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May 26, 2009 08:50 PM

Cook's Illustrated Cookie Recipes

I'm an avid baker and big fan of Cook's Illustrated / America's Test Kitchen. I've tried 4 or 5 of their cookie recipes and they generally turn out pretty well but I've noticed one recurring theme...mine never have the crackly exterior they extol (specifically the Brown Sugar cookies, the Chewy Chocolate cookies, and the Perfect Chocolate Chip cookies.) I live in Orlando and I know the recipes are developed in the NE - anyone think the difference in climate could be to blame? I use a pizza stone in the bottom of my (conventional) oven to even out any hotspots and constantly monitor the oven temperature. I also generally have to add 10 degrees to the recommended temperature to prevent too much spreading. I would really appreciate any thoughts / ideas. Thanks!!

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  1. Not sure, but I guess Florida's increased humidity could be the culprit. Brown sugar definitely results in chewier cookies and I notice CI increased the brown to white sugar ratio in their Perfect CCC to create a chewier cookie. I might play around with increasing the white to brown sugar ratio which should result in a crispier cookie.

    You might also want to check out the Cookie Chapter in Shirley Corriher's book - Bakewise.

    I am also including a link to some common cookie problems and fixes --

    1. There was a note in Cook's Country that leaving the baking stone in the oven actually impedes even browning. It was in the April/May 2009 issue, in the Ask Cook's Country section: "We found that the stone consistently impeded browning on the surface closest to it, thus extending baking time. When we tried placing baking sheets directly on the stone, the stone caused slight over-browning on the bottom of the baked goods. We recommend removing your pizza stone from the oven when you're not baking pizza or bread."

      CI's brown sugar cookies turn out well for me in my gas oven, although I always have to leave them in an extra minute (my oven runs a bit cool). But it's also consistently dry here in N. California.

      1. Might also be that AP flour is apparently softer (has less gluten content) in the South. You may want to add a teaspoon or so of gluten flour to a recipe?

        1. And I also wanted to add that with these crackly cookies, I leave the cookies in the oven until they start to crack on top, regardless of how long that takes (sometimes it takes an extra minute, sometimes several minutes, but they always do crack eventually--just be patient).

          1. Thanks to you all for your ideas! I'm going to have to experiment with the stone in / out of the oven.

            I made another batch of the chocolate chip last night and had better results. I really let the sugar dissolve into the butter and then I refrigerated the dough before (and after) scooping. Also baked 10 degrees higher than the recipe. Still don't know for sure what I did differently the first time!

            Thanks again!