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what makes a cookie crispy or chewy or soft?

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Wendy Lai Oct 2, 2002 04:10 PM

I made a batch of chocolate chip cookies over the weekend. Right out of the oven my husband loved it, the next day when it's cooled, he said it wasn't crispy and too soft for his liking.

I read the big cookie report from chowhound.com but it only gave people's favorit recipes, it didn't tell which recipe makes a crispy cookie or which makes a soft or chewy cookie.

Can anyone tell me what determines the texture? And if you have a recipe for a crispy chocolate chip cookie after it's cooked please do share.

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    Pat Darnell RE: Wendy Lai Oct 2, 2002 04:20 PM

    I make chocolate chip cookies twice a week for kids' lunches. I always have to pack extras because everyone wants some. I get lots of requests for them. They are crispy and on the thin side. Here's the recipe:
    2 sticks margarine
    3/4 cup sugar
    3/4 cup brown sugar (I usually go a couple of tablespoons heavy on both sugars)
    2 eggs
    1 tsp. vanilla extract
    1 tsp. baking soda
    1/2 tsp. salt
    2 cups flour
    1-1/2 cups semi-sweet choc. chips (I don't like them with too many chips, but you might want to add more)

    I cook them at 375 for 12 minutes. When I take them out of the oven, I leave them on the pan for a few minutes until they crisp up a little, then transfer to racks to cool completely.

    They always stay crisp. I store them in a big rubbermaid-type container.

    Enjoy!

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      Wasa B. RE: Wendy Lai Oct 2, 2002 04:24 PM

      nm

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        Linda W. RE: Wendy Lai Oct 2, 2002 04:26 PM

        I think one of the factors is the type of fat - do you use real butter (softer cookie) or margarine (crisper cookie)?

        Looks like Martha wrote about it recently (or more likely, one of her minions did, for which she took credit!). Check out the link below.

        Link: http://www.delawareonline.com/newsjou...

        6 Replies
        1. re: Linda W.
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          Linda W. RE: Linda W. Oct 2, 2002 04:31 PM

          Oops - reverse my statement - butter means flatter/crisper cookie, shortening means softer, puffier cookie.....according to Martha. :-)

          1. re: Linda W.
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            Wendy Lai RE: Linda W. Oct 2, 2002 05:24 PM

            But I did use butter, and it didn't really spread (I used a small ice cream scooper) it stayed a little round dome after baking.

            I will experiment more I guess...

            1. re: Wendy Lai
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              Rochelle RE: Wendy Lai Oct 2, 2002 06:51 PM

              scooping cookies will tend to give you a softer cookie just because of it's shape if nothing else, ingredients disregarded. to produce a thinner, crisper cookie try making a log rolled out in parchment paper, twist the ends, store in a ziplock bag in the fridge and cut off the appropriate amount to bake, thinner cuts mean thinner cookies, therefore crisper. but storing a cookie overnight will always, no matter how you store it create a cookie softer than it was when you took it out of the oven. better to bake small batches that can be eaten in one day if you're a crunch fan.

              1. re: Wendy Lai
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                Stanley Stephan RE: Wendy Lai Oct 2, 2002 10:50 PM

                Ok, I make cookies once a year at Christmas, if I'm in the mood. But I've found that storage matters.

                Plastic wrap or tupperware containers retain moisture and make the cookies soft. I let cookies cool throughly. I make sugar cookies, so after cooling on a rack, I line the cookie sheet with aluminum foil or wax paper, place a single layer of cookies and cover with foil or wax paper. The next day they are nicely set and crispy.

                As these are gifts, I give them in those cellophane bags. Otherwise I keep them in a loosely covered jar that lets some air circulate. No plastic bags if you want crispy.

                If the cookie didn't spread, I'm wondering about the temperature of the oven. Maybe it wasn't hot enough. Perhaps buy an oven thermometer to check the temperature? Maybe they needed to cook longer.

                You can also used a glass to flatten the cookie prior to baking. A flat cookie will be crispy. Any mounding will make the cookie more cake like.

                That's my own limited experience.

                1. re: Wendy Lai
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                  Linda W. RE: Wendy Lai Oct 3, 2002 12:26 PM

                  I agree with Rochelle - I think using the scoop probably kept them more rounded and softer than you'd like. I usually use two Tablespoons to scoop/scrape onto the baking pan. The bottom-of-the-glass method for flattening definitely works for the crisper texture you want. But make sure the dough is slightly chilled, or it'll stick to the bottom of the glass.

              2. re: Linda W.
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                Xochitl10 RE: Linda W. Oct 4, 2002 07:08 PM

                For the fat influence (shortening v. butter v. margarine) discussion, I cannot recommend highly enough the "Tako Chip Cookie" episode at 8legged.com

                It's entertaining, it's educational, it's tweaked. But most of all, it's actual food science presented by an animated talking octopus with stand-mixer issues. ;)

                Cheers,
                Xochitl10

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                MichaelB RE: Wendy Lai Oct 2, 2002 05:21 PM

                To add a little to what Martha's minion said: if it's really humid in your kitchen, it'll be hard to keep even the crispiest cookie crisp unless you seal it in an airtight container. All sugar is hygroscopic (water-attracting) -- brown sugar and honey just come with more moisture built-in. So crispy cookies made even with all white sugar will still attract moisture from the atmosphere and may turn soft after a day or so, depending on your climate. You can increase the flour in the recipe slightly, but too much, especially if it's not balanced with the fat, will tend to make the cookies hard, not necessarily crisp. A year or two ago, Cook's Illustrated had a very good recipe for thin crisp chocolate chip cookies (not to be confused with their earlier recipe for chewy ones), which you might want to try.

                2 Replies
                1. re: MichaelB
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                  Linda W. RE: MichaelB Oct 3, 2002 12:28 PM

                  "To add a little to what Martha's minion said: ..."

