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I made chewy chocolate chip cookies. The recipe gave baking time suggestions, but noted

check your cookies before they’re done; depending on your scoop size, your baking time will vary

and suggested to bake them "until the edges are lightly toasted". However, I used dark brown sugar, so my dough was much darker than in the pictures, it was an ochre shade. I didn't notice any changes in color, and I don't think I could in the dark dough, but my second sheet got rather hard after cooling, I suspect I overbaked them.

How can I notice the right moment to take cookies out of the oven?

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up vote 2 down vote accepted

Most cookie recipes (including the Nestle Tollhouse recipe) call for 9 - 11 minutes at 375 ° F (for a 3-bite sized cookie). Within this range, finding the exact time (and temperature) for your preferred done-ness and with your equipment can be a fussy business.

One of the best indicators is the darkening color at the outer edge of the cookie, as shown in the last picture in your recipe. (For what it's worth, substituting dark brown sugar for brown sugar may make a significant difference in the outcome of the cookie.)

You can also gently poke the edge of a cookie to test it. (Only do this if your fingers are used to enough kitchen abuse to be OK with poking hot cookies and gooey melty chocolate.) The edge of the cookie should be a little crispy and have a texture when done. When un-done, it will be liquid and gooey, like the middle of the cookie.

If no other methods prove useful, I fall back to the "test cookie" method, where I bake one cookie at at time at different intervals of time (30 seconds), wait until they cool, and then re-use the time from the best resulting cookie. (Same for dialing the best temperature.) Go with a slightly overdone cookie for a tie breaker; when baking your batches of cookies, the extra mass will take a little longer to bake to the same done-ness. Yes, this is a tedious and fussy procedure, but once you've got this figured out, you can replicate it ever time. And, as with all baking, practice makes perfect.

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You say that finding the exact temperature is fussy. Can you tell me the correct temperature for the inside of a done cookie? I am willing to stick a roast thermometer into one of them, to control for doneness. Or did you mean the best oven temperature setting? –  rumtscho Mar 19 '12 at 1:24
    
I meant oven temperature. I know of no standard correct inside cookie temperature. I think that this is largely because it'd be really difficult to find the middle of a small cookie. Also because anywhere between the range of "burnt" (black and tasting of charcoal) and "underdone" (it's still batter on the inside) is a matter of baker's choice. –  KatieK Mar 19 '12 at 17:26
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