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Help with chocolate chip cookies

billmeister's picture

I hope some one can offer some advice.  My daughter and I made some chocolate chip cookies from the recipe off the back of the Nestle's bag.  They turned out as flat as a pancake, and weren't too good.  I'm sure I followed the directions, and I'm wondering what I did wrong.  These are for a class project, so they have to look and taste like like something from a magazine ad.  Any tips?


GShock's picture

(post #33741, reply #1 of 41)

I have found that I have the most success if I make sure that I have fresh flour, and soda. Also, I use crisco instead of butter or margerine, but if you don't like crisco...then definitly go with Butter over margerine.


Jean's picture

(post #33741, reply #2 of 41)

Chilled dough, bake on parchment -- should help.

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Canuck's picture

(post #33741, reply #3 of 41)

I'm with Jean; if the batter is warm it melts quickly and you'll have a flat cookie. Parchment helps too. You may want to confirm the flour measurement too.

billmeister's picture

(post #33741, reply #4 of 41)

Thanks for the responses. So in your opinion, does the Nestle Toll House recipe work?  Do I need to refrigerate the dough for an hour?  A half hour?  Also, how much dough should I allow for 1 cookie?  When we made them, everything kind of blended together.  What kind of baking sheet should I use?  I have black non-stick and regular aluminum.  I hope you don't mid the basic questions - I know some of the topics on this forum are much more advanced.


Thanks again..

MadMom's picture

(post #33741, reply #5 of 41)

Hi, billmeister, and welcome to CT.  I think you need to check your soda to be sure it's fresh.  Also, chill the dough as suggested.  Would not use a black pan, personally.  No question is too basic; I've asked a lot of them, myself.  As far as the Nestle Toll House Cookie recipe goes, I've made it many times and like it.

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chiquiNO's picture

(post #33741, reply #13 of 41)

ITA with MM

Chiqui from way down yonder in New Orleans


jaq's picture

(post #33741, reply #16 of 41)

They were the first chocolate chip cookies I ever had, and they are my favorites, due to tradition.

PPH's picture

(post #33741, reply #6 of 41)

Let me preface this by saying I am ALL FOR homemade anything - going the extra mile is always worth it to me.  ... but, I have to admit, that those Nestle Break Apart chocolate chip cookies are just as good as the homemade kind (if using their recipe).  Try those - seriously, they're good. 

My sister was making them last year and I was prepared for them to be nasty and taste "fake" but they weren't.  I like the ones with pecans in them.  BTW, they're the kind in the flat package - not in the roll.


"Forgive your enemies, but never forget their names."  ... J.F.K.


"Forgive your enemies, but never forget their names."  ... J.F.K.

PPH's picture

(post #33741, reply #7 of 41)

Now, to answer your questions:

Yes, the Nestle recipe does work.  .. not saying it's the best chocolate chip cookie recipe out there, but it does work and it's popular.

Refrigerating your dough - that will help with the "flat" problem, even 30 minutes will help.

I'd invest in a tablespoon size cookie scoop to scoop them out - that way they're all uniform in size.  .. but a nice rounded tablespoon size is nice.  Make sure you put them on the pan about 2 inches apart and maybe even 3 just to be safe.  (until you get the hang of how big to make your dough balls by sight)

You'll get lots of opinions on the best type of baking sheet but my personal preference is a good quality, heavy-duty, solid half sheet pan made of aluminum.  I'd invest in several of these if you don't already have them.  .. and use either parchment paper or silpat pads.

I hope this helps you but feel free to ask if you have other questions.  Also, I found this web site for you - this should also help you out:

Happy cookie baking!


"Forgive your enemies, but never forget their names."  ... J.F.K.


"Forgive your enemies, but never forget their names."  ... J.F.K.

Risottogirl's picture

(post #33741, reply #12 of 41)

It definitely works. I think it is the only chocolate chip cookie recipe I have ever used.

I am not a cookie person, but that's what I make when I do. That or old fashioned pb cookies.

Water is a great ingredient to cook with, it has such a neutral flavor

Bobby Flay

Water is a great ingredient to cook with, it has such a neutral flavor - Bobby Flay

collwen's picture

(post #33741, reply #14 of 41)

Only one I've ever used and we love it.  We only use butter.  Is your oven temperature accurate?

BoofyQ's picture

(post #33741, reply #17 of 41)

You can do 50-50 butter and crisco to get a "taller" cookie too. And make sure the butter isn't too warm. You should be able to bend the unwrapped stick without it breaking, but without it mushing between your fingers.

The cookie scoop (like a small ice cream scoop) is great because it's FAST and neat, but you can make them with two dinner spoons too -- I like my cookies to be a heaping tablespoon. (pick up dough with one spoon, the scrape it off onto the pan with the 2nd spoon)

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DoughGrl's picture

(post #33741, reply #18 of 41)

I use the Nestle recipe, but tweaked.  First, as others have already said, cold dough is really important.  When I make choc chip cookies, I chill it for an hour at the very least.  Also, I like these soft and chewy, so I use bread flour instead of regular, I melt the butter, use all brown sugar instead of white and brown, and use 1 egg and 1 yolk instead of the 2 eggs.  (Alton Brown did a show a few years ago where he told you how to modify the Tollhouse recipe to get either a crisp or chewy etc. cookie.)  I'm semi-famous in my little family for these, so they must be ok.  :)  I also sometimes like to sub toffee bits for some of the chips, and I prefer mini semisweet chips to the bigger ones.  (Just a personal preference.)  Good luck!

billmeister's picture

(post #33741, reply #19 of 41)

Wow, thanks to all for the great feedback.  As I mentioned in my first post, this is a school project with my daughter.  We want to bake cookies, and then alter the amount of ingredients added, and then record the results.  So we will have the control batch, and then batch 2 will have, for example, twice as many eggs.

