Alton Brown's Flour Swap For Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

More people seem to prefer chewy cookies to crunchy ones, at least in some circles. Don't believe it? Here are some numbers to consider: National Today surveyed 1,000 Americans about their cookie preferences, and found that a whopping 65% preferred their cookies chewy, leaving only 35% in the crunchy cookie department. The survey also revealed that 54% of the participants liked their cookies baked fresh at home, which suggests that more than half the people may prefer their cookies chewy and homemade.

The problem with chewy cookies, however, is that they aren't exactly easy to achieve at home. Adding too much sugar or over-mixing the dough can result in rock-hard cookies, but there's also another ingredient that could be stopping your cookies from reaching their most moist and chewy potential: the flour. Alton Brown's chewy chocolate chip cookie recipe, which he appropriately calls "The Chewy," uses bread flour instead of all-purpose flour. That's right: There's more that bread flour can do than simply make airy loaves of bread.

Why bread flour is the secret to chewy cookies

Most baked recipes tend to call for all-purpose flour, but that doesn't always make it the best flour to use when baking chocolate chip cookies. In reality, the texture of baked goods depends greatly on the protein content of the flour used, because protein directly influences the formation of gluten. Flours with higher protein content will develop more gluten when mixed with water, absorbing more liquid and yielding a stronger dough. This gives more elasticity to the end result, making loaves of bread rise higher and cookies turn out chewier.

To put it into context, whereas all-purpose flour typically has between 9% and 11% protein content, bread flour typically falls between 11% and 13% (though the exact levels of protein may vary depending on the brand). The higher protein content means that any chocolate chip cookies made with bread flour will be noticeably more chewy and a tad more tender than those made with all-purpose flour. That's why, if you like your chocolate chip cookies chewy, you should consider swapping all-purpose flour with bread flour.

Alton Brown's method for chewy chocolate chip cookies

While all-purpose flour can be swapped with bread flour using a 1:1 ratio, remember that bread flour absorbs more liquid than all-purpose flour does. If not accounted for, this can make your cookies turn dry and crumbly. Therefore, it's important to add more liquid into the recipe if your cookie dough looks drier than usual — even a few teaspoons of water could do the trick.

Although bread flour is the shining ingredient in Alton Brown's cookies, it's not the only trick he uses to make them chewy. Instead of using two whole eggs, Brown uses one whole egg and the yolk of the second one, swapping the white from the second egg with two tablespoons of whole milk. While this may provide the bread flour with more hydration, milk is also known to leave pockets of air in baked goods, helping them rise. Additionally, milk can give cookies a cakey texture, which keeps them soft for days after they're baked.

There are many kinds of sugars to choose from, but the "Good Eats" host uses more brown sugar than white. If there's one thing to know about brown sugar, it's that it gives cookies a chewy and bendable texture while keeping them moist. For those who like their chocolate chip cookies super chewy, swapping all-purpose flour with bread flour will certainly do the trick, but using Brown's tips to add milk and more brown sugar may make them even better!