If you’ve ever wondered why chocolate chips, fruits, nuts, and other add-ins sink in baked goods, I’m here to help with the reasons that can happen and how to keep chocolate chips from sinking!
One of the most frequent questions I’m asked is how to keep chocolate chips from sinking in cakes, quick breads, and other baked goods. I’m here with good news and some not so good news for how to combat that.
This also applies to other add-ins such as nuts, berries, and more. For simplicity’s sake, let’s focus on chocolate chips. But keep in mind that these tips apply to other add-ins, too.
Why Chocolate Chips Sink
First, let’s talk about why those chocolate chips sink. It really comes down to one simple reason.
It’s really that simple. Chocolate chips sink when they are too heavy to stay suspended in the batter.
The consistency of a batter is most often just part of the characteristics of the recipe you’re making, and there’s no way around that. A thin batter just won’t hold up chocolate chips. Thicker batters like coffee cakes, pound cakes, and most quick breads will do a much better job of playing nice with chocolate chips. You can try to thicken a batter by adding more flour, but I wouldn’t recommend doing that unless you’re up for doing some baking experimentation and changing the texture of the final result.
However, it is good to keep in mind that there are some reasons your batter might be thinner than it should be. If it’s over-mixed, that extra agitation can make a batter too thin. Or if the batter gets too warm, like in a hot kitchen, then it can also be thinner than normal. Make sure to mix just until combined (unless otherwise directed by the recipe) and to keep your kitchen as cool as you can.
And a common culprit for most any baking problem… inaccurate measurements. That can certainly lead to variances in batters, making them thinner or thicker than they should be. Whenever I can, I like to measure ingredients by weight to be as accurate as possible. (I’m adding weight measurements to all new recipes I share and also working on updating recipes from the archives.) Otherwise, the spoon and sweep method is a good choice. You can read more in How to Measure Flour.
How to Keep Chocolate Chips from Sinking
So, how do we fight this and get a nice distribution of chocolate chips in our baked goods? Well, we’ve got a couple of options.
Tossing the chocolate chips in some of the flour (or cocoa powder) from the recipe will help some, but only if you’re trying to overcome a little bit of sinking. Don’t expect a dramatic difference with this method.
Another choice is to change the heft of the chocolate chips. It stands to reason that if they don’t weigh as much, then they aren’t as likely to sink. You can do this by using mini chocolate chips or even chopped chocolate so that the chocolate is lighter and won’t sink. This is a great solution and my usual choice when I need to combat sinking.
I also sometimes sprinkle some reserved chocolate chips on top of whatever I’m baking before it goes into the oven. These chips aren’t mixed into the batter, so starting out on top of the batter means they won’t sink as far once it starts baking. A somewhat similar option is to spread about half of the batter in the pan, top with the chocolate chips, and then cover with the remaining batter. I’m not a huge fan of that method because of varying results, but it’s one to keep in mind as an option.
I hope this has helped you understand why chocolate chips and other add-ins sometimes sink in baked goods. While there’s no cure-all fix for it, being able to anticipate it and try to combat it is great knowledge. You may still have some sinking in the final result, but don’t let it worry you. As long as it’s delicious, no one will really care! Do you have a tip for keeping chocolate chips from sinking?
For lots of recipes with chocolate chips, be sure to visit the Recipe Index.
Top photo: Chocolate Chip Cream Cheese Pound Cake