I think one of the biggest reasons my husband married me was my chocolate chip cookies. No kidding! :)
My Grandma, Mama, has the reputation for bring the best cookie-maker on this earth. We moved all the way across the country from her when I was 10, but that didn't stop her from sending us boxes of her cookies in the mail. Let me tell you, those cookies were just as good as if they had been taken right out of the oven. You never would have know they had traveled from California to North Carolina. It has always been my goal to live up to her reputation. Which is why I have devoted a whole post to everything I have learned about making the perfect chocolate chip cookie.
My favorite recipe is the good old Nestle Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe on the back of the bag:
Work with COLD cookie dough. If it's too hot, or even room temperature once you put it in the oven it's going to pancake... and you will have very sad looking cookies.
Don't roll your cookie dough into a ball in the palm of your hands. This gives you a boring shape that deprives your cookies of a gourmet appearance. Don't believe me? keep on reading. :)
(Don't roll them out in the palm of your hand)
(Use a "bunching" up the dough approach instead)
Told you there would be a difference! And yes, this is the SAME batch of dough.
Maybe /some/ people do prefer rolly poly cookies, but I think "defined lumpy mounds of chocolate chips" looks much more appealing.
Don't over bake your cookies. It's not like you're cooking chicken people! Seriously! :)
Above is what I consider a good example of an "over baked cookie" to be. It's still totally edible, yes, but it had so much more potential. These overly browned cookies may be fine and fully yummy right out of the oven, but give them 10 minutes or so and they quickly become stale.
This is why the most important thing I would tell someone is to under bake your cookies just slightly. They should be at the point of "just a hint of golden brown" when you take them out of the oven. Don't be afraid if they look a little gooey.
This method allows for cookies that store really well. People are always raving about how they taste like Mr. Field's Cookies.
If your cookies did get a little over baked, no worries, just sprinkle a little water in a sealed container and put your cookies in it right after taking them out of the oven. If you seal your container with a lid it will lock in the moisture.
Disclaimer: some people like crunchy cookies... ;)
To have sturdy, flat bottomed cookies, stop being impatient and wait to take them off the pan until they are almost completely cooled. (Not that I would ever be guilty of "feeling rushed to get all 100 other cookies into the oven" and prematurely take them off the cookie sheet, only to result in a crumbled mess! No, that would never happen to me!)
So there you have it! All my secrets to chocolate chip cookies. I may not be a master chief of all foods, but I do know my cookies! :)
Hope these tips & easy techniques help you on your quest to achieve the perfect chocolate chip cookie.