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Betts

Refrigerating Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

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My favorite recipe for chocolate chip cookies says to refrigerate the dough overnight and then bake. This makes a really stiff dough that is hard to scoop and I usually let it warm up a bit to get something more workable.

Do I really need to wait overnight? I am assuming that the flour gets more thoroughly hydrated and any gluten gets a rest. Are there other benefits for such a long rest?

I have made hundreds of dozens of this unique recipe and I don't always do the overnight thing but usually let the dough ( which is very soft initially) rest an hour or two and get very good results.

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I've been tweaking and testing a new chocolate chip recipe to me (Alton's The Chewy) and for a few batches I've been refrigerating a minimum of 2 hours in a cold bowl, to overnight, to three or four days in the fridge before baking. I've found the ones that taste best and keep their shape are the ones that stay in the fridge for at least a couple of days. They taste mellower, and don't spread as much, but those are the only differences I've noticed - and important enough to me that I regularly wait to bake them at least 24 hours later.

I agree with you about the shaping - it's a pain to shape them when the dough is solid, so right after mixing I stick them in the fridge for a couple of hours, and when they are firm enough to shape but still a little soft, I roll them in balls, bag or tupperware them and then stick them back in the fridge. If you're in a hurry, chill in the freezer; although youll have to really keep an eye on them before they get way too solid.

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I've been tweaking and testing a new chocolate chip recipe to me (Alton's The Chewy) and for a few batches I've been refrigerating a minimum of 2 hours in a cold bowl, to overnight, to three or four days in the fridge before baking.  I've found the ones that taste best and keep their shape are the ones that stay in the fridge for at least a couple of days.  They taste mellower, and don't spread as much, but those are the only differences I've noticed - and important enough to me that I regularly wait to bake them at least 24 hours later.

I agree with you about the shaping - it's a pain to shape them when the dough is solid, so right after mixing I stick them in the fridge for a couple of hours, and when they are firm enough to shape but still a little soft, I roll them in balls, bag or tupperware them and then stick them back in the fridge.  If you're in a hurry, chill in the freezer; although youll have to really keep an eye on them before they get way too solid.

you can always roll the dough up into rolls ...let them do their thing in the icebox for however long you want and cut the dough...your own home made pillsbury type cc cookies..only you have made them..ive done that a number of times with good results simply because i dont like scooping and shaping around the holidays

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To make it easy on yourself just do this:

After you've mixed your dough, scoop it into balls THEN refrigerate!

No sense scooping the dough AFTER it's rock hard. Scoop it while it's still nice and soft.

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Anne - The Duh! factor just kicked in. That is why you are the pro and I am in the minors. What an elegantly simple solution. Thanks.

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To make it easy on yourself just do this:

After you've mixed your dough, scoop it into balls THEN refrigerate!

No sense scooping the dough AFTER it's rock hard. Scoop it while it's still nice and soft.

I would do this as well, but when I tried that with the Alton Brown Chewy recipe, the dough is really too soft and mushy to shape before refrigerating. Has anyone else had this issue?

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With the Alton Brown recipe. Chill the dough for half an hour. At that point it has firmed up enough to scoop into balls., but it's not so firm as to be unworkable. Scoop the balls and chill again until ready to bake.

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For years I have scooping the AB chewy dough right after mixing. I place the lumps of dough on a lined cookie sheet one right next to the other. Then I place the whole thing in the freezer. Once frozen solid, into a zip-lock bag. Whenever I'm ready to bake, they go right from the zip-lock bag, onto the cookie sheet (lined of course) and into the hot oven. It has always worked great for me both in terms of taste, shape and texture. Not much spread, a little crunchy on the outside and nice and chewy inside.

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I would do this as well, but when I tried that with the Alton Brown Chewy recipe, the dough is really too soft and mushy to shape before refrigerating. Has anyone else had this issue?

The AB recipe is quite soft off the mixer, but it's not soft enough to prevent you from scooping it.

I do the exact same thing as JFinLA, except I don't freeze.

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A great way to check if your choco chip dough will be easily scoopable is to poke at it and it should not stick to your finger. If it does, it's too soft and you should add a bit more flour, until it doesn't stick.

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Actually, I have to disagree with the advice of adding more flour casually to a dough. Rarely does that solve issues in baking, correctly. If you add too much flour you'll ruin the recipe's out come.

In fact most of my favorite doughs are rather sticky and hard to handle. Not only cookies but many breads seem too soft when they are first mixed together, but they are indeed correct on their moisture levels.

Before you come up with a sticky dough you should have been following the amounts for each ingredient closely. So you should have never come up short or heavy on any ingredient. If the finished raw dough is sticky it's USUALLY supposed to be that way when the mixing is completed and before the item is baked. Except in the rare case that there was a miss print of the recipe.

What I do and reccomend is refridgerating a sticky dough (as already mentioned) until it begins to firm the butter back up in the dough, then handle it to shape and bake. Although I scoop all my doughs right after mixing them, and then refridgerate or freeze them (then bake from a cold or frozen state).

To releive your worries test bake a cookie or two right away. See how they turn out after baking and cooling, then as a last resort add a tiny bit more flour. Then re-test bake a couple cookies from that attempt. Again slowly add more flour. But in my experience if the recipe is that far off with the flour in the beginning adding more isn't going to help you. You may just have one of those poopie non-working recipes.

But eliminate any problems from the beginning and measure your ingredients correctly.

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When I make big batches of cookie dough, I always wrap the part I'm not baking right then in double plastic wrap in squares about 3/4" thick and approx 8"x8". They store nicely in stacks in the freezer, and when I want some, I can let them sit for ten minutes on the counter while the oven heats up, or nuke it for about a minute, then cut them into little cubes.

I never get a not-round cookie baked from a little cube, either. (not that they care what shape they're in!)

The packet that size gives me about 2 dz, which is just what I want to make so they'll get eaten and not go stale (they only have to last a couple days, then I make them again.

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 I developed my own CCC recipe a few years ago and found after reading this forum and looked it up on the net that it is very, very close to Alton Brown's Chewy CCC recipe. After you add all the ingredients except the chip and or nuts if you are using them, keep beating the dough for about 5 minutes to develop the gluten. I have never had problems with soft, sticky dough. I also refrigerate the dough for at least 2 days (if I lock my self in a closet to stop my self from eating raw dough) to develop the flavour of the molasses in the brown sugar (dark brown sugar btw).

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I would recommend against developing gluten in cookies. The result is a tougher texture that is generally not an improvement, even it makes the dough easier to handle. 

 

I refrigerate dough and just use a strong scoop to ball it up the next day. The dough softens a bit over the course of scooping, so I line up the balls on another pan (1/2 or 1/4 sheet pan, covered with plastic) and put in the freezer to harden up again while the current batch is cooking. It makes it very fast to fill a sheet with new dough balls and pop it in the oven, and they'll always be firm enough cook properly.

 

If you have trouble scooping the cold dough, you could always do what was suggested above and make the balls when the dough is soft, or partially chilled. Just be sure to wrap well, maybe with two layers of plastic, so you don't get oxidized flavors. 

 

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I don't try to make my own cookies anymore after finding economical refrigerated doughs at the grocery store ($1.79 for 2 dozen).  I like these.  They're what I grew up with, but more convenient.

 

But what they appear to do is to spread the dough into an even rectangular layer, refrigerate, and then cut into squares.  Each square (cube?) goes round in the oven.

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