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You're (not) a tough cookie with a long history....
September 26, 2007 10:37 PM   Subscribe

I have a cookie I would like to eat in my head. So I devised a recipe and made a batch. I didn't get what I wanted. Help me modify this recipe to get what I'm looking for.

I wanted a cookie that is flatter, chewier, yet crispier, and (dare I say it?) greasier than what came out. This is the recipe I devised, how do I change it to get what I want?

1 cup of melted butter
1 cup almond butter (six bucks a cup. Yikes!)
2 cups brown sugar
3 eggs (one too many? yolks only, perhaps?)
2 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder (omit entirely?)
1 tsp vanilla extract (almond extract instead?)
3 cups walnut halves (believe it or not, I'm considering increasing this)

They came out kind of "cakey." How do I get that mouth-feel I'm after? Additionally, I'm open to suggestions as far as modifying the flavor. I'm looking for "robust" dark tastes. Any seasonings you might add? I've considered substituting some of the sugar with molasses, even. Is there an appropriate seasoning to give it some "bite?"
posted by sourwookie to Food & Drink (24 answers total) 19 users marked this as a favorite
 
I'm going to take a stab at this. First, is there is a reason you're using such a large amount of butter? Most cookie recipes I have seen for around this amount of flour would make do with 2 sticks, or around 1 cup of butter. Maybe try 1 stick butter and the same equivalent of almond butter? Also, try using the butter softened instead of melted. Usually when I do cookies, I cream the butter, sugar, eggs, and vanilla together first and then add in the flour gradually with a mixer. I would cut one of the eggs. Keep the baking powder. It's possible you could get away with a little bit less sugar as well. I am making these adjustments based on baking lots of batches of cookies! In other words, these adjustments would be for a more traditional chewy cookie recipe. You'll be looking for a dough that is reasonably thick at the end. Good luck! Tell us how the new test batches come out.
posted by theantikitty at 10:58 PM on September 26, 2007


I would --

-- cream the butter instead of melting it.
-- use a little less almond butter>
-- use less flour.
-- keep the baking powder
-- keep the walnuts as-is, maybe chopping them a bit.

(on preview/reread, what antikitty said).
posted by rossination at 11:01 PM on September 26, 2007


I'm a lousy baker, but I think it seems like you've got too much fat and eggs. I'd cut back on the butter and almond butter, drop the egg ratio, and I would definitely consider cutting the brown sugar with molasses.

I can almost imagine what you must be thinking of--I'm picturing something a little gooey in the middle, but crispy and almost lacey around the edges. I should think you'd need a little baking powder (actually baking SODA might be the thing) to give you a little oomph in the middle of the cookie, but too much would leaven it too high.

Would cloves or allspice or, in a glamorous moment, Chinese Five Spice, be the thing to push the flavor over the edge? I've made snickerdoodles using Five Spice instead of cinnamon and it has been incredible.
posted by padraigin at 11:02 PM on September 26, 2007


I would use one egg, and bread flour instead of (whatever you used). Eggs can make things cakey and puffy. Bread flour has more protein than all purpose or cake flour, so things come out chewier. For a crisper edge, substitute white sugar for some of the brown. I also agree that the butter should be softened, not melted.
posted by oneirodynia at 11:39 PM on September 26, 2007 [1 favorite]


Actually, I'm thinking melted butter would help make them less cakey than softened. So keep melting it.
posted by oneirodynia at 11:41 PM on September 26, 2007


To make them taste more robust, you could try toasting the walnuts, browning some of the flour in a dry skillet, or adding instant espresso powder.
posted by oneirodynia at 11:44 PM on September 26, 2007


Alton Brown did a "Good Eats" episode about chocolate chip cookies where he took the basic recipe from the back of the Nestles pack and showed how to change it in various ways to alter the result.

A bit of Googling comes up with these: the chewy recipe, the puffy recipe, the thin-and-crispy recipe.

Comparing and contrasting them may give you some pointers on what to do.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 12:03 AM on September 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


I'm comparing them now. Here's what I'm seeing:

for thin, he uses all purpose flour
for puffy he uses cake flour
for chewy he uses bread flour

for thin and for chewy he uses butter
for puffy he uses shortening

for thin he uses 1 cup sugar, 1/2 cup brown sugar
for puffy he uses 3/4 cup sugar, 1 cup brown sugar
for chewy he uses 1/4 cup sugar, 1 1/4 cup brown sugar

for thin and for chewy he uses 1 tsp baking soda
for puffy he uses 1 tsp baking powder

for thin he uses 1 egg and 2 ounces of milk
for puffy he uses 2 eggs
for chewy he uses 1 egg and 1 egg yolk

the vanilla, salt, and chips are the same for all of them.

The first and most obvious thing is that you need to be using baking soda instead of baking powder.
All purpose flour is good.
The butter is fine, but cream it, don't melt it.
Brown sugar makes them chewy, but it also seems to work against "thin". I think you need more white sugar, less brown sugar.
And you want to cut way back on the eggs.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 12:14 AM on September 27, 2007 [26 favorites]


By the way, consider the source. Me, I'm a lethal chef.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 12:16 AM on September 27, 2007


I definitely think you should substitute white sugar for the brown. Brown seems to be more hygroscopic. Also, less egg/liquid.

