Time for another recipe testing post! I launched this recipe testing series in 2018 because I know many of you are equally passionate about learning the hows and whys of baking.
My latest recipe testing adventures include cookies. I tested a new cookie recipe earlier this month and while batch #1 was a complete fail and tasted horrendous, I knew you’d be fascinated with the results. See the photo above? The cookie on the left came from batch #2. Still a little room for improvement in terms of flavor, but far better than batch #1, pictured on the right. That blob of a cookie not only over-spread, it was greasy, delicate, and too crispy. Here’s what I fixed:
- Less butter. Butter is obviously a cookie favorite, but it’s easy to go overboard. Too much butter means over-spreading, over-crispy, and over-greasy. There’s not enough dry ingredients to soak it all up.
- More flour. To soak up the fat and provide structure to the cookie. There was a little too much flour in batch #2 and the cookies tasted a little cakey. But batch #3, pictured below, was perfection.
- Longer chill time. I chilled batch #1 for only 30 minutes and batches #2 and #3 for 1 hour. What a difference!
Cookie recipe will be published on Friday. 🙂
And because it’s always nice to have a refresher, here are some of my cookie baking tips.
How to Prevent Cookies from Spreading
- Chill cookie dough. Not all cookie dough requires the chilling step– and I normally determine that by how the cookie dough looks and feels. If the cookie dough is particularly sticky, wet, or greasy– chilling it is a good idea. The colder the dough, the less the cookies are likely to over-spread into greasy puddles. You’ll have thicker, sturdier, and more solid cookies. After chilling, let your cookie dough sit at room temperature for about 10 minutes (or longer, depending on how long the dough has chilled) before rolling into balls and baking. Your cookie dough may be a solid rock, so letting it slightly loosen up helps. The dough will still be much more solid than it was pre-chilling.
- Chill cookie dough balls. Sometimes after I roll cookie dough into balls to bake them, I place the balls on a paper plate and put the entire plate in the refrigerator or freezer. Then I preheat the oven. This firms up the balls which may have gotten a little soft while handling with our warm hands. The extra 10 minutes really helps.
- Use a silicone baking mat or parchment paper. Coating your baking sheet with nonstick spray or butter creates an overly greasy foundation, causing the cookies to spread. I always recommend a silicone baking mat because they grip onto the bottom of your cookie dough, preventing the cookies from spreading too much. These mats also promote even browning. They can get greasy, but I wrote an entire blog post about cleaning silicone baking mats!
- Never place cookie dough balls onto a hot baking sheet. Always room temperature baking sheets.
- Butter may have been too warm. If a recipe calls for softened room temperature butter, make sure it’s still cool to touch. Here is correct room temperature butter.
- Under-measuring the flour. Less flour means less to absorb all the wet ingredients in your cookie dough. Spoon and level that flour or, better yet, weigh your flour.
- Don’t overmix the cookie dough ingredients. Cream the butter and sugar for only as long as you need to. Don’t begin beating then leave the room with the mixer running. I’m guilty of this too! But whipping too much air into the dough will cause those cookies to collapse during bake-time. I guarantee that.
- Have you ever heard of Smith Island Cake? It’s the official dessert of Maryland!
- Favorite flatbread or pizza toppings? Looking for flatbread recipe inspiration 🙂