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There are a ton of varieties of chocolate chip cookies, and everyone has their favorite. I like mine with a little crust to them, but a soft center, but too many chips ruin the experience. There's one thing most people agree on: they hate it when their cookies turn out flat. You know those cookies that spread out like pancakes, where the sad, half-melted chip is the highest peak on the cookie? You know those cookies that shatter like glass if you leave them on the cookie sheet too long before trying to scrape them off?

If problem cookies plague you, suffer no longer.flatcookies

There's a super easy answer to this problem, but a lot of people are unwilling to accept it. If you take the standard Toll House recipe, remove the butter, and substitute a Crisco baking stick, you'll get good cookies. In fact, if you use the "butter flavor" kind, it's really hard to tell the difference between that and real butter. Google the intersweb for "flat chcoloate chip cookies" (I'll wait) and you'll get that advice over and over. You'll also get tons of advice about sifting flour, using fresh baking soda, bringing your ingredients to room temperature, etc. All perfectly valid, I'm sure, but totally unnecessary. Just follow the regular recipe on the back of the bag of chips, use shortening instead of butter, and you'll get good cookies.

For a lot of people, this answer isn't good enough.crisco

A lot of people demand real butter in their cookies. A lot of these same people wouldn't dream of using real butter on their toast, but demand it in their cookies. I won't name names (Thor Hyerdahl). If you'd like tall, fluffy, triple-decker cookies, but demand a traditional butter approach, then keep reading. I've got a procedure that will hook you up.

Things you'll need:

Here's what you do (follow these steps precisely):

  1. Put the beater blade on your mixer and dump the butter in. Crank it up. I don't use the top setting because that hurls butter everywhere, but I use the second-to-top setting.cookie1
  2. Combine your 2.5 cups of flour with your 1 (mounded) teaspoon of baking soda and your 1 teaspoon salt. Do this in a reasonably-sized bowl so you don't get flour everywhere. you have to really combine these. I just use a spoon, but I take it seriously. I used to think that this step was a bit of a gag, but here's what I learned — this is the last time you're going to mix these things, so you have to do it right. Some people say you have to sift these together, but I challenge you to make the cookies both ways and show me the difference.
  3. Does your butter look creamy? Does it look shiny and whipped? If you didn't answer "yes" immediately, without hesitation, then keep waiting.
  4. Turn down the mixer and dump in your sugar and brown sugar. I use two types of brown sugar because I always have dark brown on hand and I don't know what else to do with it (who keeps buying it?). Also, keep your brown sugar vacuum sealed between uses. There's no excuse for lumpy sugar. What's a Foodsaver cost, like eighty bucks? Just get one.
  5. Crank that mixer back up and let it ramble on that sugar/butter mix. Let it go for a long time.
  6. While beating your butter & sugar, pour in vanilla. I just keep pouring until it looks good.
  7. Let that mixer run for a minute or two on high. You want this butter/sugar/vanilla to be supremely combined.
  8. Slow the mixer and crack an egg into it. Fire it back up.
  9. Repeat last step with a second egg.
  10. Okay — now you should have a combination of butter, sugar, vanilla, and egg. It should look like a really smooth batter, almost like frosting. This is important because you're barely going to mix it at all once you dump in the flour. Have you ever folded flour into stiff egg-whites? Think of it like that. Up until this point you can pound that batter into submission, but once that flour gets near it, it becomes fairly delicate.
  11. With three additions, add in the flour/soda/salt mixture. 
  12. Here's what I do: turn off the mixer, dump about a third of the flour mix in there, and then turn the mixer on with its lowest speed for as few turns as possible. You want to just barely mix the wet and dry components. I repeat that twice more until I've mixed in all the flour, and I scrape down the sides of the mixer-bowl between each addition.
  13. Once all your flour is in there, scrape off the beater blade and throw it in the sink. Put the "bread hook" blade on your mixer and dump in the chocolate chips.
  14. Again, put the mixer on it's lowest speed and turn in the chips until they're spread throughout the dough.
  15. Now you just have to spoon out the dough onto the sheets. I do a 3-2-3-2-3 pattern on each sheet, giving me 13 cookies for sheets one and two. For the third sheet, I only get 7 cookies before I run out of dough. The original recipe is supposed to yield 60 cookies. Ha! Nobody wants a two-inch cookie with five chips. Shoot for 30-35 per batch.
  16. Finally, toss those babies in the oven. Notice I say 350 instead of a more typical 375. I think they cook better at the lower temp, and it's easier to see if they're spreading. If at any point you suspect that the butter is melting before the cookie is baking, lower the temp. You might save the batch.

cookie2That's my easy sixteen-step recipe. I've made a few hundred batches of these, so I'm pretty confident, but if you have problems let me know. It doesn't take any time at all to make the dough — maybe about ten minutes. Maybe it's the lower temp, but these do seem to take a while to bake. I haven't timed them, I just look for the edges to brown before I take them out. If you like them crispy, then wait for the whole thing to brown.

If you've had problems with flat cookies and you give my steps a try, please let me know.