Take the 2-minute tour ×
Seasoned Advice is a question and answer site for professional and amateur chefs. It's 100% free, no registration required.

I've been charged with the task of making 100+ chocolate chip cookies every other day. As it stands, it takes me over 10 hours to do this. I was wondering if anyone had any advice on how to cut down the time for this?

My recipe is here and workflow (with time) is like this:

  1. (make) 6x the dough (this takes about 25-30 minutes)
  2. let the dough chill in freezer for about 30 minutes
  3. preheat oven to 325F (this takes ~ 20 minutes, but I let the oven sit at 325 for another 20 minutes)
  4. bring out dough (in parts), measure and compress dough into 56g (~2 oz.) balls (this is the time sink)
  5. Once I have 18 balls, I rip them according to the recipe's instructions, place 9 on one cookie sheet, and 9 on another.
  6. Bake the cookies for 24 minutes (swap racks and rotate sheets at 12 minute mark), simultaneously "process" more dough.
  7. Take cookies out, let sheets cool for another 10 minutes, and put another batch of 18 in the oven.

Since it's clear that I can't make my cookies bake any faster, I think my bottle neck is the "processing" of the dough. I'm okay with getting cookies that are 56g +/- 3g, anyone have any time-tested suggestions?

share|improve this question
    
It sounds like you are doing 2 and after that 3, instead of at the same time - is there a reason for that? Or was it just an ambiguous description? –  rumtscho Mar 14 '12 at 0:46
    
Is #2 necessary? I've never done it and my cookies have always turned out OK. Also, for #4, do you really measure that precisely? Being that accurate will cost you time. –  FrustratedWithFormsDesigner Mar 14 '12 at 1:27
2  
Hmmm 24 minutes seems like a very long time to bake chocolate chip cookies. I like my cookies soft and chewy and I bake that for about 10 minutes. Nevertheless 24 minutes sounds like it would produce charcoal disks. Perhaps look into a recipe with much shorter bake time. that'll save you 14min X 5 = 70 minutes at least. –  Jay Mar 14 '12 at 2:00
    
I do #2 and #3 basically at the same time. As for the 24 minute bake time: I'm using an air insulated pan, and when it was just one pan in the oven at the center rack the bake time was ~ 18 minutes, so I never thought too much about 24 being outrageous... And for the measurements, I'm selling these cookies, so I figure it's only fair if the weights are somewhat uniform. –  StevieP Mar 14 '12 at 3:51

3 Answers 3

up vote 5 down vote accepted

Preheat while doing other things. That's not a step that should take any effective time.

Don't measure so obsessively. Unless these need to be immaculate cookies, just accept a little variety. Scoop roughly with a spoon, or just your hands, and form into balls with your hands if necessary. If you desperately want precision, you could use a cookie dough scoop. But 56±3g sounds kind of over the top to me. Given that you said this is the main time sink, I'd suggest loosening up a bit.

Are you filling your cookie sheets fully? Do they fill your oven? Following a recipe's instructions to the letter, baking only 9 per sheet, is obviously the wrong thing to do if your cookies or baking sheets aren't the same sizes as those in the recipe. Note also that if you have many cookies per sheet, you can often fit more by tiling in triangles instead of squares.

And finally, reconsider your recipe. I'm sure this one is great, but keep in mind that most standard chocolate chip cookie recipes bake at 350F or 375F, and times more in the 8-12 minute range. If your recipe gives you exactly the cookies you want, and others don't, then stick with it, but if you're unnecessarily sticking to a recipe, try something else.

Edit: one more thought! Chilling the dough is probably important to your recipe, but you could measure/scoop while it's warmer and easier to work with, then chill in balls, and do the final forming once chilled.

And another, having seen your comment: given that you increased the baking time upon filling up the oven more, and are using insulated pans, you might actually want to increase the temperature to 350-375F and see if you can get back down to the 15-18 minute baking time. They may end up closer to the originally-intended consistency!

share|improve this answer
    
Can you post a link for the triangle tiling? I don't think I follow. Also, if you have any "thick and chewy" recipes that call for 350 or 375F, I'm game to try them out. Links? –  StevieP Mar 14 '12 at 14:05
    
The idea of the triangle tiling, if I'm reading the answer correctly, is that instead of your basic unit being four cookies in a square two inches apart from each other, do two cookies two inches apart and then a third making the point of a triangle two inches from either corner. Then tile that across your sheet. You end up with rows where every other row is shifted over slightly and shorter. –  Yamikuronue Mar 14 '12 at 15:59
    
@StevieP: ack, I had a link to an image there before... not sure how I managed to remove it. And... this isn't a recipe request site. You could try asking in chat for recipes if you like. –  Jefromi Mar 14 '12 at 16:25
    
An alternate version of the explanation: put them at the vertices in a triangular grid, not a square one. This is also called hexagonal packing; it fills more of the space - pi/sqrt(12) =~ 90% instead of pi/4 =~ 79%. (Of course, this only matters if you have enough cookies per sheet.) –  Jefromi Mar 14 '12 at 16:31
    
+1 for using a scoop (aka disher, ice cream scoop) to dish the cookies. This is both accurate and fast. –  KatieK Mar 14 '12 at 16:34

To speed up measuring, use a long plastic tray or a half pipe to make a cutting mould.
Measure your dough and work out the required distance between cuts, sort of like a builders mitre box.

Cutting Guide

Stuff the tray with dough and slice through pre-measured cuts. Dump the cut portions onto a tray and chill.

share|improve this answer
    
I can't say if this is the best answer without trying it, but it's certainly a good sounding answer. I'm not sure how serious you are, but I will absolutely consider trying this. –  StevieP Mar 14 '12 at 14:04
    
This is only for accurate measuring. If a scoop will do don't bother with it –  TFD Mar 15 '12 at 20:39

I'm not sure if this is the proper etiquette, but I'd like to compile the results of my experiments. Using inspiration from TFD and Jefromi:

I found that making the dough, and (while the dough was still "warm") using a tea-cup as my impromptu measuring device sped up the whole "56 +/- 3 g" affair. I decided to loosen up my tolerance and measure for large balls that fell within 109 and 114 grams. After I made all the balls, I put them on a wax paper lined tray and let them chill (over-night) in the fridge.

Note: I chose to double the portion, so that when I went to recreate that "jagged" texture as per the instructions in the recipe, I needed only split one large ball in half and then throw both halves on the tray.

When baking time rolled around, I used the triangle tiling suggested by Jefromi to finangle 10 cookies per sheet (whereas before I only got 9). I also experimented with baking at 325F, 350F, and 375F and found that for 14:00 - 16:00 at 375F I got cookies that were sometimes a bit over-done on the edges. If I baked the cookies for 17:00 - 19:00 at 350F I didn't experience that edge problem. I'm sure the edge problem could be remedied by pulling out the bottom tray a bit earlier than the top...

share|improve this answer

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.