Is the almond butter like peanut butter? Probably cheaper to buy bulk blanched almonds and throw them in the blender.
posted by Good Brain at 12:31 AM on September 27, 2007


Try substituting vegetable oil for the butter.
posted by amyms at 12:36 AM on September 27, 2007


I live in a town where you can't get US-style brown sugar, and a few months ago I had an unbelievable craving for Toll House cookies, so I made my own brown sugar by mixing white sugar with sugar beet molasses (and cut the amount of white sugar in the recipe in general). I think that my brown sugar had quite a bit more molasses in it than commercial brown sugar; probably 10% or more. I also directly substituted baking powder for the baking soda (another ingredient that isn't really available here) which meant that there was comparatively less rising agent in the dough. I made no other recipe changes to the dough.

The cookies that resulted had exactly the qualities you want: they were extremely flat, highly carmelized at the edges, chewy throughout with a "darker" flavor. I'm sure it didn't hurt that I made the chips by chopping up a Lindt semisweet bar! They were unbelievably good, I'm smiling even thinking about them.
posted by Your Time Machine Sucks at 2:11 AM on September 27, 2007


Keep your wet/dry ratio in mind. Cakes should be towards the wet side of the doughs, like .8 to 1.1:1 (wet/dry), and your current ratio fits that: .88:1*. Cookies are generally drier (grease comes later), more towards .5 or .6:1. So add to the dry ingredients to move towards a cookie. The gooey grease, aka moisture, is from all of the oil. By using fats instead of water you should be set there.

My suggestion: 2 cups of flour, probably not traditional flour but something like almond flour, for flavor, or potato flour to hold moisture and increase shelf life. Tweak the baking powder as needed.

* Remember, sugar is considered wet.
posted by jwells at 5:22 AM on September 27, 2007


If you want thin, crispy/chewy cookies, you may be looking for something like a Moravian spice cookie (recipe; retail).

See also: Moravian Black Walnut Cookies (retail)

You could try experimenting with the walnut-free recipe to add walnuts - decrease the fat (butter) slightly when adding a lot of walnuts.

Moravian spice cookies are very very flat. Be prepared for this.

If you want to learn about experimenting with / perfecting cookie dough, and which ingredients and processes affect what qualities, you might do well to check out the cookbook The Best Recipe -- I and others have described it on AskMe several times.
posted by amtho at 5:31 AM on September 27, 2007


Alton Brown did a "Good Eats" episode about chocolate chip cookies where he took the basic recipe from the back of the Nestles pack and showed how to change it in various ways to alter the result.

There is also a chapter on this in Shirley Corriher's Cookwise, which was probably the inspiration for Alton's thing.
posted by smackfu at 5:36 AM on September 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


If you're looking for a deeper flavor, I'd consider tossing increasing the vanilla extract. I'd also toast the walnuts; it'll improve flavor considerably.

Also I'll second what others said about subbing baking soda for baking powder and suggest you ditch an egg. If you want the cookies to be chewier, borrow a technique from Cook's Illustrated's Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe. Instead of your standard two eggs, they use one egg and one egg yolk, which they say tenderizes the cookies. It's a great recipe -- better, in my opinion, than Alton Brown's chewy CC cookie one. They also recommend using melted butter because of how the water in the butter does something scientifically relevant. (I'm so helpful!)

Are you adding salt? You should be, unless the almond butter is salted.

What temperature are you cooking these at?
posted by stonefruit at 6:55 AM on September 27, 2007


Here's the transcript of the aforementioned Good Eats episode, where AB explains the function of some of the ingredients in the recipe variations.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 7:58 AM on September 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


for thin and for chewy he uses butter
for puffy he uses shortening


Also worth noting: for chewy, he melts the butter; for thin, he creams it.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 8:02 AM on September 27, 2007


So what happened with batch #2? Followup, please!

Also, you need to find a cheaper souce of almond butter. $6 per cup? What?
posted by GuyZero at 8:33 AM on September 27, 2007


Check around at different grocery stores for "grind-your-own" almond butter. Here, Fred Meyer's has them (for peanuts and almonds). You could try doing it yourself as mentioned above, but that sounds like a pain. Those grinder machines are heavy duty.
posted by peep at 9:52 AM on September 27, 2007


Thanks guys! I can't wait for batch #2!
posted by sourwookie at 11:13 AM on September 27, 2007


What you're describing reminds me of the vinegar cookies my mom makes, although she leaves out the walnuts.
posted by thejanna at 11:23 AM on September 27, 2007


When you make your new batch, will you post the recipe and tell us how it turned out?
posted by croutonsupafreak at 8:52 PM on September 27, 2007


In addition to all of the above, chill your dough, then flatten it when you put it on the cookie sheet, this should help you get thin but chewy cookies.

You could also add a tad bit of cocoa butter, not based on anything but a guess, but I think it'd help give you the texture you want.
posted by anaelith at 9:13 AM on September 28, 2007


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