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Carol's Cookies, how does she get them to stay tall, not flat?

I am trying to figure out a couple of things about Carol's Cookies...these are those huge, tall and round cookies, weighing about 7 ounces from Highland Park, Illiniois. Have your had these cookies???
Has anyone else tried to figure out her secret to keeping them so puffed up...and not cakey. These are not flat cookies, they are about 1.5 inches high and 4.5 inches wide. I love these cookies...but am getting sick of paying for the shipping charges...so, help me figure out what she does. Has anyone else made cookies that are not flat?? What is the secret, less butter, is it the way your combine ingredients or the mixing of ingredients?????
HELP ME figure this out!!!
Thanks!!
ABaker

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  1. Your post intrigued me, so I checked out Carol's site. If you look at it, you'll see that the batter (about 1/2 pound per cookie) is shaped by hand into semi-softball size pieces, then baked. I think the secret is the amount of dough used in each one. There's another shot of the finished product, and the cookies practically touch when completely baked. My suggestion is to try a good chocolate chip recipe, and fool around with the quantity of dough in each cookie and adjusting the baking time - really trial and error. http://www.carolscookies.com/locator/...

    2 Replies
    1. re: critter101

      I would add to freeze the dough balls before baking, so they are fully chilled through. Also, you can add some additional flour to your recipe. That keeps the cookies from spreading as much.

      1. re: critter101

        Well, I have tried to adjust my baking temps -four different temps. I did first batch at 375, then 350, 325 and 300. And I did exactly 7 ounces of dough, like Carol's portion and mine just flattened into a nice, huge flat cookie. haha EVERY TIME!! Bummer!
        So, I am pretty sure that temp is part of it...but I am thinking it is more so in the formula of ingredients. Less Butter was tried by me yesterday and it was not the answer. Still trying though. Thanks for the suggestions.

      2. Start baking in a hot oven so that the outside is baked quickly. After the outside of the cookie has set then lower the oven temp to finish baking the inside of the cookie. Unsure of the size of cookie you trying to bake, but it should take 8-10 minutes in a hot oven to set the outside of the cookie.

        Caution, if your using one of those tin baking sheets that are sold to home bakers, you may run into some issues with the bottom of your cookie becoming burnt. You may need to use two sheet pans, that way the bottom of the cookie does not become burnt.

        Also, if you don’t have a convection oven, only bake one sheet pan at a time.

        5 Replies
        1. re: Pastryrocks

          Great suggestion with the oven temperature!!

          Yes, I forgot about double panning. I have to do that with regular cookies, so with these monsters, it would be very necessary. And have the rack fairly high in the oven.

          1. re: Pastryrocks

            Great suggestions...I will try it...but do you have any thoughts about the actual recipe. I am pretty sure it is not a straight "Nestle toll house" cookie recipe.
            Have you tried any recipes with more flour to sugar ratio and produced a puffed up, solid cookie mass?? I am trying everything here. AHHHH!! haha

            1. re: abaker

              do you want it puffy chewy or puffy crisp? id say definitely play around with the brown to white sugar ratio - the more brown the chewier, the more white, the crispier.

              to stop from spreading, form the cookies into balls, put on baking sheet, then put the baking sheet in the freezer for 1/2 hour.

              also, avoid adding grease to your cookie sheet - use non-stick - the additional grease encourages spreading.

              finally, are you creaming room temperature butter or melted butter...? the former is your better bet.

              1. re: Emme

                Well, I think I am going for the puffy crisp type. I have not tried the melted butter option...thanks for the thought. I might try that next. The cookies I want are almost like a raw cookie dough inside with a slightly browned outside. It is like they are baked for about 10 minutes just to "set the dough" and give a slight color/crack on top. The inside is grainy...almost like they did not cream the sugar and butter. I am still playing...think I might try that melted butter.
                Thanks a ton!!

                1. re: abaker

                  Melted butter gives it chewier texture but will not make it taller. Melted butter releases water, and liquids incorporated in the dough makes the cookies rise. I think cold is the way to go. Cold butter and cold eggs, cold dough.

          2. I've been working on this, too. This site has been helpful:

            http://www.cookiemadness.net/?cat=179

            I've been playing around with the New York Times recipe. I think the long cold rest for the dough will help. Also, since the cookies are so big, I start the oven at 350 for about 8 minutes (I look at it when it has just set) and then turn down to 325 so they cook w/out browning. There is no baking powder, apparently, just baking soda, so I used 2 tsp but might use more. I've never had Carol's cookies but read that they have a strong baking soda taste. I've altered the flour to mostly cake flour, like Alton Brown's The Puffy cookie. I also played around with using a little Crisco, as in the Puffy cookie. Carol's cookies don't have it, though. Next time I'm going to reduce the sugar. I've found that makes a taller cookie, too. I don't use brown sugar but add brown sugar to white and have altered that but that didn't make a big difference in height. Also, when she bakes them, she puts them pretty close together so they touch when they're done. I wonder if that prevents more spreading, but there's the problem of getting one huge cookie if it hasn't set before touching the next cookie. But, I have to say the last batch of cookies I baked yesterday might have been the best ccc I've ever made. Using the NYT recipe, I altered the flour and increased by 2 tablespoons, used all baking soda, used 2 eggs plus an egg yolk (as a nod to the CI big and chewy ccc recipe). Let it sit overnight and baked in a doubled pan, no parchment paper or silpat. I used a cylindrical measuring cup to make the dough "balls", dough close together, then put in the freezer before baking while oven preheated. They were perfect out of the oven but flattened out some when they cooled.

