The secret to perfectly golden chocolate chip cookies

Dec 24, 2014 at 2:05 a.m. ET

When December arrives, we expect, and receive, countless cookie-baking questions on In the Kitchen with David. Without fail, the same questions are asked every single year.

Discover why cookies sometimes get flat, how to best freeze cookie dough, and the secret to getting that beautiful golden brown cookie. Then, try out some of my newest cookie recipes before Santa calls dibs.

Why are my cookies flat?

It could be one of three things. First, if your baking powder or soda isn't new, your cookies won't rise properly. Also, make sure you haven't over-greased your baking sheet(s). Lastly, make sure the baking sheet(s) aren't too warm when you're adding new dough. If they're too warm, they'll start baking before they ever reach the oven.

Can you freeze cookie dough?

Yes, heavy dough, like chocolate chip, shortbread, gingerbread or sugar, freezes beautifully. Avoid freezing light-textured dough or those with an egg white base, like meringue cookies. Just be sure to tightly wrap the dough to protect it from freezer burn and prevent it from absorbing freezer odors. The general rule of thumb is to bake the dough within six months.

How do you get the perfect golden brown?

Rotate the cookie sheets 180 degrees halfway through the baking time. Also, because darker pans absorb heat faster (and the heat transfers to the cookies faster) gingersnaps, macaroons and dark cookies work best on darker baking sheets. Light colored pans are best for chocolate chip, oatmeal or shortbreads.

Vanilla Kifli cookies recipe

Serves 20

These sweet, buttery cookies are a common Christmas treat in Hungary. For a festive and homemade gift, place a few of these cookies into a small plastic favor bag, tie them up with ribbon and maybe include a note about their origin.


Sugar coating:

  • 1/4 cup confectioners' sugar
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • Seeds scraped from 1/2 vanilla bean


  • 1 cup, plus 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
  • 2 ounces blanched almonds
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • Seeds scraped from 1/2 vanilla bean
  • 1/3 cup, plus 1 tablespoon confectioners' sugar
  • 1 large egg yolk


  1. To prepare the sugar coating, place both sugars and the vanilla bean seeds into the bowl of a food processor and pulse until the seeds are distributed throughout the sugar. Pour the mixture into a small bowl and set aside.
  2. To prepare the cookies, place the flour, almonds and salt in the same food processor bowl. Pulse until the almonds are finely chopped, then set the mixture aside.
  3. Mix the butter, vanilla bean seeds and sugar in a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment until fully combined. Add the egg yolk to the bowl and mix until creamy. Add the flour-almond mixture and continue mixing until fully incorporated.
  4. Form a disc with the dough, wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 90 minutes.
  5. Place a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper.
  6. Remove the dough from the fridge, and with your hands, roll the dough into 1/2 x 3-inch logs, making sure that the ends of the logs are slightly tapered, then curve the dough slightly to form a crescent shape. Place the crescents onto the prepared cookie sheet, about 1 inch apart.
  7. Bake the cookies for 7 minutes, then rotate the pan and bake for another 7 minutes, or until light golden brown.
  8. Remove the cookie sheet from the oven and place it onto a wire rack. Let the cookies sit for 3 – 4 minutes, then gently toss each one into the vanilla-sugar mixture until completely coated on all sides. Let the cookies cool before serving.

Peppermint chocolate chip cookies recipe

Serves 24

David's insider tip: Have 30 minutes? You can make cookies. We use a box of vanilla cake mix as the base in this five-ingredient recipe and it works beautifully. To make double chocolate cookies, use chocolate cake mix.


  • 1 (15.25 ounce) box yellow cake mix
  • 1/3 cup vegetable oil
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 teaspoon peppermint extract
  • 1 (9 ounce) bag (1-1/2 cups) dark chocolate morsels with mint filling


  1. Place an oven rack on the second lower level and preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Line 2 cookie sheets with parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. Fit a stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Add the cake mix, oil, eggs and peppermint extract to the mixing bowl and mix until creamy and lump-free.
  3. Remove the bowl from the mixer and stir in the chocolate morsels with a spatula. Spoon 2 tablespoons of dough onto the cookie sheets for each cookie. Bake for 8 – 9 minutes and then rotate the cookie sheet. Cook for another 8 – 9 minutes, or until light golden brown. Cool the cookies on a cooling rack before serving.

Easy gingerbread cookies recipe

Makes 40-42 cookies

David's insider tip: Don't have time to make gingerbread men? Then trade your old recipe, which is sure to yield crisp, brittle cookies, for this one. Soft, chewy, flavorful gingerbread cookies await you.


  • 2-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1-3/4 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar, plus more for rolling the dough in
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • 1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice


  1. Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Sift the flour, baking soda, ginger, cinnamon and cloves into a bowl.
  3. Combine the butter and sugar in the bowl of a standing mixer and beat until creamy and light. Add the egg, molasses and lemon juice. Mix to combine. Add the flour mixture and mix on low speed until a soft dough forms. Be careful not to over-mix.
  4. Shape the dough into 1-inch balls. Roll the balls in sugar and place them 2 inches apart on the prepared baking sheets. Bake for 18 – 20 minutes, until the cookies are just firm to the touch. Transfer the cookies to wire racks to cool.

David Venable is the program host of QVC's popular cooking and dining showIn the Kitchen with David. He offers a diverse and unique viewership experience with features such as product information, cooking demonstrations, on-air guests, celebrity appearances and live viewer interaction. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook.