01 May 2006

Cookie Dilemma

When I was young I learned how to cook. I still remember the first thing I ever baked on my own. I made banana bread all by myself when I was eight. Every Thursday afternoon I walked down the road and had tea with an elderly couple (Uncle Greg and Aunt Jo). They were Canadian. Aunt Jo taught me how to make cookies. I especially remember that she taught me how to dip a fork into flour and make the criss-cross in peanut butter cookies. Uncle Greg would take me home at dinner time when he went to "the store" to get the mail. Our post office was attached to the General Store. He taught me to beep an "R" in Morse Code when we passed my house on the way to the store. Then he dropped me off on the way back. "R" is short-long-short (in case you care). They also taught me how to play cribbage and how to use "as" properly instead of "like." There was an ad campaign for a cigarette at the time that said, "such and such tastes good like a cigarette should." That was offensive to them because it should have read "tastes good as a cigarette should." And then they would add, "But really, cigarettes shouldn't be advertised."

In any case, Aunt Jo taught me how to make cookies. I've made many cookies for many years since then. My favorites have always been Nestle's Toll House cookies ... made with the real Toll House chips and real butter. Yum! No walnuts please ... they make my mouth hurt. I like nice thick cookies, that stay sort of moist, but not too much. You have to eat them with milk.

Here's my dilemma. I've made these cookies for years now and never had a problem. But then several years ago, they started coming out all wrong. I'd put my cookies in the oven and they'd spread out all over the pan. The cookies would be too thin, I couldn't get them off the pan, and when they cooled off they were as hard and tough as bricks. Yuck. I've tried everything. I've used only Crisco. Only butter. A mix of Crisco and butter. I've used expensive flour ... cheap flour. Brand new baking soda. Old baking soda. New salt. Old salt. Baking stones. Metal baking pans. Baking parchment. I've tried a cooler oven, I've tried a hotter oven. I've tried every trick I know of and still I get the same result. So I finally gave up and I just don't make my favorite cookie anymore. It's just too frustrating.

Tonight my sister-in-law called. The LightHusband's sister. She has about as much cooking experience as I do. She said, "So ... lately, like the past couple of years, when I make chocolate chip cookies they come out hard as rocks and really thin. Do you have any ideas about what I can do for that?" Nope.

Anybody? ... Anybody? ... Buehler?


Blogger Mike Croghan said...

When I was in 7th grade home-ec class, I learned to make a mean oatmeal raisin cookie. Let's face it - oatmeal raisin is about as far as you can get from cookie royalty without being a sugar cookie - but these were genuinely yummy. Moist, nice texture, and just sweet enough. I made them through high school, and my family always loved them - and I'm pretty sure they weren't just humoring me. (My brother wouldn't do that - I know that much.) That was my cookie golden age.

Since I moved out of my parents' house, I have never once made a decent batch of cookies. Not chocolate chip, not chocolate chocolate, and not oatmeal raisin. So I don't know what to tell you, sister. I lost it way before you did.

Maybe we should stick to brownies and blondies. They're harder to screw up, or so it seems.

5/01/2006 10:57:00 PM  
Blogger Deanna said...

I would blame global warming.

(Seriously, there's got to be some line of reasoning that says global warming affects the barometric pressure, which would change the way a recipe turns out, just the way altitude does, right?)

5/02/2006 09:38:00 AM  
Blogger Scott said...

do you think perhaps that you copied the recipe down incorrectly somehow? It sounds to me like there's something wrong in the recipe, like not enough flour or too much baking soda.

5/02/2006 11:04:00 AM  
Blogger Maggie said...

You could start with the recipe on the bag and then change it from there so it's more like your favorite recipe. The recipe on the bag is really good.

5/02/2006 11:36:00 AM  
Blogger aBhantiarna Solas said...

Actually, I've been using the same recipe for years and it's the one on the bag. So ... thanks for the tips. But, I've already been down those rabbit trails. I am going to try again tho tomorrow. Just for the heck of it and to get frustrated all over again.

Really what I'm going to do is make oatmeal cookies and put in dried cherries, chocolate chips and pecans. That's a new favorite of mine. YUM.

5/02/2006 12:40:00 PM  
Blogger Liz said...

OK, I know I'm about to state the obvious and with all your years of cooking I'm sure you thought of this (or you never did it in the first place) but it never hurts to check. So here goes... Do you grease your cookie sheet? You're not supposed to grease the pan when maing toll house cookies.

I had one other idea... this is a bit far fetched, but what the heck... I wonder what would happen if you put the floor in a warm oven for a few hours before baking? It sounds to me like there is too much moisture of fat in the dough. You know how butchers some times add water to meat so you pay more and get less... I wonder if the floor manufacturers aren't adding something to the floor to increase profits. Maybe if it were dried out a bit before use maybe it would work better.

5/02/2006 03:55:00 PM  
Blogger kate said...

More flour, I'd say.
Try about 1/4 cup more flour, and take them out sooner than you think you should.
Did it happen after you moved to the new house? Irrelevant, since you've already tried adjusting the heat -- just curious.

5/02/2006 04:41:00 PM  
Blogger kate said...

I thought of something else last night. Do you soften the butter in any way? Or, any way besides letting it sit out? I sometimes try to nuke it, just a little, because I forget to let it sit out, and I think that messes me up. You're making me want to try a batch sometime soon! I haven't been nailing my cookies like I like 'em recently, either.

5/03/2006 10:56:00 AM  

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