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Old 02-25-2012, 07:08 PM   #1
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Help with my Cookies

I'm not sure if this is a repost or not as I've searched the forums for the answer to my problem but still haven't found a solution.

I have made multiple batches of cookies, some come out fine and some come out flat. The two recipes we're dealing with here are a) Snickerdoodles and b) Peanut Butter Cookies. I have made the Snickerdoodles many, many, MANY times. I've recently moved to a new apartment and it's about the same time that I have started having issues with my cookies.

My cookies are FLAT! And it's not that they cook up nicely and then flatten out once they're removed from the oven like a poor soufflé, the dough itself has something wrong with it. Both recipes require rolling the dough into balls and then rolling the balls into a sugar mixture, but the dough is not rollable. It's too soft. I have tried refrigerating the dough and it does not fix the issue. (I was able to roll the peanut butter cookies after chilling but they still cooked flat).

I have tried different variations of butter, different brands, salted, unsalted, etc. (I do not use margarine unless there is no other option, and certainly not margarine from a a tub to do my baking). The first time this happened the baking soda was also fresh. I do not believe that I'm whipping too much air into them as I mix my cookies by hand... I've had a batch of snickerdoodles come out flat. Then the next time I make them they're fine. And then the next batch they're flat again. I can't seem to figure this out! I've posted both recipes below.

Snickerdoodles (This recipe is from my mother)
Butter or margarine, softened 1 cup
Granulated sugar 1-1/2 cups
Eggs 2
All-purpose flour 2-1/2 cups
Cream of tartar 2 tsp.
Baking soda 1 tsp.
Salt ¼ tsp.
Granulated Sugar 2 tbsp.
Cinnamon 2 tsp.

Cream butter and first amount of sugar well. Beat in eggs 1 at a time.

Mix in flour, cream of tartar, baking soda and salt. Shape into 1 inch (2.5 cm) balls.

Stir remaining sugar and cinnamon together in small dish. Roll balls in mixture to coat. Place on ungreased cookie sheet. Bake in 400°F (200°C) oven for 7-8 minutes. Makes about 4 dozen.

Peanut Butter Blossoms (From the Company's Coming Cookbook)
Hard margarine (or butter), softened 1/2 cup 125 mL
Smooth peanut butter 1/2 cup 125 mL
Brown sugar, packed 1/2 cup 125 mL
Granulated sugar 1/2 cup 125 mL
Large egg 1 1
Milk 2 tbsp. 30 mL
Vanilla extract 1 tsp. 5 mL

All-purpose flour 1 3/4 cups 425 mL
Baking soda 1 tsp. 5 mL
Salt 1/2 tsp. 2 mL

Granulated sugar, approximately 1/3 cup 75 mL

Milk chocolate kisses, approximately 54 54

Cream first 4 ingredients in large bowl. Add next 3 ingredients. Mix well.

Combine next 3 ingredients in small bowl. Add to peanut butter mixture in 2 additions, mixing well after each addition until no dry flour remains. Roll into 1 inch (2.5 cm) balls.

Roll balls in second amount of granulated sugar in same small bowl until coated. Arrange about 2 inches (5 cm) apart on ungreased cookie sheets. Bake in 375°F (190°C) oven for about 10 minutes until golden. Remove from oven.

Immediately place 1 chocolate kiss on top of each cookie. Press down until cookie cracks around edge. Let stand on cookie sheets for 5 minutes. Remove cookies from cookie sheets and place on wire racks to cool. Makes about 54 cookies.


I am also using a light, air-bake pan from Baker's Secret which I have *never* had issues with - I've been using them for years. What else could possibly be messing with my dough?!

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Old 02-25-2012, 09:06 PM   #2
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Test your oven temperature for accuracy with a good oven thermometer. If the oven is running too low, that could cause too much spread in the cookies.

