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What happened to these cookies?

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My friend just sent me a picture of her (disastered) batch of cookies. She asked me what went wrong, so I thought I would defer to the bakers out there. Any guesses?

asked by Cristina Sciarra over 2 years ago
11 answers 1337 views
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added over 2 years ago

Ooooh dear, ahah.

Seems to be like there was too much fat in the recipe.

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added over 2 years ago

Yes, I talked to her a little after I posted this. There was talk of plenty of butter, melted in the microwave.

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added over 2 years ago

Additionally, I would defer your friend to this lovely link by David Lebovitz.

http://www.davidlebovitz...

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added over 2 years ago

The pic makes it seem as though there was really something off with the recipe. Though cooling the cookie dough can help prevent spreading, even a room temperature dough should not spread like this.

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boulangere

Cynthia is a trusted source on Bread/Baking.

added over 2 years ago

Yikes! Too much sugar is usually the culprit when cookies spread too much, but these look like there is something else seriously wrong. I suspect that the flour amount is way off.

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Stephanie Bourgeois

Stephanie is the Head Recipe Tester of Food52.

added over 2 years ago

Did the recipe call for melted butter? Usually butter should be just soft and creamed with the sugar for cookies. Melted butter will cause spreading like this.

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HalfPint

HalfPint is a trusted home cook.

added over 2 years ago

Almost looks like the cookie dough did not get a proper chill before baking. That, and it almost looks like there's too much butter. The photos remind me of what happens when you do not properly chill a Christine Tosi cookie recipe.

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ATL
added over 2 years ago

I had a similar problem with all my cookies and wrote in here about it. Happened after a move from east to west coast. Oven was fine, I chilled my dough, I used a national brand butter as well as flour so it was not a regional variation etc. I never had a problem before and always used butter. One suggestion i got was to add shortening. VERY reluctantly, instead of a stick of butter, I subbed two tbsp. shortening and the rest butter. Problem solved. Still don't know the "why" but this hasn't affected the taste.

67da29df-0253-44dd-98a1-250b49e519a4.hilary_sp1
added over 2 years ago

Looks to me to be a problem with the fat and the dough probably wasn't chilled long enough. I find there is a lot of spread in cookies with melted butter-- the recipe has to be just right, the dough chilled, and the oven at the proper temperature.
Did your friend start these cookies in a high temperature oven? Like 375 instead of 350? I've found lowering the temp mid bake to be helpful for some cookies.

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ATL
added over 2 years ago

I think the problem is definitely the fat as I said above. I used to chill my dough overnight and my cookies still melted within one minute.

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added over 2 years ago

ATL, you added shortening, which actually increased the fat in your recipe. Shortening is 100% fat, butter is between 80-84% fat, as mandated by the FDA for Grade A butter and above. That fix seemed to work for you, but I still think the problem is that the butter acts as both a fat and a liquid in the OP's cookies, since it was melted. More flour is generally needed to compensate for this.