Cookie Recipes: How and Why to Modify Them

Cookie recipes can be easily modified. When you understand how cookie ingredients work in dough, you can make a few adjustments to a recipe so that it suits your taste.

Why Tweak a Recipe?

To reproduce cookie texture. Ovens, ingredients, and conditions vary from kitchen to kitchen. What may work well for The Elf may be different for you. You may need to make some slight recipe adjustments as compared with the original to get the taste and texture you prefer.

To convert a recipe. Perhaps you adore a certain cake flavor. You can adapt cake batter ingredients slightly, converting it to cookie dough.

To improve a cookie. Even a tiny tweak can make a good cookie even better.

How to Improve a Cookie Recipe

Cookie dough is much more forgiving than cake batter. Everyone wants a light and moist cake, so the formula for getting that cake just right is quite specific.

Cookies, on the other hand, can be chewy, crispy, cake-like, crunchy, fluffy, thin, or thick. With cookies, the variations are endless. Most any recipe can be adjusted to give you a different texture and the outcome you desire.

As you may have already learned from The Elf, key ingredients in cookies are butter, sugar, flour, and eggs. By adjusting key ingredients – either in amounts or in how they are prepared – you can change the texture of any cookie.

To Make Chewier Cookies

  • Melt the butter in your recipe. Butter is 20 percent water. Melting helps water in butter mix with flour to form gluten.

  • Use margarine rather than butter.

To Make Thinner Cookies

Add more sugar. Sugar becomes fluid in the oven and helps cookies spread, producing an almost candy-like texture.

To Make Cakier Cookies

  • Add more eggs. Yolks make dough richer and whites cause cookies to puff and dry out.

  • Beat eggs one at a time into the recipe to produce higher, cakier cookies.

To Make Coarsely-Topped Cookies

Add baking soda. This leaven reacts quickly with acidic ingredients (such as brown sugar) to create gas bubbles, leading to an open, coarse texture.

To Make Smooth-Topped Cookies

Add baking powder, which works slowly and allows for an even rise giving cookies a fine, smooth top and tight crumbs.

To Make Cookies With More Spread

Bake cookies immediately after mixing the dough. This prevents flour from expanding too much moisture from the butter and eggs, thereby letting the dough spread outward rather than upward.

To Make Cookies With Less Spread and More Height

Chill cookie dough up to six hours prior to baking it. This allows the flour to absorb moisture from the eggs and butter, yielding more volume.

To Make Cookies at High Altitude

The higher the altitude, the less leavening agent needed in the dough. High altitudes have less air pressure, which allows them to rise more easily. If you live in higher elevations, reduce baking soda and baking powder called for in a recipe. If elevation is over 6600 feet, consider eliminating leavening agent altogether.


More Baking Cookies How-Tos

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