Ok, I ve been a baker for YEARS. And a good one, so I m told (LOL). But, clearly I am missing something basic. I make the Tollhouse recipe for chocolate chip cookies and while they taste really good, they are always pretty flat. We all still love them as they are crispy on the edges and chewy in the middle (the way I like them), but I would like them to be a little thicker. When my mom makes them, they come out thicker, the way I would like mine to come out (and interestingly, my mom wishes hers were more flat! ). So, short of going to my mom s house and watching what she does, I m at a loss. They are going onto cold pans. I use a small ice cream scoop. The oven is accurate. I use all fresh ingredients. The butter is a cool room temp, so not too warm. I use a Kitchenaid lift mixer. I m guessing that it has to do with the creaming of the butter and sugar??? beating too long maybe?
I probably put the mixer on med-high for a minute max. I look for the butter and sugar to be well incorporated. Help! (and thanks! )
This is what we discovered in the test kitchen after consulting numerous cookbooks and baking experts, and then testing 14 versions--and a few of our own--in an effort to find a thick, chewy cookie. The cookies were tasted and rated by the Good Eating staff and other Tribune employees who couldn't resist the incredible aroma coming from the kitchen. Using butter versus shortening makes a big difference. Cookies we made with butter tasted great but were flatter than those made with butter-flavored vegetable shortening. The reason for this rests with how each fat melts.
Butter melts over a small temperature range, so as soon as you put the cookies in a hot oven, the butter melts quickly--and the cookies spread. Vegetable shortening, on the other hand, retains its texture over a wide temperature range. So cookies made with shortening will spread much less because the fat won't melt as quickly. The problem is that shortening won't provide the rich flavor and crumbly texture that butter does. Cookies made with a combination of the shortening and butter still didn't taste as good as those made with all butter, though they were thicker and, in some cases, nicer looking. The proportion of liquid in a cookie dough also affects how much they will spread--the wetter the dough, the more it spreads. To help the cookies hold their shape, we tried adding more flour and ground rolled oats to make the dough denser and drier.
But the cookies wound up too dry, neither rich nor chewy. Also, the cookies with oats tasted too much like oatmeal-chocolate chip cookies. After all our effort, we finally found a cookie recipe from the January/February 1996 issue of "Cook's Illustrated" magazine that has great flavor and a good, thick texture. Second place went to the popular Toll House recipe found on the bag of Nestle's Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips. (The cookies were flat, but everybody loved the flavor. ) Both recipes use all butter, but the "Cook's Illustrated" recipe calls for melting the butter, not creaming it. More significant, though, was its particular balance of flour, sugar and egg. We also tried making the "Cooks Illustrated" recipe by creaming the butter instead of melting it.
The result was still a nice, puffy cookie, but the chocolate chips sank into the cookie. Using melted butter helps coat the chips and makes them "float" on the top for a prettier cookie. Again, it was amazing to see how a little change could produce a different cookie. Incidentally, we gave the Toll House cookie recipe a second chance by refrigerating the dough before baking to see whether the cookies would spread less. (A technique recommended by many baking experts. ) It didn't help. What was helpful in limiting the spread in all of the recipes was baking cookies on parchment paper or a reusable, rubberized silicone baking mat ($24 at Crate&Barrel stores and Martha By Mail at 800-950-7130). Greased baking sheets encourage cookies to spread.
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