            If you get anywhere, I'd love to hear about it.

            7 Replies
            1. re: chowser

              OMG, I think you are my cookie soulmate. haha
              Too funny...thanks for finding me. I have been thinking about these cookies for about 15 years now. Seriously...how does she do it??!!! She is very secretive too...I don't think her own daughter and son even know her secret. AHHH!!!
              Let me describe the cookie to you...it is very grainy inside, and almost raw.
              It makes me think she is not doing the normal creaming method for her cookie.
              When you cream your ingredients together...you pump air into the dough and dissolve the sugar into the butter. You can clearly see the sugar granules in her cookie. Which leads me to believe it is her method that is different, as well as less butter perhaps??
              I just bought a bunch when I was visiting my friends in Chicago and brought them back to Cali with me...have been doing a tasting about every night with them. haha
              And I am not so sure I would say they have a strong baking soda taste. Salty, yes, but I do not get that soapy aftertaste with a strong baking soda presence.
              And I try to avoid Crisco as much as possible. Bummer, I know...I had a good peanut butter cookie recipe with some Crisco in it...that word Crisco just scares a lot of people.
              If you look at Carol's Cookies website...she has a link to her appearance on Food Network. Her workers shape the cookie dough into big 7 ounce balls by hand and then press down lightly on the top to square them off a bit.
              I am going to check out the link you sent about cookiemadness. Thanks for the info!!
              And hopefully the NYTimes recipe is on that site too...I would love to see the ratio of ingredients and the mixing method. I think there is something different with the mixing. Can't say right now...but I will figure it out and get back to you. Nice to meet you!!!

              1. re: abaker

                Hmm, grainy makes me think she might do cold butter and mix the sugar, barely into it. Less butter does make sense, too, for less spread. Also, I noticed she doesn't use parchment or silpat, at least in the pictures. On the first site I posted, there was a blog about Carol's cookies and in the comments was the ingredient list, but nothing unusual, def. no Crisco. This was helpful for me, too:

                http://www.baking911.com/cookies/choc...

                The NYT recipe (uses cake flour for starch and bread flour for more protein):

                http://www.nytimes.com/2008/07/09/din...

                It's an excellent cookie, esp with the adjustments I made, adding an egg yolk and more flour. But, I have that cookie in my head and want to try to get close to it.

                1. re: chowser

                  I agree with you...I think she is using cold butter, not melted...but might be worth trying once to eliminate. Yes, her ingedients are all normal stuff...here is a list of the ingedients from the latest cookie of hers I just ate. haha
                  Carol's Milk Chocolate Chunk Cookies
                  Flour, granulated sugar, brown sugar, butter, eggs, milk chocolate, salt, baking soda and vanilla.
                  First thing I find interesting is the flour being the first ingredient on the list. Usually you place the item with the highest volume (albeit weight or cup measure) in that first spot. This makes sense if we are leaning towards the more sugar, flour to butter ratio. Hmmm...
                  And I usually use parchment paper under my cookies. I noticed that too when I saw her video. haha
                  I am not giving up on this...do not worry. Thanks for the links. Your website is GREAT!!!!! I am a big fan now.

                  1. re: abaker

                    Oh, that's not my web site, just one I found while trying to figure this out. But it is excellent. Interesting that sugar appears higher than brown sugar. That was one of my thoughts, in addition to less sugar than normal. And, she uses milk chocolate instead of semisweet or bitter? She could be using less sugar, then, because I think milk chocolate would make it too sweet. More baking soda than vanilla, too. I usually use more vanilla so that's something else to play with, increasing baking soda. Thanks!

                  2. re: chowser

                    The Torres CCC is a keeper. One of the tricks we use to achieve a tall cookie is to cut them with a biscuit cutter. Thick roll of dough, cold as ice and placed in the oven one tray at a time in a traditional oven. Under bake if you want chewy middles.

                    1. re: HillJ

                      I love this idea. Do you flatten out the dough like biscuits? How thick? I'm thinking it would be great to do that and freeze some, too. Thanks!

                      1. re: chowser

                        That's exactly what we do, chowser! 1/2 thick, 3 inch round cutter. Set in freezer for 2 mins. bake.

              2. would less fat and a bit more flour help to prevent the melting and spreading?

                I remember back in the late 70's when these 'mounded' cookies became popular--Sunset Magazine did an article on them and called for refrigerating the scooped-out dough on the cookie sheet. So the dough and the sheet go into the oven cold. You might search Sunset archives for the recipe, for tips and techniques.

                1. I searched at Sunset's site and found this illuminating discussion of CC recipes and dough treatments:

                  http://www.sunset.com/food-wine/techn...

                  Hope it helps you.

                  Me, I'm going into the kitchen in search of ingredients!

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: toodie jane

                    Thanks for the link...I have printed them out and will do some comparisons with ingredient ratios. Very helpful, thanks!!!
                    And I do think that less butter and more flour is part of the answer here.
                    Here dough does not look wet it almost looks crumbly...which leads me to think more flour and less butter.