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How Chocolate Chips, Chunks, and Wafers Make Different Chocolate Chip Cookies

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To chunk or wafer or chip? That is the question.

How do these guys affect your cookie? Read on!
How do these guys affect your cookie? Read on! Photo by James Ransom

We’re all always fine-tuning the sugar-flour-butter ratios of chocolate chip cookies, but one important factor often gets left out of the conversation: the chocolate, funny enough. I’m talking not just cacao percentages but also the form the chocolate takes—more specifically chocolate chips or chunks (cut from a chocolate bar) or wafers.

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There’s beauty in knowing that with a few simple changes, the ingredients can yield such different results. Switch up the chocolate and, well, you’ve got yourself a whole different cookie.

Can you tell a difference?
Can you tell a difference? Photo by James Ransom

Here’s the down and dirty to steer you toward choosing a chocolate that strikes your cookie fancy:

In a chocolate “chip” cookie, your chocolate serves two purposes: It contributes fat—a necessary cog in the wheel that makes all that kitchen science work—and it provides structure, since the actual shape of the chocolate you use can help hold up (or flatten) a cookie.

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A chip has less cocoa butter than wafers or chunks, which gives it that robust, tall disposition. Chips will stand up when melted (instead of melting into an even puddle), which helps hold the cookie up. I’d choose chips when you’re after a cakier cookie or one where there aren’t other add-ins to help the cookie stay tall and upright.

The higher cocoa butter content in wafers and chunks (chopped from either a bar or even wafers) means they will melt more easily, yielding a flatter, oozier cookies. This means they’re both great choices if you want a crispy cookie. Wafers are great for a more uniform look. Chunks will be much less uniform: The lack of uniformity makes chunks particularly great for giving a cookie a more rustic look while still delivering that ooey result. They also tend to work well in smaller cookies.

From left to right: chocolate chip, wafers, and chunks. (See how the left one is the least sunken?)
From left to right: chocolate chip, wafers, and chunks. (See how the left one is the least sunken?) Photo by James Ransom

If you want meltier chocolate but with an upright cookie shape, throw in other add-ins, like walnuts, which will help keep the cookie up while the chocolate melts. Because of the high fat content, chunks and wafers are also great for coatings or in applications where melted chocolate is required.

For fun, try making your favorite thick and crispy cookie—make half with baking chips and half with chunks. Pick a chocolate around roughly the same cocoa percentages so you’re really only playing with one variable. Do a side-by-side comparison and experiment with how the different chocolate affects the shape, the texture, and even the delivery of flavor.

Your classic chocolate chip cookie just got a whole lot more complicated—in the best of ways.

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Tags: chocolate chips, chocolate chunks, chocolate wafers