In this experiment I made two batches of chocolate chip cookies using the Nestle chocolate chip recipe. In one batch I mixed all of the ingredients by hand, and in the second batch I mixed all of the ingredients with an electric beater in order to determine which method is better.
When we lived in Colorado and in Barcelona and even for a while after, we did not have a beater or electric mixer of any kind. So anytime I baked anything I would mix the ingredients by hand, or if making bread or pizza dough I would knead the dough by hand. Usually, the cookies that I made turned out really well, and I always attributed this to mixing the dough by hand rather than with an electric beater. I assumed that because I was mixing it by hand that I was not overmixing the dough or beating extra air into the dough. This, I assumed, was why my cookies usually turned out well.
However, I never actually tried making these cookies with an electric beater, even after getting one as a gift from my dad. So really, this was always just an assumption…that I was pretty certain of.
I decided to put this question to the test and conducted my own chocolate chip cookie experiment. I made two batches of dough using the same ingredients and the same method with the exception of mixing one batch by hand and one with an electric beater. I then baked them for the same amount of time and analyzed the results.
The result… a surprise to me!
My Chocolate Chip Cookie Experiment and Conclusion:
Question: Is it better to make Nestle chocolate chip cookies by mixing the ingredients by hand or with an electric beater?
Hypothesis: Mixing the ingredients by hand will result in a better chocolate chip cookie. Better = a more gooey, softer, cookie that holds it shape well.
- I made two batches of cookie dough using the Nestle Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe (leaving out the nuts).
- I used the same ingredients in both batches, letting the butter soften at the same rate.
- I added all the ingredients to each bowl at once, rather than combine the wet and dry ingredients separately before mixing them together.
- In one bowl I mixed the ingredients by hand with a spoon. In the other bowl I mixed the ingredients with a handheld electric beater.
- I used two Williams-Sonoma aluminum corrugated baking sheets.
- I baked the cookies for 9 minutes at 375° F.
- I let the oven return to 375° F after removing the first batch of cookies before adding a second batch.
Analyzing Data: I taste tested and photographed the results.
Dough Mixed By Hand:
- Dough is firmer
- Dough coats the chocolate chips more
- Cookies are perhaps ever so slightly meltier
Dough Mixed With a Handheld Electric Beater:
- Dough is lighter, more air in the dough
- Dough coats the chocolate chips less
- Cookies are melty, very similar to the cookies with the dough mixed by hand
Conclusion: For Chocolate Chip Cookies using the Nestle recipe, it does not make a difference if you mix the dough by hand vs. with an electric beater.
It turns out that it really doesn’t make much of a difference at all if you mix chocolate chip cookie dough by hand or with a beater. They are both similarly melty and gooey, and hold their shape to about the same degree.
Visually, I would say that mixing by hand coats the chocolate chips more, so you see less of the chocolate chips after they are baked, but that has no effect on the flavor or texture, or enjoyment of the cookie.
- Do the results change 1 day later? 2 days? For example, are the cookies mixed by hand more gooey on day 2 compared with the cookies mixed with an electric beater?
- Does this result hold up with other types of drop cookies?
- Does mixing by hand vs with an electric beater make a difference for sweet breads like banana bread?
Because this result was pretty clear after making one full baking sheet worth of cookies from the two different doughs (mixed by hand vs with an electric beater), I decided to continue the experiment with a few other variables.
At this point I considered the two different doughs equal, given that there was no significant difference in taste or texture.
I continued the experiment by documenting the difference in:
- Baking time: 9 minutes vs. 11 minutes
- Refrigeration time: 30 minutes vs. none
Below are the photos and my commentary:
Baking the cookies in the oven for 9 minutes vs. for 11 minutes:
- Cookies are melty, but still hold shape
- Ever so slightly crispy at the edges
- Cookies are crispier on the outer edges and starting into the middle
- Middle is only slightly gooey
- The 11 minute cookies are about 1 ½ times thicker than the 9 minute cookies
Refrigerating the dough for 30 minutes vs. no refrigeration and then baking for 9 minutes:
30 minutes fridge, 9 minutes oven:
- Cookies are very crispy on the outside
- Cookies are very gooey on the inside
- Cookies are thicker than no refrigeration, almost double the height in the middle
Refrigerating the dough for 30 minutes vs. no refrigeration and then baking for 11 minutes:
30 minutes fridge, 11 minutes oven:
- Cookies are crispy throughout
- Cookies are flatter compared with 30 minutes fridge, 9 minutes oven
My favorite cookies are the ones that were baked 9 minutes in the oven with no refrigeration AND the cookies that were refrigerated for 30 minutes and baked for 9 minutes.
In the end I liked them both quite a bit, and considering they were both (or really all the cookies) were really good. It does not seem worth the effort, at least for this type of cookie, to refrigerate the cookie dough before baking them.