The Fine Art of Creating Cookies

I have a recipe for granola cookies that I am trying to improve because the resulting cookies are too cakey for me. The recipe BASE (w/o granola) is very similar to a recipe I really cherish- Mocha Chocolate Chip Cookies- via the book, Baking with Julia, from a baker right here in Boston, Rick Katz. (While we first need to eat up the double batch of the too-cakey granola cookies) I am considering adding the granola, crnberries etc. to the BASE of Rick's cookies next time. Would youall take a look and see what you think of that idea? Here are the basic ingred list for the 2 recipes. (they both are made the same way: paddle the butter and sugar, add the egg and van., add the flour etc; add the additions (choc, granola, nuts....)

Granola Cookies
1 stick unsalted butter
1 c. dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1 1/4 c.flour
1/2 tsp bak soda
3 T. milk
1 tsp vanilla
2 c. granola
1 1/2 c total cranberries, pecans, candied orange peel

Mocha Choc Chip Cookies
1 stick unsalted butter
3/4 c. combo of equal parts white sugar and dark brown sugar
1 large egg
1 c.flour
1/2 tsp bak soda
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 1/2 c. dark 72% choc., chopped into choc chip size pieces
6 T. chopped dry apricots

The difference in the bases is that the Granola Cookies base contains 1/4 cup more of sugar, 1/4 cup more of flour, and 3T milk (what the heck is milk for? I'm guessing that's the cakiness cause right there?) I am tending to think that the 3 extra things would make for a bit bigger quantity of base(about 3 1/4 c.), so if I switch to the other base (about 2 1/2 c.), I may have to lessen the
3 1/2 c.additions to 2 3/4 c,), but otherwse, should be able to proceed. What do you think?
Thx for your help!

LeBec Fin


LeBec F. March 14, 2013
hi june, i didn't include it because it wasn't an integral part of 'the base' that i was addressing. and i do agree with you; i think the extra flour is the culprit. extra flour makes for less butter in the long run,ratio-wise, if you catch my drift...
drbabs March 14, 2013
Le bec fin, it may be the additional flour that's making the cookies cakey? Mrslarkin's chubby chewy chocolate chip cookies got that way because she accidentally added too much flour (and they're great for chewy cookie lovers). The recipe that hardlikearmour shared of mine makes cookies that are very thin and crispy, if that's what you're going for. I adapted that from Christina Tosi's compost cookies. Hers are soft and cakey in the middle, and her instructions are to cream the heck out of the butter and sugar, which introduces a lot of air. I didn't do that because I wanted a crisp cookie. I hope this helps. Let us know what happens.
hardlikearmour March 14, 2013
I don't know what to tell you. There are more than just those differences between the cookie recipes that will impact the outcome -- different sugar types, different percentage of add-ins, different ratios of flour:sugar:butter:egg... I just know that eggs contribute to cakeyness ?. My thought process was to take the granola cookie you had and tinker with it to get more of what you want with info from the CI primer. Maybe consider using drbabs Magical Marvelous Memorable Cookies as your base? They are definitely not cakey (and have a smaller percentage egg than your current recipes).
LeBec F. March 14, 2013
hla, i do much appreciate your taking the time to post that, and it is very helpful. But maybe you didn't have a chance to compare the ingreds? Both recipes call for 1 egg and both recipes use unmelted butter, but one recipe is cakey and the other is not. And that cakey recipe has more flour, sugar, and milk(v.s. no milk in the chewy recipe). so i don't think it's the egg or the butter at issue in this case...
ChefJune March 14, 2013
Mindy, I'm not a chemist, but maybe it's the reaction of the milk and egg together? I would try using the Rick Katz recipe and see if you don't like it better. I'm curious though -- I don't see where the "Mocha" is in his cookie. There's no coffee flavor in it at all.

Voted the Best Reply!

hardlikearmour March 14, 2013
I'm guessing the egg is more the cause of the cakeyness than the milk. Maybe pulling out the white would help? The milk probably contributes to chewiness by helping gluten formation.

Here's a cookie texture "primer" from Cook's Illustrated that may help you tweak the recipe to your liking:

How can I get the cookie texture I want?

By adjusting key ingredients, you can change the texture of any cookie recipe.

If you want chewy cookies, add melted butter. Butter is 20 percent water. Melting helps water in butter mix with flour to form gluten.

If you want thin, candy-like cookies, add more sugar. Sugar becomes fluid in the oven and helps cookies spread.

If you want cakey cookies, add more eggs. Yolks make cookies rich, and whites cause cookies to puff and dry out.

If you want an open, coarse crumb and craggy top, add baking soda. Baking soda reacts quickly with acidic ingredients (such as brown sugar) to create lots of gas bubbles.

If you want a fine, tight crumb and smooth top, add baking powder. Baking powder works slowly and allows for an even rise.
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