"Discover Cooking, Discuss Life."

Go Back   Discuss Cooking - Cooking Forums > General Cooking Information > General Cooking
Click Here to Login
Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
 
Old 04-27-2012, 05:42 PM   #1
Senior Cook
 
pengyou's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: Beijing
Posts: 409
Why aren't my tollhouse choco chip cookies nice and soft and chewy anymore?

In the U.S. I was famous for my choco chip cookies...used the standard tollhouse recipe and cookies came out soft and chewy every time. About 14 years ago, I moved to China, and ever since then my cookies have come out like little disks. I can rule out measuring issues and oven temp, but after that, everything needs to be scrutinized! I am in Taiwan now and find that access to good quality baking resources is good, though sometimes it takes a little bit of digging. What is/are the most likely culprit(s)?

pengyou is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-27-2012, 05:54 PM   #2
Chef Extraordinaire
 
Kayelle's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2010
Location: south central coast/California
Posts: 14,796
Hi Pengyou.

I'm not much of a baker but I know if cookie dough is too warm, or the cookie sheets are warm, tollhouse cookies will be really flat. Could that be the problem?

Members with more baking experience than I have will be here soon to help.
__________________
Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take, but rather by the moments that take our breath away.

Kayelle is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-27-2012, 06:03 PM   #3
Certified/Certifiable
 
Chief Longwind Of The North's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: USA,Michigan
Posts: 11,671
Hard Tollhouse cookies are usually the result of:

1. cooking too long
2. not enough moisture in the dough (use butter, not shortening or lard.
Butter has water in it.
3. Not enough egg (egg adds both water, and an almost elastic protien, and
emulsifies the butter into the water)

Most probably, the culprit is either cooking temperature is too hot, or the cooking time is too long. This results in the water steaming out of the cookie, leaving the sugars, and cooked flour hard.

Seeeeeya; Chief Longwind of the North
__________________
“No amount of success outside the home can compensate for failure within the home…"

Check out my blog for the friendliest cooking instruction on the net. Go ahead. You know you want to.- https://gwnorthsfamilycookin.wordpress.com/
Chief Longwind Of The North is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-27-2012, 08:06 PM   #4
Senior Cook
 
pengyou's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: Beijing
Posts: 409
Good thoughts...I use butter and I watch the time pretty carefully. The eggs here are noticeably smaller than the Grade AA in the U.S. What happens if I put too many eggs? Can I try 3 instead of 2? In terms of cups or tablespoons, how much volume should 1 egg occupy? They also do not seem to brown at the usual time.
pengyou is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-27-2012, 09:14 PM   #5
Certified/Certifiable
 
Chief Longwind Of The North's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: USA,Michigan
Posts: 11,671
I believe, and I may be wrong in this so anybody can chime in, 1 large egg in the U.S. = about 1/4 cup in volume.

But let's face it. Water in China just isn't as wet as it is in the U.S. Oh wait, there is no added water in the tollhouse recipe. Wll, there goes that explanation.

Check your oven temperature as well, especially if the cookies are browning at a significantly different time range than is usual. We cook our Tollhouse cookies for no more than 8 minute or so, to insure that they are soft and chewy.

Seeeeeeya; Chief Longwind of the North
__________________
“No amount of success outside the home can compensate for failure within the home…"

Check out my blog for the friendliest cooking instruction on the net. Go ahead. You know you want to.- https://gwnorthsfamilycookin.wordpress.com/
Chief Longwind Of The North is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-30-2012, 04:39 PM   #6
Senior Cook
 
pengyou's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: Beijing
Posts: 409
My oven has a heating element on the top and the bottom. I have a choice as to which to use, top, bottom or both. Which should I use?
pengyou is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-30-2012, 04:41 PM   #7
Ogress Supreme
 
PrincessFiona60's Avatar
Site Administrator
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: Wyoming
Posts: 38,941
Bottom, that's the one for baking. The top one runs hotter and is for Broiling.
__________________
“There are only two ways to live your life. One is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” - Albert Einstein
PrincessFiona60 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 04-30-2012, 05:57 PM   #8
Wine Guy
 
