(Updated from May 27, 2014)
Melted chocolate, sweet sugars, and cookie dough. When those scents waft through the house, you know fresh cookies will be coming out of the oven soon. But what do you do when they don’t turn out perfectly? Here’s a cookie troubleshooting guide to help you figure out any cookie imperfections.
If your cookies are too tough . . .
You may have used too much flour or a flour with too high of a protein content. Unless you want a chewy cookie, do not use bread flour. Check your measurements–the cookies may not have enough fat or the amount of sugar may be wrong.
If your cookies are too crumbly . . .
They may have too much sugar, shortening, or leavening or may not be thoroughly mixed. Try adding more eggs.
If your cookies are too hard . . .
They may have been baked too long or at a temperature that was too low. Too much flour or not enough shortening or liquid will make them hard also.
If your cookies are too dry . . .
The same elements that make cookies too hard, may make them too dry. Try baking them at a higher temperature for a shorter period. Substitute brown sugar (with its higher moisture content) for part of the granulated sugar.
If your cookies are too brown . . .
The cookies were most likely baked too long or at too high of a temperature. Too much sugar may make a cookie brown too readily.
If your cookies are not browned enough . . .
The baking temperature was too low, they were not baked long enough, or there was too little sugar.
If your cookies spread too much . . .
The baking temperature may be too low. Too much sugar, shortening, or leavening will cause spread. If pans are greased with too much shortening, spread may occur. Add a little more flour or chill your dough before forming the cookies.
If your cookies don’t spread enough . . .
The opposite conditions that create too much spread may cause your cookies not to spread enough. There may not be enough sugar, shortening, or leavening, or the temperature is too high. Try adding more grease to the pan and baking at a lower temperature.
If the edges or crust turns out sugary . . .
The cookies probably have too much sugar. The dough may have been inadequately mixed.
If your cookies have a poor flavor . . .
Make sure all the flavoring ingredients were added. Dated or low quality ingredients may not impart strong enough flavors. Improperly washed baking pans will sometimes cause a cookie to taste bad.
If your cookies stick to the pans . . .
The pans probably weren’t greased adequately. Too much sugar will make cookies stick. Cookies are usually easier to remove from their pans immediately after coming from the oven.