                  I *really* hope you're not referring to me as "Martha's minion"...I do NOT worship the woman as so many others do! :::Shudder:::

                  That article was the first I found on crisp vs. chewy cookies. It made sense, so I posted it.

                  1. re: Linda W.
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                    MichaelB RE: Linda W. Oct 3, 2002 05:00 PM

                    My apologies!! I knew as I wrote that that my syntax was unclear -- should have taken the time to rewrite. What I MEANT was that I was expanding on the post YOU wrote which linked to the the article by Martha which you pointed out was probably written by one of her scurrying minions. Unfortunately, by 5 PM the part of my brain that controls writing skills was shot, so it came out a bit garbled. In any case, whether written by The Martha herself or by a minion, I thought it was a pretty helpful article, so thanks for linking to it!

                    yrs. in hopefully greater clarity ;)

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                  Wendy Lai RE: Wendy Lai Oct 2, 2002 05:31 PM

                  I used half brown sugar, half white sugar, butter, regular ap flour and baking soda, not baking powder.

                  My recipe is almost the exact same thing as the other poster's except that mine said I need to dissolve the baking soda in some hot water before mixing into the batter.

                  I also used a small ice cream scooper to put the dough on the sheet. It didn't really spread during baking.

                  I also put the cookies into a air-tight container after it cooled.

                  5 Replies
                  1. re: Wendy Lai
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                    kc girl RE: Wendy Lai Oct 2, 2002 08:12 PM

                    With all the great comments, you may find an appropriate recipe. But, I think that many cookies soften a little the next day. I like them slightly crispy on the outside and softer on the inside. This can only be guaranteed on the day of baking (chocolate chips, anyway) If you make the dough thinner, they may be too crunchy throughout. So, I think the best suggestion is to make the batch as you did, maybe with a little less flour, and then instead of baking the whole lot, wrap a log in parchment paper (or wax paper) as was also suggested and then bake four or five cookies upon command in a small toaster oven (what's ten or fifteen minutes if he will smile for three hours?) If you want to grab and go, then put them in the oven an hour before you want to grab and go (possible?). Even HE can do that. Slice and bake. Easy.

                    And, with the ones you have now, what would happen if you oiled the cookie sheet and popped them back in the oven for a few minutes? Better, yet, try the toaster oven, if you have one. Toast them up a little.

                    At one of my design shows, one of the showrooms had a toaster oven going all day, turning out 12 cookies each batch. They were the hit of the show!

                    1. re: Wendy Lai
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                      C. Fox RE: Wendy Lai Oct 2, 2002 08:48 PM

                      I'm wondering if it might be the ice cream scoop. I've used that same recipe and it always said "Drop by tablespoonfuls..." An ice cream scoop must hold at least 1/4 cup. Maybe the cookies are just too big. And the scoop shape tends to trap moisture in the dough. Try flattening the scoops with the back of a spoon before baking.

                      1. re: C. Fox
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                        saucyknave RE: C. Fox Oct 3, 2002 03:00 AM

                        Ice cream scoops come in a wide variety of sizes if you go to a kitchen specialty shop.

                        1. re: saucyknave
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                          C. Fox RE: saucyknave Oct 3, 2002 10:58 AM

                          Yeh, but if it's tablespoon-sized, I might call it a melon baller instead. ;->

                          1. re: saucyknave
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                            saucyknave RE: saucyknave Oct 3, 2002 11:16 AM

                            Well, call it what you will, :) this wee melon baller has a nice little spring driven strip of metal that pushes the ball out of the scoop, all in one motion. Which reminds me I have to get one!

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                        scott duncan RE: Wendy Lai Oct 2, 2002 07:07 PM

                        In his book "Taste" based on the Food Network series of the same name David Rosengarten discusses the different methods for making both different types of cookies. Basics already covered here include the type of fat and sugar that you use. Also the temperature of the oven plays a part. If I remember correctly lower temperatures allow the fats to melt more and the cookie spreads out and also the moisture has more time to dry out. So in your experimentations there is another factor to consider.

                        If you have a chance I would reccomend going to the source. The "Taste" cookbook has some excellent recipes and information.

                        scott

                        2 Replies
                        1. re: scott duncan
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                          Kenzi RE: scott duncan Oct 2, 2002 07:25 PM

                          Similar to this is an episode of Food TV's show "Good Eats" in which Alton Brown explains the whys and wherefores of getting the desired texture of chocolate chip cookies. I can't remember the specifics but I remember it being very informative. Check out the archives at www.foodtv.com.

                          1. re: Kenzi
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                            Caitlin Wheeler RE: Kenzi Oct 2, 2002 08:22 PM

                            Shirley Corriher's marvelous cookbook Cookwise has this info as well as the answers to a lot of similar cooking questions.

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                          raj1 RE: Wendy Lai Oct 3, 2002 09:48 AM

                          There's also the creaming vs. melting issue when it comes to the butter in your cookies. I'm not sure which method yields which result. Cook's Illustrated and Alice Medrich in her book on Cookies and Browies uses melted butter. I think more traditional recipes use the creaming method where you mix the butter and sugar together in a mixer. You might look into this.

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                            cookiemonster RE: Wendy Lai Oct 4, 2002 07:23 PM

                            All I can tell you is this: once my Grandma, who supplies our entire cookiemonster clan with chocolate chip cookies, left 1/3 of a cup of the flour out of the basic Toll House recipe. We've never gone back to the full amount. The cookies are shatteringly crisp, and stay so for days. It seems to be the fat to flour ratio; fat spreads, and more fat spreads more. The type of fat matters too, to an extent--mostly it's the amount of water in butter than contributes to the softening. Try using Plugra, which has a lower percentage of water.

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