I love your blog and thought you may be able to provide some insight into why my chocolate chip cookies always LOOK HORRIBLE! They taste good…but I can never get a nice little fluffy cookie that doesn’t crumble apart.
I follow the recipe on the Nestle Toll House chocolate chip bag exactly, and yet my cookies always spread out and wind up flat and crispy.
I’m a good cook so I don’t know why I’m having such a problem with chocolate chip cookies!
A. Stephanie, you are my baking spirit sister, because that totally happens to me too, and, like you, I am completely weirded out by it. I’ve been meaning to mention my chocolate chip cookie mishaps here for awhile now, but have just been too mortified at my inability to make the damn things turn out right. I mean, we’re talking chocolate chip cookies, not, like, a house of buttercream meringues.
Or yogurt cake.
So granted, I’m a pretty disastrous baker (as you can see in the above video, the whole “precision” thing is not my forte; I like making those loaf cakes because they’re a lot more improvisational than…say…this)…but still: one would think chocolate chip cookies made using what is theoretically the easiest recipe ever would be Jordan-proof.
But here’s the real mystery: when I make the recipe off the back of the bag in any oven other than my own, they come out great. It’s only from my oven (a prehistoric, rickety thing) that they emerge flat, and somehow simultaneously chewy and crispy, and terrible terrible terrible.
Which is all to say: I don’t know the answer to your question. But I sent it over to guru-of-all-things-dessert Alejandra to get her take on your troubles.
“OK, my instinct here tells me it’s an issue with either the butter or the temperature of the dough, but I’ll go over a few other factors that could be affecting the cookies. Basically, the warmer your dough, the flatter/crispier the result is going to be. The Nestle recipe is kind of notorious for producing flat cookies, which some people like, but which may not be your taste.
The temperature of the dough could also be affecting the results. The Nestle recipe doesn’t indicate this (I don’t know why, because it should), but you should always chill your dough before scooping it. For best results, pop the dough in the fridge overnight or at least for an hour or two, to firm it up. Also, be sure to pop any extra dough back in the fridge between batches.
Some other things to look out for:
Use unsalted butter–salted butter has more water in it, which causes spreading
Preheat your oven for at least 20 minutes before baking
Get a good quality light-colored cookie sheet (dark pans get hotter)
Never grease your pan, but be sure to line it with parchment paper or a Silpat to prevent sticking and provide further protection
Let your pans cool to room temperature or lower between batches
Use a cookie scoop for even sized cookies
Underbake your cookies a minute or two less than the recipe calls for. It will make for a much chewier cookie.
Don’t open & close the oven during baking as it lets the heat escape and will cause for uneven baking
And (most important) check the temperature of your oven! Ovens are such liars. Get an external oven thermometer (they’re about $10-$20 and SO worth it) and test that when your oven claims it’s at 350 or 375 degrees, it really is.”
Well, that was unbelievably helpful. My crappy oven reads imprecisely, plus I have a tendency to a) try to cream the butter straight from the refrigerator, or b) leave it out on the counter, feel very proud of myself for remembering to allow it to soften up, and then promptly forget about it until it has become a squishy mess, at which point I begin the baking process.
I have a feeling that me and baking will never be best friends, but still: baby steps.
Thank you, Alejandra!