Let’s be honest, making cookies from scratch really isn’t that hard, but sometimes the lure of convenience or just the jam-packed schedule of life gets in the way. But you still want (or need!) those cookies. You reach for a box mix. It happens. I’ve done it. There’s no shame.
Okay, a little shame, but box mixes have come a long way since the additive and preservative fueled eighties. You can make a passable batch of cookies to quiet the monster from a box mix. You can also use a few tips and tricks to doctor the mix and bend the box to your will.
Here are three ways to quickly adapt a boxed cookie mix and give those cookies a little personality or personal preference. I typically use this on a boxed chocolate chip cookie mix, but it would work on other standard cookies, too:
To tweak a recipe and get a cookie that fits your personal style, it’s all about the interaction between sugar, fat, flour, and baking time and temperature.
Make ’em chewy
Add 2 tablespoons brown sugar. The darker the sugar, the more chew you’ll get with the extra molasses (and the extra moisture) in the sugar. The darker the sugar the more caramel flavor you’ll also get. You’ll want to bake toward the lower end of the recipe’s time.
Make ’em crunchy
Add 2 tablespoons of granulated sugar. The granulated sugar lowers the ratio of fat and increases the dryness as it makes moisture in the dough easier to evaporate. Baking for a longer time (sometimes at a lower temp) gives the cookie more time to spread, moisture to escape and a crisper cookie to result.
Make ’em cakey
Add 2 tablespoons of milk. This extra liquid makes the dough more elastic and adds steam as the cookies bake, puffing them up more.
Bonus: Freeze ‘Em
If you never want to be more than 10 minutes away from warm, gooey cookies – a dangerous thing late at night – or if you can actually control your portions (not me!) and only want 2 at a time then make a batch of dough, boxed or otherwise, and then freeze them. I like to pre-portion them into balls and freeze, but you can also just wrap the dough up in a log if you are slice-and-bake minded. They will keep in the freezer for up to a year.
Don’t tell anyone, but one of my life’s great pleasures is sneaking a late night snack of a frozen cookie dough ball.