Avoiding the dreaded cookie spread

The first day of fall has barely passed and I’m already looking forward to cookie season.  But truly, is there ever a season that’s not good for cookies?  I think not.  Have you ever spent a half hour or more mixing and scooping cookies only to have them spread all over the pan and end up in a crunchy, stuck, deflated, sad little blotch?  Yeah, me too.  Darn that’s annoying!  Well here’s a little trouble-shooting for ya to get the season rolling.

Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies

Common Causes of Cookie Spread

  1. Creaming the fat and sugars too long.  If you beat too much air into the batter, it can cause them to spread out too much.  Mix it just until blended into a paste using low-medium speed.
  2. Don’t butter or grease your cookie sheets and, if you must, add a thin layer of flour over top the slippery stuff.  Cookies need a surface to “hang on to” during the baking process.  Use ungreased, non-stick cookie sheets, stones or (my favorite) parchment paper.
  3. Your baking temperature  may be too low.  Bake most cookies at 375 or 400 degrees.
  4. Too much baking soda or powder will cause spread. Measure carefully!
  5. High sugar content increases spread, especially granulated sugar.  Fine sugar or confectioner’s sugar decreases spread.  Adding extra sugar to sweeten a recipe can have a consequence.
  6. Batter too thin.  Be sure you’ve added enough flour and if you’ve left out an ingredient like the nuts in chocolate chip cookies, you’ll need to make up the difference in bulk by adding extra chocolate chips or another ingredient.  One caveat- don’t increase amount of oatmeal in a cookie.  Substitute with something else or maybe add a little more flour.
  7. Over-beating at any stage of the recipe can develop too much gluten and cause excessive spreading.

Keep your eyes peeled for other cookie tips in future blogs.

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