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Cookie Troubleshooting Guide

Burned, pale, and misshapen cookies demystified!

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Chocolate Chip Cookies
Photo by Lara604 [flickr]

If you’re having trouble getting your cookies to come out right, use this handy troubleshooting guide to help determine the problem. Whether it’s the color, texture, or shape, this guide has you covered.

Too Dark: Cookies that are too dark are often due to over baking. This can be caused by an oven that run hot. To combat this problem, check the cookies 5-10 minutes before the recommended baking time is over. If the outer edge of your cookies are too dark yet the center is under baked, try lowering the oven temperature by 25 degrees Fahrenheit. This will bake the cookies slower and allow the center to heat and cook before the edges become overcooked.

Too Pale: This problem is due to the opposite factors of having cookies that are too dark. Try increasing the baking time or increasing the baking temperature by 25 degrees. Every oven runs differently and the recommended baking time and temperature may not be optimal for your oven.

Too Dry or Crumbly: Cookies that are crumbly and do not hold their shape are most often due to over baking or adding too much flour, both of which will reduce the amount of moisture in the cookie. Without a proper moisture ratio, the cookie will not be able to hold together.

Too Doughy: Doughy cookies may be the result of under baking, which prevents enough moisture from evaporating off. If you find the edges of your cookies are fully cooked but the center is still too doughy, reduce the baking temperature and increase the baking time.

Too Tough: Cookies that are too tough are most often the result of over mixed dough. Over mixing the dough allows gluten strands to form, which will create a very tough, chewy dough. Over baking can also sometimes cause a tough cookie because too much moisture evaporates off during baking.

Uneven Shape: Uneven cookies are usually the result of uneven temperatures. This could mean that cold cookie dough was placed in a hot oven and one part of the cookie heats faster than another. Or, cookie dough is placed on a hot baking sheet (when baking multiple batches), which will again cause some parts of the cookie to heat faster than others. Under baking sometimes also causes an uneven shape as the entire cookie is not fully heated and has not completely spread.

Excess Spread: If your cookies turn out much larger and flatter than anticipated, this could be due to placing the cookie dough on a hot baking sheet. This causes the cookies to heat much faster than if they are placed on a cool baking sheet and then placed in a hot oven. Likewise, over baking can increase spread. Certain ingredients also lead to an increased spread, such as butter, white sugar, and all-purpose flour.

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