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Help with fluffy cookies?

I've been on a cookie-baking mission ever since my flatmates donated enough ingredients to me to start up a small bakery. However, the tollhouse cookie recipe that I'm using has resulted in some very, very 'fluffy' cookies that taste more like cake than cookie...What could I be doing wrong?

This is the current recipe, taken from the net and adapted for a smaller batch:

Toll House Inn chocolate chip cookies (adapted and adapted some more)

1 1/8 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
pinch of salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup packed light brown sugar and granulated white sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg
1 cup (12-oz. pkg.) choc-chips

Dry ingredients added to dry, and then wet to wet after creaming butter, sugar and essence; then egg. Extra water added to make dough. 10-15 mins in oven after dough is left c. 12 hrs to 'rest' in fridge. Cooked at 190.

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  1. It's most likely the water you added. In the oven the steam from the water is going to give lift to your cookies, resulting in the more cake like texture. Your recipe seems to be the Tollhouse recipe halved, except for the baking soda which should be 0.5 teaspoon to be a correct ratio in relation to the other ingredients. Half the vanilla as well.

    7 Replies
    1. re: taiwanesesmalleats

      Thanks - is there anything that you'd recommend to use instead of water? I didn't know if using milk instead to bind the mixture would affect the composition of the cookies. And...I think I will adjust the baking powder too :D

      1. re: Mina Murray

        Baking powder or baking soda? They're two very different things in baking. Although both provide "rise" due to the release of carbon dioxide, baking powder has additional acid to cause the dough to set faster.

        Why did you need to use water?

        1. re: taiwanesesmalleats

          I wasn't sure that I needed to originally, but when I combined the dry ingredients and the wet, the discrepancy was obvious both times I made the recipe - it was very dry and did not form into dough at all.

        2. re: Mina Murray

          I'm not sure why water would be added at all. The eggs and butter should be enough to bind the ingredients...the batter shouldn't be wet.

          1. re: puddin head

            Perhaps the OP didn't divide the dry ingredients into batches so that it incorporates with the liquids better?

            1. re: puddin head

              I was wondering the same thing the first time I read this but am not much of a baker so didn't initially respond. I make the tollhouse recipe all the time (but use half butter half shortening as a personal preference, nothing to do with cake-i-ness) and couldn't figure out why on earth water is needed.

            2. re: Mina Murray

              adding water and letting sit should really make problems. baking soda reacts to water at room temperature. Chemistry experiment gone wrong. that said, the other half of baking powder reacts when heated...

          2. You got a pretty succint reply from smalleats. If that is indeed the amount of baking soda you're using, that will have a noticeable affect on rise and texture. And I've made the mistake of adding water to baked goods when the dough didn't seem right. Always a disaster. Are you letting the butter soften fully and are you adding the ingredients sufficiently slowly?

            One more point, it seems you're using twice the amount of chocolate chips. I'm all about chocolate, but that sounds like enough of an increase to really affect the outcome.

            1. Your recipe is half of the original Tollhouse cookie recipe but the baking soda (which causes the rise) amount is the same. Try reducing it by half and see how it goes. If it's still fluffy, you could be overbeating the butter and/or egg. The vanilla is the original amount but I use more vanilla and like the taste, plus the extra liquid would cause it to spread, not be more cakey anyway.

              1. the water may have contributed, but i'm thinking the baking soda is the primary culprit. as taiwanesesmalleats already pointed out, 1/2 teaspoon is sufficient for this recipe. anything more and you end up with puffy cookies.

                BTW, if you also want to make them chewier/more dense, omit the granulated sugar and use all brown sugar. (but if you prefer a thin, crisp cookie, keep the sugar as written.)

                1. If reducing the baking soda still gives a fluffier result than you were expecting, you might also try letting the dough rest/season in the fridge for a while (up to 24 or 36 hours) before you bake the cookies. In addition to letting the flavor develop more, that allows the flour to absorb the liquid better, so maybe it won't be released to steam so quickly in the oven.

                  1. I agree with the extra water as a contributor to your issue. I'd also review the amount of baking soda in the recipe as it appears to me to be about twice the amount you should be using. The vanilla extract, except for the fact that it affects the level of liquid in the total recipe, is a matter of personal taste. Also make certain that the amount of granulated sugar and brown sugar you use are precisely the same (6 ounces by volume of each for this recipe - brown sugar packed of course) or just replace the granulated sugar altogether with brown sugar. The 190 degrees Centigrade should be about right. Allowing the finished dough to rest in the fridge o/night will give the gluten more time to develop and that should stiffen them up somewhat.
                    I don't understand what "...after dough is left c" means so I can't comment on that aspect.

                    1 Reply
                    1. re: todao

                      "I don't understand what "...after dough is left c" means so I can't comment on that aspect."
                      OP left the dough in the refrigerator for ~12 hours to rest.

                    2. Thank you all very much for your help - I'll try your recommendations and see what happens...the only thing is, I'm now addicted to cookies!

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: Mina Murray

                        You should give Alton Brown's The Chewy a try. It's my go-to chocolate chip cookie recipe.

                      2. Try making a whole batch first, don't add any water, and melt the butter before adding the sugar instead of creaming them together. Then if you need 1/2 batches in the future make one with exactly half of each ingredient, with the knowledge that you may have to tweak measurements in further batches.

                        NEVER NEVER add water to cookie dough if the recipe doesn't call for it, and be suspicious if the recipe does. Water + flour = gluten, but if you coat the flour with fat the gluten doesn't form, or forms very little. The egg and butter should provide plenty of liquid and fat for your recipe and cookie dough should be stiff.

                        1. Like others stated, you have pretty much the Toll House and other standard recipes for chocolate chip cookies. I use almost the exact recipe except decreasing the baking soda to 1/2 teaspoon. Over the years, I've have baked hundreds of batches and never needed to add water.
                          Sift together the flour, baking soda and salt. Cream butter with the sugar until well mixed but not need to be fluffy. Beat in the egg and the vanilla. On low speed, add the flour mixture and mix to form a dough. Don't overbeat. Add the chocolate chip and mix just to combine. I have never had any problem and never need to add water. The egg should provide enough liquid to form a dough. Also, I don't understand what chilling the dough does unless the dough is too wet and need to chill it to firm it up.
                          Are you measuring the flour correctly? If you use a measuring cup and scoop densely packed flour, you might have too much flour making your dough too dry. But it is always a mistake to try to add liquid to a already formed dough.
                          If this was your first try at the recipe, I would give it another go at it (do decrease the amount of baking soda) and skip the water before racking your brain to try to figure out what went wrong. And don't chill the dough. One doesn't need to wait another 12 hours to bake chocolate chip cookies.

                          2 Replies
                          1. re: PBSF

                            Chilling the dough will result in a cookie that isn't as flat since butter tends to melt quickly. It also gives times for the flavors to intermingle a little more.

                            1. re: PBSF

                              Refrigerating dough makes a big difference with cookies. I started doing it after reading about the NY Times experiment. People have always liked the recipes I made but the NY Times recipe, with refrigerating the dough, has taken it to another level.


                            2. I would recommend decresing your brown sugar to 1/2 cup and adding a 1/4 cup of Golden Syrup.