Steve Kroll's Avatar
 
Join Date: Mar 2011
Location: Twin Cities, Minnesota
Posts: 6,345
I would look at the flour as a possible culprit. Poor quality flour could certainly result in cookies with poor texture.
Steve Kroll is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 05-04-2012, 05:45 AM   #9
Senior Cook
 
pengyou's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: Beijing
Posts: 409
Thanks...all ideas that are food for thought :)
pengyou is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-13-2012, 06:43 AM   #10
Senior Cook
 
pengyou's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2011
Location: Beijing
Posts: 409
Ohhhhh you are right about the temperature! But in a different way than I thought..my oven's thermostat is ok..but I am using a convection oven...so the temp should be set 25 degrees lower, and cooking time also reduced.
pengyou is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-13-2012, 09:41 AM   #11
Certified/Certifiable
 
Chief Longwind Of The North's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: USA,Michigan
Posts: 11,671
Quote:
Originally Posted by pengyou View Post
Ohhhhh you are right about the temperature! But in a different way than I thought..my oven's thermostat is ok..but I am using a convection oven...so the temp should be set 25 degrees lower, and cooking time also reduced.
I too have a table-top convection oven. I made personal pies last night, using my own pie crust recipe that I've been using forever. But instead of cooking in my range oven, I baked then in the convection oven. In the normal range oven, at the same temperature, I bake my pies for about 45 minutes @ 350' F. I baked them at the same temperature, but reduced the baking time to 20 minutes. I checked them at 15 minutes as the pies were starting to smell done. They were cooked perfectly. It took a third of the time in the convection oven.

Cookies that I normally bake for 9 in my range oven take only 3 minutes or so in the convection oven. It cuts baking time by 2/3rds, depending on what you're baking.

Glad you were able to figure it out.

Seeeeeeya; Chief Longwind of the North
__________________
“No amount of success outside the home can compensate for failure within the home…"

Check out my blog for the friendliest cooking instruction on the net. Go ahead. You know you want to.- https://gwnorthsfamilycookin.wordpress.com/
Chief Longwind Of The North is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-13-2012, 10:38 AM   #12
Chef Extraordinaire
 
CWS4322's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Rural Ottawa, Ontario
Posts: 13,466
I take the cookies out about 2 minutes before they are done. I put them on cooling racks that are covered with paper towels. I don't know if that is the trick that makes them chewy and soft, or not. Thanks for the info on baking in a convection oven. I have been toying with baking in mine to reduce the time and save electricity...
__________________
I've got OCD--Obsessive Chicken Disorder!
https://www.discusscooking.com/forums...les-76125.html
CWS4322 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-13-2012, 11:14 AM   #13
Head Chef
 
GLC's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2011
Location: Near Austin, Texas
Posts: 1,216
If we start with the assumption that an ingredient changed upon moving to China, the suspects are:

Flour - It look like Chinese flour has some different terminology. "Regular flour" is low gluten and rather crude. "Standard flour" is the general equivalent of all-purpose flour. There are a number of others of both high and low glutens. Gluten content approximating that of western all-purpose flour is required for the standard western toll house cookie recipe.

(Some flour makers were caught using pulverized lime in bleaching, which, aside from being inedible, alters the pH. But it's unlikely you would encounter that consistently over years.)

Baking Soda - I don't see any reason to think Chinese baking soda is different. It's kind of a secret ingredient in stir fry meat dishes. Old baking soda could be at fault, but, again, 14 years of old baking soda? Are you perhaps finding U.S. or U.K. brands that have been on the shelf in Taiwan for too long? If that's a possibility, ask an apothecary for bicarbonate of soda. I really immediately suspect old baking soda when things fall flat. You can test baking soda by putting a small amount in some vinegar. It should immediately start bubbling vigorously. If it doesn't, it's bad. Toll house batters are, I would say, borderline acidic for baking soda, so it can't stand old baking soda or anything too alkaline in the ingredients.

Baking powder - Some toll house recipes use baking powder or both baking powder and baking soda. Baking powder is even more subject to aging than baking soda, which is pretty stable. Test baking powder by adding a bit to hot water. Baking powder includes its own acid, so if it's good, it will bubble when water activates it.

Chocolate - One thing to check. Dutch process cocoa and chocolate is neutral, and baking soda depends on acidity. "Tollhouse" cookies don't normally have chocolate in the batter, aside from the chocolate chips, but if your recipe does, the difference between neutral Dutch cocoa and regular cocoa could block the baking soda.

