A delectable cookie is really the sum of its delectable parts. So pay close attention to the ingredients you funnel into your mixing bowl. For example, Mr. Amos insists on butter, not margarine, for quality cookies, and vanilla extract rather an artificial vanilla. In fact, he asserts that vanilla is the cookie's key ingredient -- its soul -- and he prefers that his cookies have the soul of Watkins brand Madagascar Pure Bourbon Vanilla Extract.
Once you've selected the ingredient greats, make them really sing. For example, if you want nuts in your cookies, add them to the batter last -- they'll wind up crunchier. And, if you're chopping up the nuts in a food processor beforehand, toss in a little flour and sugar from the recipe to absorb the nuts' oil. That way they won't clump together [source: Crisco.com].
If you insist on using margarine rather than butter, just make sure it contains enough fat. Check the label on the box to see that it's at least 80 percent vegetable oil or 100 calories per tablespoon. Margarine that's not fat-heavy is water-heavy, which makes for soggy dough that will expand on your cookie sheet into one large amoeba cookie [source: Better Homes and Gardens]. For extra chewy cookies, don't just use softened butter -- use melted butter. Then throw in a couple of egg yolks to increase the fat content and ensure cookie tenderness [source: America's Test Kitchen].