Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Cookie Troubleshooting Tips

(Sorry this is a little late!  I goofed on my scheduling for my posts and the time was messed up.  Oh well.  Better late than never)

Isn't it frustrating when you spend your time making and anticipating a delicious batch of cookies only to have them totally bomb.  Like you are so frustrated with how they turn out you end up scraping the cookies off the pan into the garbage can in a complete mania, muttering words under your breath the children shouldn't be hearing all the while they are staring in shock, even horror, watching all that goodness go to waste?  Anyone?  Anyone?

Here are a few things that I have learned in my cookie-making experience.  Its helpful to understand how different ingredients function in a recipe to know where to make certain adjustments if your cookies flop.  Here are some:

1-  Butter, Margarine or Shortening.  What's the difference?

Butter:  Butter is going to give you a deliciously, well, buttery flavor as opposed to margarine and shortening.  BUT butter tends to spread.  So if you are using all butter in your recipe, you may find it helpful to chill the dough at least 2 hours before baking. (In a hurry, pop the dough in the freezer for 20-30 minutes) That will help with the spreading issues.  Sometimes even melting the butter before adding it to the dough will help so the dough doesn't spread.  High altitude regions or areas with high humidity will benefit from adding additional flour to the dough too, another 1/4 cup should do it.

Margarine:  I really like using Imperial Margarine sticks in my baking.  Yes you lose the buttery flavor, but the results are a little more reliable and fool proof and generally I don't find it necessary to chill the dough before baking my cookies.

Shortening:  Really, I'm not much of a shortening fan, but I am ok with shortening in cookies.  It seems like the shortening helps make the cookies more puffy and soft.  You could try butter flavored shortening so you don't miss out on the butter flavor.

Typically I like a combo of both butter OR margarine and shortening. 

2- Sugar.  White sugar vs Brown sugar

White sugar is going to give you a bit of a crispier, crunchier cookie.  Brown sugar will give you a softer, chewier cookie.  Typically I like a combo of both of these as well, but there are a few exceptions when just white sugar is needed (like for sugar cookies)

3- Egg Substitute.  I use applesauce and cream cheese as my go- to substitutions.  For a while there I was cream cheese crazy using it as a substitution in all my cookies because it added moisture and made the cookies soft.  But I am finding applesauce works great too.  Sometimes using the cream cheese as a substitute doesn't add enough moisture and they end up not spreading very well, needing a little smoosh before baking.  Right now I'm really liking applesauce as my substitute.  Typically I do 1/4 cup applesauce per egg in cookies or 2 tbsp softened cream cheese per egg.

"What do I do if my cookies spread out like thin pancakes!?"

Did you use all butter?  Maybe try using half butter/half shortening. Did you chill the dough?  Chill the dough for at least an hour before baking.  Did the dough have enough flour?  Sometimes 3-4 tbsp extra flour is all the dough needs to help it puff up and stay together verses make a melted mess on your cookie sheets, especially if you are at a high altitude.  You will need more flour.

*Store cookies in an airtight container for 3-4 days.  If you aren't going to eat them that quickly, FREEZE them!  Most cookies freeze great.  Just place in a freezer ziploc bag and pull them out to defrost when you are ready to eat them.

You can also make the dough, scoop out into cookie sized portions and flash freeze.  (Place dough balls on a cookie sheet.  Freeze until firm, then transfer to a freezer safe container or bag).  Then bake them up when the craving for fresh baked cookies hits.  Just add a few extra minutes to the cooking time.

Hopefully these cookie tips help you as we head into the holiday baking season.  For other information and articles on cookie making and troubleshooting, check out the links below.


  1. Thank you for sharing these tips. Since going egg free I have not had success with many cookie recipes.

    1. I hope you can your cookie recipes to start turning out. Egg free cookies took me awhile to get down... and even still I run into problems sometimes. Good luck!