Have you ever been frustrated by a cookie recipe that calls for chilling the dough for a couple of hours, or even overnight before baking? I just want the cookies now! We hear you, but we also encourage you to stay strong, because this is an important step and one you shouldn’t skip.
Often cookies that contain a high percentage of fat (usually butter) require you to chill your cookie dough (also referred to as ‘resting’ or ‘ripening’ the dough). Recipes may suggest chilling the dough anywhere from 30 minutes to 72 hours. That’s a long time to wait for a cookie, so let’s dive into why you should plan ahead for best results.
Cookies naturally spread when baked, however you don’t want them to spread so much that they are flat and stick together. How does chilling the dough help? When you chill the dough, the fat solidifies and it takes longer to melt when placed in the oven, thereby reducing cookie spread and resulting in thicker, chewier cookies.
The holy grail of a cookie in our opinion is a soft, chewy centre with a crispy edge. The good news is that chilling your dough will help achieve this.
Chilling the dough gives the flour and other dry ingredients time to fully absorb the moisture, usually from eggs, which in turn dries out the dough. This is why dough feels crumbly when it’s first removed from the fridge. But this is a good thing. A dry, firm dough will generally result in more evenly baked cookies with a better consistency, as well an increased concentration of sugar, which contributes to a crispy cookie edge.
Chilling and therefore drying out the dough also allows the enzymes in the flour to break down into simple carbohydrates (sugars). The result of this chemical reaction is an increase in sweetness, condensed flavour and caramelisation when baked, and ultimately better tasting cookies.
Your best bet is to follow the recommendation in the recipe, however 24 hours is generally a good time frame. This will give the dough enough time to fully absorb the moisture and improve the texture and flavour of the cookies.
With some careful planning, you can use the time required to chill your cookie dough to your advantage. We often make our cookie dough the day before, sometimes even three days in advance. By the time it comes to bake, the dishes are done, the kitchen is clean and it’s all about the cookies.
Let’s be honest, if your cravings are getting the better of you, or you simply don’t have time to chill the dough, go ahead and bake your cookies. They will be fine, they just won’t be as good as they can be. Maybe bake just a few to get you through your day and chill the remaining dough until tomorrow!
A number of our cookie baking kits recommend chilling the dough before baking. Our favourites are:Get in touch!