It is safe to say that no cookie maker has matched what Wally Amos, the American founder of Famous Amos, has created. From the company’s beginnings in 1975, the brand’s signature cookies and its omnipotent aromas have turned it into a global operation. The smell of freshly baked cookies wafting through the air is unmistakable, and many customers have stopped by the cookie stand just to get a bag before going on their way.
But the recipe for Famous Amos cookies is a closely-guarded secret. Many have tried to replicate the cookie, with reasonable success. One lady from Malaysia named Baizura Muhammed seems to have cracked the cookie code with her recipe – posted on Facebook six months ago, it went nuts (pun intended) throughout Malaysia and Singapore for being the closest to the real thing yet.
Love Wholesome has some theories as to why Madam Baizura could end up giving Famous Amos a run for its money if she plans to make a business out of it.
1. The cookie dough is made by hand
You may be better off making cookie dough by hand if you are new to baking cookies. While using a stand mixer will produce faster results, it is easy to over-mix if you are not careful. Over-mixed batter or dough, whether it is cake, biscuits, cookies or even bread, will break down the gluten structures in the flour. So your baked goodies will not rise or will even spread sideways, and your cookie will end up hard, dense, with not much crunch.
The cookie dough comes together rather quickly, so you don’t need to go through the trouble of setting up a stand mixer for a process that takes about 10 minutes.
2. Butter at room temperature (or slightly colder)
Melted butter will produce a runny dough that is hard to work with. Do not melt the butter into a liquid with the microwave. Instead, take the butter out of the refrigerator and leave it to stand for about 20 minutes before using it. The butter must be softened with the insides still cold, or leave it slightly longer till it is soft throughout.
3. Refrigerating the cookie dough before shaping and baking
Chilling the cookie dough for 30 minutes before baking will solidify it and make it easy to shape. It will also retain its dome-like shape better in the oven, preventing it from spreading into a disc.
When you are ready to bake, use a teaspoon to scoop the dough and shape it with your hands into a ball. Arrange the cookie dough balls 3 inches apart in rows, on a baking sheet lined with cooking paper.
4. Using high-quality ingredients at the right measurements
Vanilla extract is simply not sufficient if you are trying to replicate the Famous Amos cookie – Wally Amos said so himself, that his original cookie was made with vanilla essence, and not the inferior vanilla extract. It is rather challenging to get your hands on high-quality vanilla essence, and not to mention, very expensive. So try to get the best ingredients you can afford.
Brown sugar gives the cookies a lovely light brown tint. It also adds a complex and earthy sweetness to the cookie. White sugar, while more commonplace in supermarkets and more versatile to use, will give the cookie a pale complexion and a sharp sweetness.
Use exact measurements as baking is more like working out a mathematical formula. Play it safe to get consistent results, especially if you are new to baking.
Even something as trivial as too much baking soda will produce airy and coarse cookies that are not chewy enough, so stick to the right measurements as much as possible.
5. Letting the cookies cool
It is always exciting to see how the results of your first cookie attempt look and taste like. But home bakers and professional chefs insist all the time that you let your creations cool as much as possible before tasting them.
That is because the cookies need to stop cooking from the inside, to allow enough time for the gluten structures to solidify. The chocolate nibs need to cool to retain its slight hardness.
The cookies are also extremely hot to touch, so you may end up not only being disappointed with the taste but with burnt fingers and a seared tongue. Be patient and let the cookies cool for at least a few hours, or overnight, if possible.
Store the cookies in an airtight container so they won’t go soft quickly. This will extend their shelf life as well as their give them the iconic crunchy texture.