Cookies on a tray

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Know That Even Screw-Ups Can Lead to Great Cookies
Chocolate chip cookies are pretty much perfection (some purists even balk at the notion of adding walnuts). Truth is, though, the classic American milk-dunker is a wonderful base recipe for all sorts of riffs. Kathleen King, founder and owner of Tate's Bake Shop in Southampton, NY, has been baking for more than 30 years and is still coming up with new versions. Her latest: the Frankenstein, which was born out of a tray of botched blondies. The bars were underbaked, so she broke up the dough and mixed it with cookie batter, along with coconut and cranberries. Another combo King stumbled upon that's now a cult classic: semisweet chocolate chips, raisins and toasted walnuts (use a cup of each).
Chubby tates

Photo: Alexandra Rowley

Try Corn Syrup (Seriously)
King has an interesting take on the chewy-versus-crunchy debate: She loves both, but her rule is that a chewy cookie must be served warm. If it's not fresh out of the oven, then she wants a crunchy cookie. Her classic chocolate chip cookie is thin and crispy (the only fat in it is butter), but her Chubby Tate is softer, due to an unexpected ingredient: corn syrup. As an invert sugar, it prevents sugar crystals from forming, so cookies don't crisp up. To ensure she can enjoy one whenever a craving hits, King makes the dough, portions it onto trays, freezes it and moves each frozen ball into an airtight container. Frozen cookies can go straight into the oven; they just may need a few minutes longer to bake.

Get the recipe: Chubby Tates
Chocolate chip cookies

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Have Some Patience
Letting cookie dough rest for a day and a half before baking has a wondrous effect on the finished treats; as BakeWise author Shirley O. Corriher told the New York Times, it lets the dough and other ingredients "fully soak up the liquid—in this case, the eggs—in order to get a drier and firmer dough, which bakes to a better consistency." Thirty-six hours in the fridge yields cookies with rich, toffee-like taste you have to bite into to believe.

Get the recipe: "The Chewy" Cookie
Cookie dough

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Warm Your Eggs
We're the first to ask if it's really necessary for every ingredient to be room temperature when we're baking—after all, everything will warm up in the oven, right? But King says there's a good reason butter shouldn't be ice cold when you start baking—and neither should the eggs. They'll incorporate into the creamed butter and sugar better (if they're cold, they could harden the fat in the butter, which would prevent thorough mixing). But don't worry if you forget to take the eggs out of the fridge ahead of time. King dunks them in a teacup of warm tap water for a minute or so and then proceeds with the recipe.

Photo: Tara Striano

Mix Sweet and Salty
The first time we tried corn chips and pretzels in a chocolate chip cookie, it was a revelation—and our minds have been continually blown each time we've tried another salty-sweet twist on the classic. Two addictive spins: Stacy Adimando's Everything-But-the-Kitchen-Sink Cookies, which contain dark chocolate chips, peanut butter chips, sweetened coconut flakes and Fritos, and Christina Tosi's Compost Cookies, a riot of mini chocolate chips, mini butterscotch chips, oats, ground coffee, potato chips and mini pretzels.

Get the recipes: Everything-but-the-Kitchen-Sink Cookies and Compost Cookies

Next: 29 ingenious brownie and cookie mix-ins