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Why are my chocolate chip cookies so flat?

Ok, I've been a baker for YEARS. And a good one, so I'm told (LOL). But, clearly I am missing something basic. I make the Tollhouse recipe for chocolate chip cookies and while they taste really good, they are always pretty flat. We all still love them as they are crispy on the edges and chewy in the middle (the way I like them), but I would like them to be a little thicker. When my mom makes them, they come out thicker, the way I would like mine to come out (and interestingly, my mom wishes hers were more flat!). So, short of going to my mom's house and watching what she does, I'm at a loss.

They are going onto cold pans. I use a small ice cream scoop. The oven is accurate. I use all fresh ingredients. The butter is a cool room temp, so not too warm. I use a Kitchenaid lift mixer.

I'm guessing that it has to do with the creaming of the butter and sugar??? beating too long maybe? I probably put the mixer on med-high for a minute max. I look for the butter and sugar to be well incorporated. Help! (and thanks!)

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  1. i know you said you put them on cold pans, but do you chill the *dough* before baking?

    6 Replies
    1. re: goodhealthgourmet

      no I don't chill it. that would probably help too! I just never have, so wondered if I could still get thicker cookies without doing that (although I certainly don't mind doing that - just takes longer to get them out of the oven - haha!!).

      1. re: Scirocco

        you know what they say...good things come to those who wait. of course i'm as impatient as they come, so i understand your reluctance to chill the dough ;)

        seriously though, chill it, form the cookies, put them on the pan, and chill again before baking.

        other options:
        - use baking powder instead of baking soda. it will give you puffier cookies because the dough sets more quickly, BUT they won't brown as much.
        - replace the butter with shortening. cookies made with butter spread faster because it melts more quickly than shortening does.

        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

          Chilling the dough is definitely worth trying.

          However, I also make the Tollhouse recipe with half butter and half shortening (just like my mom always did) for this very reason - hate those flat-as-a-pancake cookies. So, you might try that too, particuarly if chilling alone doesn't. (FYI when I do half shortening I generally don't chill)

          1. re: cookie44

            i tend to chill most of my cookies... my choc chip i chill for 24-36 hours to allow the flavors to develop. i find though that chilling them, even for half an hour or so, enables me to produce a thick cookie that's chewy on the inside, crispy on the outside. give it a go!

            1. re: cookie44

              this is my first post. HA. I am really new, but read that with baking soda/power...you need to cook the recipe immediately. Yet, I read you can freeze cookie. I also want thick cookies that i can store/freeze. Do i need a recipe that doesn't use cookie powder though?

          2. re: Scirocco

            Cold dough won't spread as quickly. You could always make a double batch next time and freeze half as cookie-ready balls of dough to be baked off on those days you need just a small cookie fix!

        2. Wow. Me too. I am a pretty good cookie baker too -- I am told. :P

          I tried the Tollhouse cookie recipe about 1-2 year ago and the cookies completely spreaded out -- almost like pancake. They tasted really good and crispy and all, but they do not look like "cookies". I have never tried the recipe since.

          Another possibility for you (not for me) is if your mom use a dark cookie sheet and you use a shiny cookie sheet. A dark cookie sheet will heat up much faster than a shiny one, so in a sense, the cookies are baked at a lower temperature on a shiny reflective cookie sheet. Alternatively, she use a very thin cookie sheet and you use a super thick one. ... same logic.

          5 Replies
          1. re: Chemicalkinetics

            The original recipe said to chill at least overnight. That was left out of the recipe on the package. Shirley Corriher recommends chilling at least a day.

            1. re: gothamette

              Is that right, I didn't know. Thanks for the information. At the end, I believe the original poster found out that the baking sheet was her biggest problem. See below:

              http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/6774...

              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                Yup, for me (the OP) my problem was 100% the pans! At least it was an easy fix! LOL

                1. re: Scirocco

                  How did you "fix it? :)

                  I remember you were thinking about giving the air insulated pan to your mom or something because she actually likes thin cookies. Did you actually do that?

                  1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                    No, she gave them to me initially because she didn't like how they baked for other stuff (different reason - not flat cookies - but I can't remember what it was). We never realized the flat cookies were also part of the same issue! So, ya, I don't think she wants them back, although she should keep at least one for the purpose of choc chip cookies! LOL

                    For me, I had one dark pan that I rarely used for cookies (it's more of a jelly roll type pan - w/sides), but I made some on that and magically had my perfect choc chip cookie again! The insulated ones are fine for other stuff though so I kept them. :)

          2. I like my cookies thinner rather than thicker, so I try not to chill them and to put them in the oven as soon as they are done. GHG is right -- chilling them will make them bake up thicker. I also find that decreasing the amount of brown sugar slightly and increasing the granulated sugar has a similar effect. Since I like them flat, I use 1 cup of brown sugar and only 1/2 cup of granulated.

            1 Reply
            1. re: roxlet

              ? I have experienced it the other way around. White granulated sugar made my cookies crispier and flatter, while brown sugar made them chewier and thicker.

            2. It might be too little flour to the butter.

              1 Reply
              1. Are you using melted butter? If so, that's probably the reason...

                1 Reply
                1. re: Cherylptw

                  Nope, not melted. follow the recipe exactly. 2 sticks of butter, room temp. I think chilling might be the solution! :)