inside after the cookies are baked, and it’s the reason why reducing sugar any further is not a very good idea.

Close up of a chocolate chip cookie

Melted vs creamed butter

Still, melted butter made its way to the final recipe. But not because of chewiness. At the end of this complicated process, I had two equally tasty options with only one thing different between them: melted or creamed butter. Only this made the dough behave differently in the oven. Surprisingly, the option with the melted butter (when it was properly cooled*) spread slightly less and yielded thicker and softer cookies. Also, this option was easier to make: I did not have to wait for the butter to soften or turn on any kind of electric mixer, just combined everything in a bowl. And for the joy of my inner esthetician, these cookies looked better with less effort.

*Cooling the dough is essential to control the cookie spread, so don’t skip this step. Well, unless you prefer a lot bigger, flatter, and crispier cookies.

Comparison of chocolate chip cookies made with creamed and melted butter
Comparison of chocolate chip cookie thickness, when dough was made with creamed and melted butter

1 – melted butter
2 – creamed butter

Extra tip for fun: don’t skip the baking soda

Did I just give you a stupid idea you wouldn’t have even thought about? Ups, sorry. I not only thought of that, but I also tried it. When baking cut-out sugar cookies, I never add any leaveners, so why shouldn’t this work here? Well, the result was a lot weirder than I imagined: cookies not only baked flatter, but they failed to keep themselves in a usual form: melting butter ran out and left empty holes on the sides. I am not sure what physics is this, I’m just guessing that without a molasses (which is sour) and soda reaction, that would make cookies rise, they spread uncontrollably, and the melting butter is the quickest at this race. In case you have no baking soda and no energy to run to the store, simply change it with ½ teaspoon of baking powder.

Comparison of chocolate chip cookies, that were baked after chilling, without chilling and without baking soda

1 – dough chilled before baking
2 – baked without chilling the dough
3 – no baking soda or baking powder in the dough

Soft and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate chip cookies in a pile

Not too sweet chocolate chip cookies with crisp edges, soft and chewy interiors, butterscotch notes, and packed with pieces of bitter chocolate. They are simply tasty cookies!

  • Prep Time12 min
  • Bake / Cook Time10 min
  • Rest / Chill Time2 hr
  • Total Time2 hr 22 min
  • Yield10 cookies

Ingredients

  • 120 g / 4.2 oz unsalted butter (melted)
  • 70 g / 2.1 oz light brown sugar (granulated)
  • 30 g / 1.4 oz dark brown or muscovado sugar
  • 1 medium egg
  • ½ tsp vanilla extract
  • 160 g / 5.6 oz wheat flour (all-purpose or plain)
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 100 g / 3.5 oz bitter chocolate (70%)

Directions

1

Combine flour, baking soda, and salt in a bowl. Mix everything well and set aside.

Flour, baking soda and salt mixed for chocolate chip cookies

2

Using a knife chop chocolate coarsely. Set aside.

Chocolate chopped into chunks

3

Melt the butter and combine it with both sugars in a bowl. Mix well, smashing dark sugar lumps as best as you can.

Melted butter mixed with light brown and dark brown sugars

4

Add egg and vanilla extract. Mix well till combined.

Egg added to the butter mixture

5

Add flour mixture, and chocolate chunks and mix everything until the dough comes together. You will get a greasy and soft dough. Cover the bowl and move it to the fridge for at least 2 hours or up to 3 days.

Flour and chocolate chunks added to the butter-egg mixture

Prepared dough for chocolate chip cookies

Close up of the pepared dough for chocolate chip cookies

6

Preheat the oven to 180°C / 350°F (without a fan). Line two cookie sheets with parchment paper.

7

Remove the dough from the fridge. If you refrigerate it for a longer time, it will be stiff, so let it sit at room temperature for about 10 minutes till you can spoon it. Use a cookie scoop or a tablespoon to portion the dough, and shape balls from it with your hands. Transfer the dough balls onto a baking sheet, leaving generous space around them, and lightly press the balls with a flat spatula or your hand to slightly flatten them.

Chocolate chip cookie balls on a baking sheet

Chocolate chip cookie balls flattened on a baking sheet

8

Bake one sheet at a time in the middle rack of the oven for 10-12 minutes or till the edges get slightly golden, but the cookies are still very soft in the middle.

9

Take the cookies out of the oven and let them cool slightly on the baking sheet. They will be very soft but will firm while cooling. When the cookies got stiff enough to be lifted, carefully move them onto a rack to cool completely.

notes

  • Bitter chocolate is not for everyone, so if you’ve never tried it before or simply don’t like it, use semi-sweet (50%) chocolate instead.
  • In case you don’t have baking soda, use ½ teaspoon of baking powder.
  • Refrigerating the dough for at least 2 hours is essential to control cookie spread in the oven. Warm and soft dough would spread a lot faster and you would get big, thin, and crispy cookies.
  • If you prefer taller and thicker cookies, you can bake dough balls in their round shape and not flatten them at all.
  • The exact baking time depends on the size of your cookies, the number of cookies on a baking sheet, and your oven. Trust the look of the baking cookies more than a timer.
  • This recipe is a small batch, but you can easily double, triple, or quadruple it if you like. You can also freeze the dough balls (flattened or not) and bake them later. There’s no need to thaw them, simply bake frozen dough balls for a minute or so longer.
Close up of a chocolate chip cookie held in a hand
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