Flat chewy cookies turn out puffy and cakey. Why?

I've tried 2 recipes for chewy crispy cookies that should spread out on the pan. Both times they stayed puffy and more cake like. I am a good baker as a rule and followed recipes to a T. Please advise

nancy essig


nancy E. August 23, 2015
POLC, thanks for those recipes. the salted one looks great. Just what the perfect cookie instructions in drbabs answer called for.
PieceOfLayerCake August 23, 2015
This is slightly off topic, but people are constantly singing the praises of the "ultimate chocolate chip cookie", whatever that may be for them. As with so many things in life, why can't all types of chocolate chip cookie be fabulous in their own right. I like chewy chocolate chip cookies as much as the next joe, but I also like a good crispy, Florentine-esque CCC too. Why is it that we can't have a penchant without decrying other preferences (Coke vs. Pepsi, springs to mind)?

Just a thought....
Susan W. August 23, 2015
I think everyone just searches for their idea of the perfect (insert item). I always keep in mind that my idea of the ultimate is only my taste and someone else may have a totally opposite view of what is the ultimate. My tastes and recipes are always being tweaked. The only exception to that are family recipes like my mom's macaroni salad and her cloudless oatmeal cookies. To me, those are perfection.

Coke...preferably Mexican coke in a glass bottle. I have one maybe twice a year. :)
Susan W. August 23, 2015
Nancy, I ran across this recipe of Amanda's. Not sure if you are looking for a cookie this thin and crisp, but it looks like a good one.
nancy E. August 22, 2015
DrBabs, what a fantastic article. I am glad to see I am not alone in cookie malfunctions. I have bookmarked the recipe he finally came to and cannot wait to try them. Thanks so much for your help
nancy E. August 22, 2015
DrBabs, Even though these were not as described the flavour was amazing. It is a wonderful recipe and everyone ate them till they were gone. I will try less flour (i do prefer weigh measures in baking) Thank you for the recipe. I will keep trying.
drbabs August 22, 2015
Nancy, I'm really glad that you like them. If you want to get nerdy about it, here's a great article about how different ingredients and aspects of cookie baking affect the texture and appearance:
Susan W. August 22, 2015
Nancy, it's possible it's the recipes, but I have found melting the butter partially makes a difference. I've done the totally melted browned butter, but those came out almost greasy. I melt until there's a knob if unmelted and then take it off the heat and swirl the pan until it's blended and creamy. I also have increased brown sugar vs white and I've removed a spoonful or two of the flour.

I doubt this is you, but my daughter and I can follow the same recipe and end up with different cookies. She over mixes every time. She literally can't help herself. Lol
PieceOfLayerCake August 22, 2015
Could you post the recipes please? Generally, eggs and liquid are the culprit for cakey cookies, along with the mixing method, but i'd have to see the recipes to be sure. In return, I may post my absolute go-to chewy chocolate chip cookie recipe ;)
nancy E. August 22, 2015
One was the "marvellous, magical cookies from food 52, the other was an Alton Brown Recipe. I am afraid I am a Luddite and do not know how to add things to these posts
drbabs August 22, 2015
Nancy, I, too, have made the magical cookies (my own recipe) and had them come out puffy and cakey. I suspect in that recipe that the culprit is the additional ingredients. (Some granola probably absorbs more liquid or is more acidic than others, causing the leavening to work differently.) Also, and this is entirely my fault because I used volume instead of weight as measurements, you may be packing your flour too tightly when you measure it. mrslarkin has a recipe for chubby chocolate chip cookies that she created when she accidentally added an extra cup of flour to her usual cookie dough recipe. So if there's too much flour, they may come out more puffy and chewy. Make sure you stir your flour well, scoop it lightly into the measuring cup, and level off the top. I hope this helps.
PieceOfLayerCake August 22, 2015
Hmm...while its not my go-to, Alton's "chewy" recipe has always produced results for me. A couple that I've tried it FANTASTIC results though are:



the latter is made with brown butter, which Susan mentioned made her cookies greasy. I have not experienced this and have used that recipe as my centerpiece Christmas cookie collection for years.
Susan W. August 22, 2015
POLC, I actually think it's a thing with me. People love those cookies. I love the browned butter flavor. I almost get an oily, juicy mouth feel. Not describing it very well. Almost like I've made the cookies with oil. I was thinking of trying browning the butter and letting it cool to almost solid, but not quite. I never did try that though. I switched to the melt until creamy method.
PieceOfLayerCake August 22, 2015
I've tried letting the butter cool to room temperature and then creamed it with the sugar and it works pretty well. You don't quite get the super chewy/gooey texture, but they're still nice and soft. Something that might help, with anyone experiencing lacing or butter not emulsifying, is to chill the dough thoroughly before baking. It'll keep the butter solid for longer and keep the texture and shape a little tighter. Another thing, with this recipe in general, is not to skip the mixing and resting period. Its tedious, but its what really makes the emulsion successful between the butter, sugar and egg. Just be sure not to mix it too vigorously, or the overmixing of the egg will cause the egg to rise and collapse.
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