tips & tricks

TOTALLY BAKED 
How to make the perfect chocolate chip cookie.

Written by Annie Flanzraich
Photos by Wade Snider

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The chocolate chip cookies at the Village at Squaw's Wildflour Baking Co. start with quality chocolate chips

In this time of partisanship and divisiveness, there may be only one subject that can genuinely cross divides and unite neighbors: the pursuit of the perfect chocolate chip cookie. 

Now, the definition of “perfect” may differ depending on whom you ask. Some like their cookies ooey-gooey in the middle, with a crisp circumference. Others prefer a crunchy experience through and through. Then there are the debates between flat versus dense, chunks versus chips, and white sugar versus brown sugar.

But in the end, there are no losers — only deliciously satisfied winners.

So what are the elements that come together to create the perfect chocolate chip cookie? Four bakers and bake-shop proprietors weigh in on this vital question.

Quality In, Quality Out
While the bakers vary in their opinions, all agreed explicitly on one point: quality ingredients are a must.

“You can’t skimp or cheapen the product at all,” says LeAnn Berriesford, general manager of locally beloved sandwich shop Deli Towne USA in Reno and one of the bakers of its crave-worthy cookies. “You get the good stuff out when you put good stuff in.”

Quality chocolate is critical.

“When I originally made this cookie, I tried 30 different chocolate chips before I settled on one,” says Susan Lopez, owner of Wildflour Baking Co. in the Village at Squaw. 

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Wildflour Baking Co. owner Susan Lopez pulls a tray of her signature chocolate chip cookies out of the oven

A Dash of Ingenuity
Adding a bit of the unexpected also makes for a delicious cookie. At Rounds Bakery in Reno, the company’s flagship New York-style bagels influenced its cookies, says co-owner Anton Novak.

“What goes great with bagels? Cream cheese,” Novak says. “We put a little bit of cream cheese in our chocolate chip cookies, which makes them creamier.”

Preparation is Key
Cold proofing its bagels also helped Rounds’ bakers fine-tune their cookie dough preparation, Novak says.

“Let the dough sit for two to three days refrigerated,” Novak says. “The granulations of the sugars get absorbed directly into the dough, and it allows the ingredients to melt together.” 

All Sizes Are Beautiful
When it comes to describing how to shape the perfect cookie, opinions diverge.

At Mix Bakeshop in Reno, owner Mary Allstead prefers the “fluffy” method, in which the baker doesn’t try to make each cookie a uniform ball with a scoop. 

“When it bakes, it’s not perfectly flat across the top,” Allstead says. “The parts that are a little taller get brown and the parts that are not, don’t. It looks really beautiful.”

However, Rounds’ bakers favor a uniform shape.

“Scooping them out and making them all the same size ensures that all your cookies bake the same way and equally,” Novak says.

Treat Each Cookie Individually
As for baking time, each cookie deserves special treatment, Allstead says, depending on the day’s humidity, temperature, and other weather conditions. 

“It bakes differently every single day,” she says.

More Than a Recipe
Then there are the necessary ingredients that aren’t spelled out in a recipe. At Wildflour, one of those is persistence.

“I’m always working on recipes,” says Lopez, who began her cookie career as a “cookie monster” at the Vail Gourmet Cookie Co. in Vail, Colo., before opening Wildflour in 1983 at Squaw. “Right now, I’m working on a chocolate-chocolate cookie. So far, I’ve had eight failures, but that’s OK. I’m going to keep working on it, and I’ll get it right.” 

Ultimately, the perfect cookie is more than just a recipe, Lopez says.

“We’re the sum of the stories of our customers, and all the stories make our collective history,” she says. “It’s more than just cookies.”

Annie Flanzraich is a Reno-based writer and editor who prefers her cookies ooey-gooey in the middle, with a crisp circumference. She’s agnostic when it comes to chips versus chunks.

 

Resources

Deli Towne USA
3650 Lakeside Drive, Reno
775-826-4466 • Delitowneusa.com

Mix Bakeshop
1117 California Ave., Reno
775-329-1748 • Mixreno.com

Rounds Bakery
294 E. Moana Lane, Ste. 10, Reno
775-329-0800 • Roundsbakery.com

Wildflour Baking Co.
1990 Squaw Valley Road, Olympic Valley
530-583-1963 • Squawalpine.com/events-things-do/wildflour-baking-company

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