Don’t have dessert plans for your next dinner party? Cookie dough has your back.
When I have people over for dinner, I almost never make dessert. As the meal winds down, I plop a few bottles of scotch or fernet in the middle of the table, pull out a large ziplock bag of homemade cookie dough balls from the freezer, and toss a dozen or so onto a baking sheet and straight into the oven. No clean plates, no cake forks, no ferrying individual servings of pie to and from the kitchen counter. Just a plate of warm cookies and a nightcap.
It’s concise, uncomplicated, and nobody is ever disappointed. Nobody misses passed paper plates that are soggy with melting ice cream. Nobody was hoping for a soufflé or a feat of pavlova-making prowess. Most importantly, I don’t have to worry about dessert while I’m picking up last-minute groceries or setting the table or dressing the salad, because dessert is always waiting in the freezer, like money in the bank.
I picked up the habit of keeping cookie dough in the freezer in college as a pre-midterm coping technique (sort of like the college version of an industrious farmer harvesting end-of-season produce and preserving it for the winter). I would channel my academic anxiety into compulsive Sunday night cookie making and freeze the balls of dough on baking sheets before popping them into a ziplock bag that would last me several weeks of late-night stress-eating.
Now I keep the freezer stocked with dough for dinner parties, neighbors who stop by, and friends who come over in the afternoon to play Mario Kart and wind up staying for six hours. Sometimes, at the end of a long day, in an act of flagrant energy inefficiency, I fire up the oven and just bake myself a single cookie.
Freezing the dough offers more than just convenience—it stabilizes the butter so that the cookies hold their shape as they bake, without melting and flattening out across the baking sheet. You can put the frozen dough straight into the oven without any thawing, and it will only add about 5 minutes or so to the baking time. This works for pretty much any iteration of a chocolate chip cookie—whether it has oatmeal, peanut butter, tahini, nuts, or other crunchy things. If you have some flaky salt, or if someone gave you a bottle of vanilla salt six years ago that you have never once used, sprinkle a little onto the cookies before they go in the oven, or try this recipe from Joy the Baker, which calls for a light shower of smoked sea salt before baking.