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An Oddball Technique for Thin, Crispy, Chewy Cookies

May 15, 2019

A little over a month ago, I wrote an article about pressed chocolate cake. And by pressed, I mean just that: stacking some plates on top of a just-baked cake, and waiting for them to weigh down the layer into its densest, fudgiest, happiest mood. I first read about this method in River Cafe London. But the most surprising part of the article was a comment from a reader:

“I like to do this with cookies that puff up too much,” Cyanpineapple wrote. “Squishing them while they're warm with a mug takes some of that air out so they get more chewy rather than dry.”

Whoa.

Cyanpineapple swears by this trick for overinflated snickerdoodles and oatmeal cookies. Another reader, Krista P., chimed in that she’s done the same with chocolate chip cookies.

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Top Comment:
“Which is to say, you did such a beautiful job with all of your test batches that I don't think they're quite right for this trick.”
— cyanpineapple
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Of course, I had to try it out for myself. So this weekend, I baked three different kinds of cookies—chocolate chip, peanut butter, and olive oil–chocolate—and put the trick to the test.

As soon as each batch of cookies came out of the oven, I pressed half of them on the sheet tray with a glass. After some initial stickage and chocolate smearing, I figured out that a little nonstick spray goes a long way toward a clean smush. (And yes, smush is the technical term we’ll be using here.)

The results? The smushed cookies were better or worse, depending on what you’re looking for. If you’re the sort of person who wants cookies to be as thin as possible, then I have a feeling you and this hack are going to get along great.

The chocolate cookies transformed from domed and brownie-like to dense and fudgy. Meanwhile, the chocolate chip cookies’ centers became suspended in a gooey state and the chocolate chips themselves, spread out in all directions, as if someone popped each one like a balloon. The peanut butter cookies went from classic crispy-chewy with a modest poof to paper-thin wafers—perfect, I imagined, for sandwiching with Nutella.

Photo by Emma Laperruque
Photo by Emma Laperruque
Photo by Emma Laperruque

Of course, this trick can come in handy if you’re baking cookies that aren’t behaving the way you want them to—say, getting too puffy or not spreading enough in the oven. But cookie-smushing is just as fun for adapting a favorite recipe that you think could be a little thinner or crisper.

My only caveat: All of the smushed cookies looked like they had been, well, smushed. Which is to say, I thought they weren’t quite as pretty as their left-alone counterparts.

But beauty is in the eye of the beholder, right? Maybe a smushed—extra-thin, extra-chewy, extra-crisp—cookie is just what you’re after. And now you know how to get it.

Have you ever tried this technique? Tell us in the comments!

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Emma is a writer and recipe developer at Food52. Before this, she worked a lot of odd jobs, all at the same time. Think: stir-frying noodles "on the fly," baking dozens of pastries at 3 a.m., reviewing restaurants, and writing articles about everything from how to use leftover mashed potatoes to the history of pies in North Carolina. Now she lives in Maplewood, New Jersey with her husband and their cat, Butter. Stay tuned every Tuesday for Emma's cooking column, Big Little Recipes, all about big flavor and little ingredient lists. And see what she's up to on Instagram and Twitter at @emmalaperruque.

4 Comments

jesio May 20, 2019
To get a similar effect, I slap the pan on the oven rack two or three times during baking - just when they start to puff up. The result is a chewy cookie without the smushed look.
 
cyanpineapple May 15, 2019
Haha! Glad you tried it. But you're right; I meant more that it's a good trick for cookies that aren't behaving right and are getting too puffy. Smooshed cookie compared to properly spread cookie? I'll take the properly spread one. But smooshed cookie compared to something dry and overly-domed? Gimme the smoosh.
 
cyanpineapple May 15, 2019
Which is to say, you did such a beautiful job with all of your test batches that I don't think they're quite right for this trick.
 
Posie (. May 15, 2019
Not oddball at all! My trick--and I always do this with chocolate chip cookies and lots of other ones too--is to "smack" them (rather hard!) with the back of a spoon as soon as they come out of the oven. It's sort of like a hybrid of your smooshing method and the pan-banging method. Gives them ripples and flattens them, but not too much. Plus...it's fun haha.