I don't think there's much else among the ingredients. A unusually alkaline ingredient can block the baking soda's action. That's why I wondered about the limed flour until I saw how may years were involved.


So check the two most obvious, low gluten or mislabeled flour - and known fresh baking soda.
__________________
"Kitchen duty is awarded only to those of manifest excellence..." - The Master, Dogen
GLC is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 06-13-2012, 12:55 PM   #14
Certified/Certifiable
 
Chief Longwind Of The North's Avatar
 
Join Date: Aug 2004
Location: USA,Michigan
Posts: 11,671
Quote:
Originally Posted by GLC View Post
If we start with the assumption that an ingredient changed upon moving to China, the suspects are:

Flour - It look like Chinese flour has some different terminology. "Regular flour" is low gluten and rather crude. "Standard flour" is the general equivalent of all-purpose flour. There are a number of others of both high and low glutens. Gluten content approximating that of western all-purpose flour is required for the standard western toll house cookie recipe.

(Some flour makers were caught using pulverized lime in bleaching, which, aside from being inedible, alters the pH. But it's unlikely you would encounter that consistently over years.)

Baking Soda - I don't see any reason to think Chinese baking soda is different. It's kind of a secret ingredient in stir fry meat dishes. Old baking soda could be at fault, but, again, 14 years of old baking soda? Are you perhaps finding U.S. or U.K. brands that have been on the shelf in Taiwan for too long? If that's a possibility, ask an apothecary for bicarbonate of soda. I really immediately suspect old baking soda when things fall flat. You can test baking soda by putting a small amount in some vinegar. It should immediately start bubbling vigorously. If it doesn't, it's bad. Toll house batters are, I would say, borderline acidic for baking soda, so it can't stand old baking soda or anything too alkaline in the ingredients.

Baking powder - Some toll house recipes use baking powder or both baking powder and baking soda. Baking powder is even more subject to aging than baking soda, which is pretty stable. Test baking powder by adding a bit to hot water. Baking powder includes its own acid, so if it's good, it will bubble when water activates it.

Chocolate - One thing to check. Dutch process cocoa and chocolate is neutral, and baking soda depends on acidity. "Tollhouse" cookies don't normally have chocolate in the batter, aside from the chocolate chips, but if your recipe does, the difference between neutral Dutch cocoa and regular cocoa could block the baking soda.

I don't think there's much else among the ingredients. A unusually alkaline ingredient can block the baking soda's action. That's why I wondered about the limed flour until I saw how may years were involved.


So check the two most obvious, low gluten or mislabeled flour - and known fresh baking soda.
GLC; I was about to write a post to correct a perceived mistake on your part. Thankfully, I re-read your post and found I was in error, rather than you. I had misunderstood what you had written the first time around. I was about to stick my foot deep into my mouth. Glad that didn't happen.

I do have one idea to think about though. Baking soda is a mineral compound, as you stated, bicarbonate of soda. It is alkaline and reacts with acids to release CO2 gas (which leavens the product). As far as I know, it doesn't really get "old", though it make cake up pretty hard from moisture absorption and need to be pulverized back into powder.

Baking powder, on the other hand, as it absorbs moisture from the air, will become neutral over time as the two, normally dry ingredients interact.

But that's all I have. Good job in the explanation of the baking chemistry.

Seeeeeeeya; Chief Longwind of the North
__________________
“No amount of success outside the home can compensate for failure within the home…"

Check out my blog for the friendliest cooking instruction on the net. Go ahead. You know you want to.- https://gwnorthsfamilycookin.wordpress.com/
Chief Longwind Of The North is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 07-13-2012, 03:02 PM   #15
Chef Extraordinaire
 
CWS4322's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jan 2011
Location: Rural Ottawa, Ontario
Posts: 13,466
Here's a link that might interest you.

Secrets to Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies | The Feed
__________________
I've got OCD--Obsessive Chicken Disorder!
https://www.discusscooking.com/forums...les-76125.html
CWS4322 is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Tags
cookies

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is Off
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are Off




All times are GMT -5. The time now is 12:26 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.8 Beta 4
Copyright ©2000 - 2021, Jelsoft Enterprises Ltd.