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embarrassing question- failure with cookies! why?

I am a decent enough cook to make lobster risotto with home made stock for lunch, but I never ever bake. Now that my toddler daughter is into cooking, I decided to make cookies for the first time. I went pretty basic- Nestle"s recipe for chocolate chip cookies. I cut the recipe in half as it produces 60 cookies, which i thought was too much. Besides that, I followed to a t (didn't add nuts).
The result is a disaster: the cookies never 'flatened', they took much longer than the 9-11 minutes to cook (more like 15), they are not crunchy, the inside is crumbly and sandy. what the hell? i thought 6 year olds succesfully do this!
So now my family's respect is on the line and I need to try again. any ideas of what is going on? The one thing I noticed was that the dough was a bittoo crumbly, not 'wet' enough
Any suggestions would be most appreciated by this hurt ego!

Ingredients
•2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
•1 teaspoon baking soda
•1 teaspoon salt
•1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
•3/4 cup granulated sugar
•3/4 cup packed brown sugar
•1 teaspoon vanilla extract
•2 large eggs
•2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels
•1 cup chopped nuts

preheat oven to 375° F.

COMBINE flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels and nuts. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.

BAKE for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

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  1. Maybe you needed to cream the butter & sugars longer--they should be pretty fluffy, not merely well mixed. FWIW, when I used to bake a lot of cookies (no longer), I often had to bake them a few minutes longer than the recipe. Mke sure your oven temperature is correct, though.

    1. I've never had luck splitting cookie recipes in half. I think there is a way to do it, but the ratios aren't 1:1 so when you split it gets all weird.

      5 Replies
      1. re: corneygirl

        I don't know what do you mean, the ratios aren't 1:1.... I split cookie recipes in half all the time and it's fine. I don't think there should be any reason you can't halve any cookie recipe at all -- I've even been known to lightly beat and split a single egg. That really should not have been a problem.

        1. re: visciole

          I think perhaps what corneygirl was suggesting was that with baking you have to be careful when making fractions of a recipe, because while half the amount of butter might work for half of the amount of cookies, the leavening agents might not be able to be halved to produce the same results. Sure, it might not be the case with this particular recipe, but there are definitely a lot of instances where one is taking a risk if they hope to a half recipe of something baked by simply halving all of the ingredients in the initial recipe. Thanks!

          1. re: Laura D.

            Well, I believe you but will simply say that hasn't been my experience. Perhaps I haven't used a sufficiently complex recipe for it to have been an issue.

            1. re: Laura D.

              Thanks that is what I meant. I had this problem splitting oatmeal cookies - (an I'm sorry present for SO) Didn't want like 60 cookies for 2 people, I split a recipe that I had used before with good results and the halved recipe was terrible.

              1. re: corneygirl

                I agree with viciole - whatever happened to your halved batch of oatmeal cookies, I doubt that halving was the problem. For example, two sheets in the oven at the same time bake differently than a single sheet. I nearly always halve recipes for cookies, muffins, cakes, etc. and in 40 years of cooking have not had a problem with leavening or other ingredient ratios. Michael Ruhlman's book, Ratio, illustrates the point that it's the ratios that are paramount in baking.

        2. I am so anxious to see the replies ot your question. I had the same flattening ill cookies when I made the famour World Peace cookies. I make cookies, all different and chocolate chip is one of them and they never have flattened like this. So, I am curious, there has to be a connection that would do this to a cookie. Such tragedy.
          This is a terrible photograph but you can really see the flatness of these.
          Do your cookies resemble these?
          http://www.flickr.com/photos/7220939@...
          I did use silpat, and I have had success with other cookies using it. An the World Peace are loaded with butter also, but I chilled the cookie mix then sliced them, so it's not that the batter was warm. This has bugged me for over 2 years now.

          So good luck! I hope you get an answer, I know how frustrating it is.

          4 Replies
          1. re: chef chicklet

            I don't have my recipe for the World Peace cookies in front of me (I have the book, though, so i am somewhat familiar with it), but I'm wondering if your butter was too warm. Assuming that this recipe involves creaming butter with sugar, I would guess that your butter was too soft before you mixed it with the sugar for creaming, which caused the spread in the oven. This has happened to me before too when I've let my butter soften too much. I don't know if that helps but given that these cookies have received such rave reviews it seems like you should try them again and see what you come out with.

            1. re: Laura D.

              Thanks Laura, its been too long, I really need to make these again. I also need to get the recipe from the book, I was using one from the internet at the time, it could of been wrong.... But to respong to what you said about the butter being too warm. I really couldn't say I remember that if it was or not, but I know that I had to roll it into a log, and then put it back into the fridge, and then I sliced the cookies off after the dough was chilled. OMG, I'd certainly love to know how to make these properly the next time. Yes, they did, in fact that's why I made them, they were all over the place at the time, and they were spoken of so highly. I did use really good chocolate too....

              1. re: chef chicklet

                chef chicklet, are you sure you didn't leave out your leavening agent? It is a cookie that spreads, but not like that ;)

                1. re: foiegras

                  You know it's possible. Again been two years so I can't recall what my exact movements were, could be that I did. I don't know if I'd like a cookied that flattens out like that. It was very tacky, meaning it stuck to one's teeth in a bad way.I hope I put in flour!~

          2. Since you said you don't bake, My guess is you might have measured the flour wrong. It sounds like you might have gotten too much.

            Spoon flour into a measuring cup (NOT the liquid measure kind), and scrap level with something flat. Do NOT tap or shake to settle the four down.

            A few extra tablespoons of flour could make a difference.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Liz K

              From your description, that was my immediate guess too -- you forgot to half the flour.

            2. I can't specifically identify the source of your problem, but I'd like to mention that it is possible to over beat cookie batter/dough mixtures to the point that so much of the gluten in the flour is developed that the combined ingredients turn into something closer to bread than cookies. Mix the flour into your other ingredients just long enough to incorporate all of it into the other ingredients. I agree that you also need to cream the butter long enough to make it slightly fluffy; but don't overdo that either. When you cream the butter/sugar mixtures you're trying to incorporate air into it. But cream it gently so that you don't end up melting the butter with the heat of the beater blades. Start with ice cold ingredients and keep them as cold as possible.