Also, make sure your baking soda is active, regardless of what the expiration date says. Mix 1/4 teaspoon baking soda with 2 teaspoons of vinegar and the mixture should bubble immediately.
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Old 02-25-2012, 10:10 PM   #3
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Thanks for the ideas - I'll give them a shot!
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Old 02-26-2012, 02:00 AM   #4
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Also, margarine has oil in it. Which is more fat that butter. Butter has solids. Margarine doesn't and tend to cause cookies to flatten. And you might try making sure your cookie dough is cold when you put it in the oven. Make up a sheet of cookies on a cookie tray and place in the fridge while you are making up the second tray. Then place the second tray in the fridge while the first tray is baking. This gives the dough a chance to rest. When you roll the cookies, the dough is picking up the warmth from your hands. So when you place them in the oven they are all ready warm. Not a good thing. Cookie dough bakes better when cold.
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Old 02-26-2012, 02:12 AM   #5
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I find that butter is not the best choice in some cookies. I use vegetable shortening when I want a cookie to stand up and not flatten out.

On the Snickerdoodles I would up the flour by 1/4 cup and on the Peanut Butter Blossoms I would use the original Hershey's recipe.

Good luck!
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Old 02-27-2012, 07:30 AM   #6
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Quote:
Also, margarine has oil in it. Which is more fat that butter. Butter has solids. Margarine doesn't and tend to cause cookies to flatten. And you might try making sure your cookie dough is cold when you put it in the oven. Make up a sheet of cookies on a cookie tray and place in the fridge while you are making up the second tray. Then place the second tray in the fridge while the first tray is baking. This gives the dough a chance to rest. When you roll the cookies, the dough is picking up the warmth from your hands. So when you place them in the oven they are all ready warm. Not a good thing. Cookie dough bakes better when cold.
The issue I'm having with these cookies is not that they're going flat when they bake. The dough itself is ending up too soft to roll. I don't use margarine at all when I bake. I have tried refrigerating the dough but it doesn't help at all (both cookies after refrigerating were still too soft to roll).

The other issue that bothers me is that the Snickerdoodles were not a "first time making" issue. These cookies are tested and true (myself) and until a month ago I have NEVER had an issue with the dough (I have been making the Snickerdoodles for years). So what I'm trying to figure out is why my cookies are suddenly failing in random batches. (I've made three batches of cookies since I've moved: 1) Snickerdoodles (failed dough) 2) Snickerdoodles (perfect!) 3) Peanut Butter Blossoms (failed dough). How is this possible?

Quote:
Also, make sure your baking soda is active, regardless of what the expiration date says. Mix 1/4 teaspoon baking soda with 2 teaspoons of vinegar and the mixture should bubble immediately.
I have checked this and my baking soda is active. (Thanks for the tip on checking! I'll be doing this more often!)

I'm pulling my hair out trying to figure out why my dough is too soft - and messed up enough that chilling the dough does nothing. (On a side note I have never had to chill my snickerdoodles before either and with no repercussions to my cookies.)

Any more ideas out there?

My significant other believes that maybe my new apartment is too hot. If this was the case, shouldn't chilling the dough have fixed the issue?
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Old 02-27-2012, 09:53 AM   #7
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You didn't mention how long you are chilling the dough for, perhaps a bit longer in the fridge may help.
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Old 02-27-2012, 10:04 AM   #8
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You didn't mention how long you are chilling the dough for, perhaps a bitlonger inthe fridge mayhelp.
For the batch of snickerdoodles I left it for about a half hour. For the peanut butter blossoms I left them in while I ran errands which took about 4 hours by the time I got back to them. :(
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Old 02-27-2012, 11:52 AM   #9
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You are using volume measurements for the flour. That is not a very accurate way to measure - you could be getting different amounts of flour. Do you have a kitchen scale? You could measure by volume and then weigh it to see how much it is in grams or ounces. You should be able to come up with a weight that works by trial and error.
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Old 02-27-2012, 02:34 PM   #10
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It almost sounds like you don't have enough flour. Or too much fat. Go to Hershey's.com and see how there recipe compares to yours. After all, it is their recipe. And then search through the Internet at other cooking sites and compare your snickerdoodles to their recipe. Allrecipes.com and Cooking.com are two good sites to start with. Look through YouTube and see if you can find something there. There are a dozen sites that you should be able to compare your recipe to theirs. Pay attention to the amount of flour to fat. Check your temperature against other recipes. Maybe you are setting your oven too low. Raw cookie dough should be like what you find when you buy the Pillbury cookie dough found in the refrigeration section of your supermarket. Almost most dry, cold and crumbly. Good Luck.
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