Cookies are great. They are my favorite baked treat by far. That doesn't mean there's no way to improve on them. Like what I did - making them bigger. Pizza big. There are a lot of reasons a larger cookie might be a better solution for you:
1. Making 100 little chunks of dough is the sort of thing a robot should do.
2. A giant cookie is a great way to intimidate the competition at a cutthroat bake sale.
3. You're from Texas.
4. The extended baking time is just long enough to call your friends to come over for a 'cookies and cocktails' night.
5. It's been a long day. Why pretend, I was going to eat the whole batch anyway.
This will work with almost any cookie recipe*, so grab your favorite** and get in the kitchen.
*This may not be true if you're into replacing traditional ingredients with things that are less traditional like fake sugar.
**Don't have a favorite cookie recipe? I included my favorite quick sugar cookies!
Step 1: Make Your Cookie Dough
Any cookie dough should work for this. That said, if you're using splenda instead of sugar and applesauce instead of butter or trying to make them vegan your results may be disappointing. The biggest risk is that you'll make something that spreads too much and falls off the edge of your pan.
I'm assuming you're using a fairly ordinary oven with a fairly ordinary baking sheet that you could otherwise be using to bake a fairly ordinary frozen pizza. And that's the size you'll probably end up with - frozen pizza. Larger if you have a big oven and pans to match.
Your total of sugar and flour needs to be no more than 4 cups to make one large cookie. Count oatmeal as flour if you're making an oatmeal cookie. If your recipe is larger than this and you'd rather not decrease it just split it into two cookies. Come on, it's still better than making dozens.
You might be watching your health and consider skipping the salt in your recipe. Don't. The salt reacts with the flour to improve the texture of the finished cookie.
Also, feel free to use this pre-tested sugar cookie recipe:
Simple Sugar Cookies
1 cup butter/margarine
1 cup sugar
1 tbsp vanilla
2 1/4 cups flour
1 tsp baking soda
1 pinch salt
Mix together the ingredients in the order shown. Bake at 375 degrees for 10-12 for normal cookies, or around 30 minutes for a giant cookie.
If you're leaving the cookie plain give it a good sprinkle of sugar before baking. It's also well suited to mix-ins like chocolate chips, m&ms or nuts, or it's delicious frosted.
Step 2: Form the Cookie
For best results line your baking sheet with parchment paper. This will ensure that the cookie doesn't stick to the pan (preventing beat up edges trying to pry it loose) and give the underside a nice toasty finish.
Smoosh your dough into a circle. It needs to be no more than 75% of the pan width (that extra 25% is important as the cookie will expand.) Don't worry about a smooth finish, but do try to keep the thickness the same across the whole cookie. If you're using my dough recipe it might help to wet your spatula or hand for easier spreading.
Step 3: Bake the Cookie
Bake the cookie at the temperature your recipe calls for. You'll have to bake it longer than you would for little pieces. Luckily, science will help you bake it to perfection.
When you put the cookie in the oven it will start to look smooth. It may expand horizontally from the melting of the butter/margarine.
This will go on for a while, then the cookie will start to look dry around the edges. It will be getting thicker as the moisture expands from heat and the leavening agent reacts to the other ingredients.
As the edges bake further they will start to look thinner. The cookie will be domed at the center, and the dome will drop as the cookie continues to bake.
A finished cookie looks lightly browned around the edges, has a dry surface, and has started collapsing almost all the way to the center. My perfect finish is generally when the center 25% or so hasn't started to collapse, you might prefer a more or less well done cookie. If you're making your cookie in a rectangular pan this puffing and collapsing effect will probably be even more prominent.
If you're concerned about whether the cookie is done feel free to do the toothpick in the center comes out clean check.
In my experience, almost all oversized cookies take about 30 minutes to bake. Take note of how long your cookie takes and add it to the recipe card, this probably isn't the last time you'll do this.
Step 4: Finish It Up!
Finish it however you like. Leave it plain or dress it up with frosting. I live in a house divided between chocolate and vanilla frosting so we did both. This kind of cookie also makes a great canvas for fancy piped frosting, if you have the patience to do that. Or consider a less formal presentation where you let it cool enough that it won't burn you before cutting into it...