"Stuff I Like" Sunday: The Secret to Soft Cookies

I like lots of stuff. And I'll bet you do, too. And maybe - just maybe - we might even like the same kind of stuff! (OMG, will you be my BFF?) So I'm introducing a brand new tradition here at the Frump:

"Stuff I Like" Sunday!*

*insert fanfare here

I know: I normally blog about my crazy kids and their antics, or my (weak) fight against looking like a hot mess. But there's nothing wrong with switching it up, and I figured that throwing in a nugget of wisdom or a valuable tip here and there could never hurt ... right? I may be clueless about many, many some things, but I know what I like. And so every Sunday, until I forget from here on out, I'm going to share something I find super fabulously wonderfully fantastic. It's going to be like a random grab bag of awesomeness: could be a nothing-short-of-miraculous pair of maternity pants, could be the world's most kick-ass recipe for biscuits, but it'll always be something that rocks my socks - and, hopefully, yours too.

So what do I like today? Soft cookies. *drool*

I don't know about you, but I love my cookies soft and chewy (the better to scarf down a few dozen of them in one sitting). I have literally been on a quest for YEARS to find out what makes them come out that way - trying (and often royally screwing up) different methods, recipes, and such. So, without further ado, here are the results of my extensive research - the secrets to soft cookies (and the premier edition of "Stuff I Like" Sunday)!

-Keep your dough very cold! Cold dough spreads less in the oven, leading to a thicker cookie. (If you really want to make sure they don't spread much, rinse your cookie sheet with cold water between batches.)

-Use shortening instead of butter; it also spreads less. If you've gotta have that butter flavor (which I do!), either use butter-flavored shortening or a blend of half shortening/half butter. But use real butter - none of that froufrou margarine or "butter flavored spread" crap!

-Replace part of the white sugar with brown sugar, which has a higher moisture content.

-Replace a portion of your flour with a few tablespoons of cornstarch.

-Separate your eggs and use only the yolks - they hold moisture better. If your recipe calls for two eggs, for example, use three egg yolks instead. (Don't be wasteful, kids - give the whites to your dog for a shiny coat, or smear them all over your face as some sort of protein mask.)

-Make sure your baking soda and/or baking powder is fresh. I know, it seems like a no-brainer, but if you don't bake too often that stuff can sit there in your cabinet and get old.

-Underbake your cookies by a minute or two. They shouldn't look doughy in the middle, but don't wait until they're as brown as you'd like them before taking them out.

-Remove them from the hot cookie sheet ASAP; they'll continue to bake, possibly leading to overbaking, if you let them sit there until they cool.

-If you're unsure of your recipe, you can always bake a "test cookie" beforehand. Just bake one cookie: if it spreads too much, add a teeny bit of flour and chill the dough. If it's too dry, add a little bit of milk (about a teaspoon at a time) to the dough.

-To keep cookies soft, store them in an airtight container with a piece of bread or a slice of apple.

Any tips to add? I'd be happy to hear them! (And if you've got any feedback on the proposed "Stuff I Like" Sunday thing, it'd be great to hear that, too!)

Very excited post-script: You know how I've had really good luck with all my cookies EXCEPT the chocolate chip variety? (If you don't, you can read all about it here.) Well anyway - today's post made me hungry for cookies, so I thought I'd give chocolate chip a go ... again. And as usual, they turned out flat, dark and crispy on the edges and underbaked and clumpy in the middle. WTF?!?

Then it dawned on me: in my efforts to make them chewy, I may have made them too chewy - so much that they didn't stand up to baking. So I tossed in an additional 1/2-cup or so of flour ... and voila! Once again, Betty Crocker's in da houuuuuuse! Woot! Behold the difference: these two cookies are from the same batch. The (pitifully crappy) one on the left is from before I added the extra flour; the (picture-perfect, mouthwatering) specimen on the right is after.

So, long story short (too late, eh?): if you're trying out the soft-cookie tips with the chocolate chip variety, add a little extra flour. I don't have to do this with any other kind of cookie I've tried - ONLY chocolate chip.

Hmm. Who knew?


  1. awesome tips! some I knew, and the first one I did by instinct but didn't know why. Very cool. I like the Sunday twist.

  2. I love the idea of stuff i like sunday

    AND I LURVE soft cookies. The only exception would be those little bitty thin ginger crisps that are hellaciously expensive and so yummy.

  3. Thanks for all the helpful tips. Guess this means I'm going to have to make cookies now! ;)
    Also love "Stuff I Like" Sundays...keep it comin'.

  4. Can I just say YUM? Soft cookies are the only ones I will eat, unless I am in a pinch. Which could be anytime.

  5. The Missus just made me cookies tonight. Flatter than Kate Moss, but they were amazing! I'll have to send her your way for some suggestions! P.S. If its about cooking, just call it Stuff Travis and I like Sundays. I got your back.

  6. The only real way I'll know if they're any good is if you send some to me. My address is...

    Tania (via SITS)

  7. love the idea of stuff i like sunday. and thanks for all the tips for soft cookies too! i hardly ever bake, but now maybe when I do they will at least turn out good

  8. You're a wizard in the kitchen! Must have had a good teacher, huh? ;o) I love the concept of "Stuff I Like Sundays." too!

  9. Between batches I set the cookie sheet in the freezer! Also, I let the dough sit in the fridge for a few hours (best overnight but then I end up eating the dough so win some lose some) before cooking them. Yeah cookies!

  10. *jaw drops open*

    You are now my cooking Yoda! No, no...my COOKIE yoda!!

    I make killer chocolate chips cookies. They taste really, really good but they always come out super flat. I could never figure out why...then I stumbled across THIS work of genius!

    *runs off to make non-paper-thin cookies and eat whole batch...i mean ONE cookie...or TWO...mmmhmm*

    Love your blog!


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