Photo: Beth Dreiling Hontzas; Styling: Rose Nguyen
Photo: Beth Dreiling Hontzas; Styling: Rose Nguyen

Soft and chewy cookie lovers, take note.

Chocolate chip cookies are a matter of personal preference. And my preferences are very specific. The cookie must have crisp, golden, buttery edges that shatter in my mouth, a gooey, tender center that makes your eyes roll back in my head, and plenty of pockets of melty dark chocolate throughout. Bonus points for a little flaky salt on top. I would choose a “perfect” chocolate cookie over any fancy dessert any day.

Basically, I like my chocolate chip cookies on the softer side. I won’t turn down a cookie with a fluffy, cake-like texture, or one that snaps cleanly into two pieces, but the cookie of my dreams is somewhere in the middle of these two extremes. If you agree, and can’t quite nail that perfect texture when you make chocolate chip cookies from scratch, take a closer look at your favorite recipe’s bake time.

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Many chocolate chip recipes, including our All-Time Favorite Chocolate Chip Cookies, include a range of baking times. Our recipe calls for the cookies to be baked at 350˚ for 10 to 14 minutes, or “until desired degree of doneness.” If you’re an experienced chocolate chip cookie baker, you can probably tell the desired degree of doneness just by the aroma of the cookies baking. But if you’re not a pro, what does that mean?

If like me, you’re a fan of tender centers, err on the side of underbaking. After about 10 minutes, the cookies should be golden brown around the edges but still soft in the centers. The cookies will continue to cook a bit on the hot cookie sheet if you leave them there for one or two minutes before transfering them to a cooling rack. Or if you think the cookies are perfectly baked straight from the oven, transfer them to a cooling rack immediately. Of course, if you’re a fan of crispy cookies, let the cookies bake a little longer, about 14 minutes. Either way, eat 'em while they're still warm for maximum happiness.