How To Make Perfect Cookies:
Fixing Common Complaints

How to make perfect cookies is as much a matter of preference and taste, as it is using quality ingredients and proven cookie making and baking techniques!

Baking cookies at home can be fun and rewarding, especially when your cookies turn out just the way you like them, or frustrating when your results are less than desirable.

Because cookies contain so few ingredients and are low in liquid, even slight variations can significantly change the character of your cookies.

A little cookie chemistry know how can go a long way toward perfecting your cookie making skills.

Here are some common cookie fixes for how to make perfect cookies.

How To Fix What Ails Your Homemade Cookies

Here are some adjustments you can make to your cookie dough to get the kind of cookies you desire. Any of the following suggestions will change the texture of your cookie dough and resulting cookies. Usually just one change is enough!

Friends Making Perfect Cookies

Friends Making Perfect Cookies

For Thinner, Less Puffy Cookies:

  • Increase the amount of fat.
  • Use all butter. It has a lower melting point and spreads more than shortening.
  • Add 1 to 2 tablespoons of liquid (water, milk, or cream but not egg).
  • Use a low protein flour such as bleached all-purpose flour.
  • Decrease the amount of flour.
  • Add 1 to 2 tablespoons sugar.
  • Switch from baking powder to baking soda.
  • Use semi or bittersweet chocolate instead of unsweetened chocolate.
  • Use Dutch process cocoa powder instead of regular unsweetened cocoa powder.
  • Use room-temperature ingredients or let dough stand at room temperature.

For Thicker, Fatter, Puffier Cookies:

  • Decrease the amount of fat.
  • Use shortening instead of butter. It has a higher melting point so cookies don't spread as much as with butter.
  • Use egg instead of water, milk, or cream for liquid.
  • Use cake flour or high protein unbleached all-purpose flour.
  • Increase the amount of flour.
  • Cut the sugar by a few tablespoons.
  • Use unsweetened chocolate instead of semi- or bittersweet chocolate.
  • Use regular cocoa powder instead of Dutch process cocoa powder.
  • Chill cookie dough thoroughly before baking with it.
  • Let dough sit in the refrigerator for up to 36 hours before baking it.

For More Tender Cookies:

  • Use low protein flour (bleached all-purpose or cake flour).
  • Add a few tablespoons of sugar.
  • Add a few tablespoons of fat.

For Less Crumbly, More Tender Cookies:

  • Use higher protein flour (unbleached all-purpose or bread flour).
  • Cut the sugar by a few tablespoons.
  • Cut fat by a few tablespoons.

For Cookies With More Color:

  • Use an egg for liquid.
  • Use unbleached all-purpose or bread flour.
  • Substitute 1 to 2 tablespoons of light corn syrup for sugar.

For Paler Cookies:

  • Use water for liquid.
  • Use cake flour or bleached all-purpose flour.

Why are my cookies so dry?

Some common reasons why cookies turn out too dry are that you may not have measured your ingredients properly, the eggs were too small, or you left the cookies in the oven too long and they overbaked.

Why do my cookies break, or crumble, when I remove them from my cookie sheet?

Either you didn't grease the cookie sheet (be sure to double-check the recipe instructions) or you let your cookies sit on the hot cookie sheet for too long after taking them out of the oven.

Why are my cookies sticking to my cookie sheet?

Again, check your recipe to see if you should be baking with a greased cookie sheet. If not, then it may be the ingredients. As soon as you take your cookies out of the oven, use your spatula and transfer them to a wire rack so that can cool and won't have a chance to stick.

Why do my cookies spread out so much on the cookie sheet?

Most likely you didn't measure your ingredients according to the recipe. If you used too much butter, shortening or liquid or not enough flour, there is a good chance your cookies will spread out too much.

Why are my cookies running together?

Again, make sure you carefully measure your ingredients according to the recipe. Also, the size of your cookies shouldn't be too large, but the size called for in the recipe. Most recipes recommend placing your cookie dough far enough apart on the cookie sheet (about 2 inches between them) to give them enough space to spread out while baking. If your dough is too thin, they will spread even more - so measure all ingredients carefully.

>Why do my cookies bake unevenly?

  • Use a heavy-duty cookie sheet
  • Make sure all cookies are the same size when scooping and placing on your cookie sheet
  • You should be baking on the middle rack with the cookie sheet in the center of your oven
  • The cookie sheet should not be touching the sides of your oven
  • All ovens are different and there is usually more heat in the back, so you may need to turn your cookiesheet halfway through when baking

Why are my cookies over done?

  • Check your oven to make sure it is set at the correct temperature
  • Check you cookies a couple of minutes before you think they'll be done
  • Make sure you are making your cookies the recommended size and they are spaced correctly on the cookie sheet

Why do my cookies burn only on the bottom?

  • You are placing your cookies on the lower rack in your oven instead of in the center of middle rack
  • Use a light-colored cookie sheet. Dark-colored cookie sheets absorb more heat that could cause the bottoms of your cookies to overcook

Source: BakeWise: The Hows and Whys of Successful Baking with Over 200 Magnificent Recipes by Shirley Corriher.

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