I thought we could take pictures of the results and measure the average size cookie in each batch, and then rank the batches on taste and appearance.  When I was a kid, my mom used to bake ccc's all the time, and they were always perfect.  So, in the name of science, I think I am going to pass on the Nestle's version.  I have nothing against flat cookies, but they are harder to measure.  As some one mentioned, Alton Brown has 3 versions of the same basic recipe.  I think we will try these this weekend.  I will definitely incorporate your suggestions.  The cold dough/ cold pan thing doesn't make sense, but I am going to give it a shot. 

Thanks again for all the help!


KitchenWitch's picture

(post #33741, reply #20 of 41)

the cold dough does make sense - if you have room temp butter and you put it in the oven, it's going to melt quickly and spread. If you have cold dough (ergo, cold butter) the cookie has time to set some structure before all the butter melts. clear as mud?

and from a non scientific standpoint, CCCs taste better if the dough is allowed to age over night in the fridge. That's one of the secrets of Debbie Fields.

I used the Tollhouse recipe for years, with 1/2 butter and 1/2 shortening with fine results.  I've recently switched to Abby Dodge's recipe from The Weekend Baker. I like it better, but I like a flat, chewy cookie. Thus melted butter and more brown sugar.

the Alton Brown breakdown is a great way to compare how slightly varied ingredients (and prep) result in a very different product.


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Fogbound1's picture

(post #33741, reply #23 of 41)

This is chocolate chip cookie "season."  For years, I've made cookies for the basketball teams my daughter played on or coached.  I use half butter and half Crisco.  The trans-fat free version is even better than the original.  I also use half whole wheat flour.  I've got to try that bread flour idea for the next game. 

voiladesserts's picture

(post #33741, reply #39 of 41)

All of the suggestions have been great, especially refrigerating the dough. However in my experience, (which has been vast, I'm the CC cookie queen in my circles), I have found different ovens bake differently. I made the same cookie recipe in my oven (which turns them flat, without cooling)and then baked in a Viking professional oven. WOW! what a difference. Puffy and chewy, possitively perfect! Since then I have tried baking at different levels in my oven. Noticed some differences. You might try playing around with the levels. Good Luck

mer's picture

(post #33741, reply #8 of 41)

The Nestle recipe is for a flat cookie, not a thick cakey cookie.  I happen to like this type of cookie but if you were looking for something domed in the center, this isn't the recipe for you..

PPH's picture

(post #33741, reply #10 of 41)

That's how I like my cookies, too - flat.


"Forgive your enemies, but never forget their names."  ... J.F.K.


"Forgive your enemies, but never forget their names."  ... J.F.K.

AmyElliesMom's picture

(post #33741, reply #9 of 41)

Use bread flour, too. That's an idea I got from Alton Brown, and his recipe makes THE best cookies.

I use *gasp* Crisco sticks when I do cookies. The butter flavor is trans fat free, and they have a trans fat free version, but it can be hard to find (I've heard).

Bread flour will give you a chewy cookie, btw. If you want a crispy cookie, use regular flour and butter.


Save the Earth! It's the only planet with wine and chocolate.


Save the Earth! It's the only planet with wine and chocolate.

PPH's picture

(post #33741, reply #11 of 41)

I'm glad you mentioned the bread flour tip - that's something I've never heard of.  I have a friend who haaaates crispy or flat cookies and I'll mention this to her.  Thank you!


"Forgive your enemies, but never forget their names."  ... J.F.K.


"Forgive your enemies, but never forget their names."  ... J.F.K.

beebuzzled's picture

(post #33741, reply #15 of 41)

A past issue of FC has recipes for chewy and thick vs. thin and crisp chocolate chip cookies in it. One of the tips to keep them thick and chewy is to use butter straight out of the fridge. If you like, I can try to find the issue it's in.


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gourmand's picture

(post #33741, reply #21 of 41)

Good article by Shirley O. Corriher

We all love great cookies. But cookies can drive us crazy. They can be too crumbly or pitifully pale. They can stick to the baking sheet like cement. They can spread all over the place. Then there is the question of the soft, puffy cookie vs. the flat, crisp cookie. Sometimes we want one kind and sometimes we want the other. How can we control the kind of cookie we get? Let's work our way through the issues, one at a time.

Even experienced cookie bakers have told me they have sent wonderful cookies to their grandchildren, only to have them arrive as nothing but crumbs. This one is easy to solve. When the baker adds a little water to flour and stirs, two proteins in the flour grab water and each other and join to form springy, elastic sheets of gluten. This gluten holds baked goods together. So to help prevent cookies from crumbling, what we need is a little gluten.

By nature, cookies don't contain much gluten. This is because when we mix fat with flour (cookies normally have a lot of fat), the fat greases the proteins so that they can't grab water or each other to make gluten. But there is an easy solution. All we have to do is stimulate a little gluten in the flour before we add the fat.


Here's how. For a cookie recipe containing 1 to 2 cups of flour, take 1 cup flour from the total in the recipe and sprinkle 1 tablespoon water over it. Stir the flour briefly and then add it to the other ingredients as directed in the recipe. There will be a few lumps, but don't worry about them. They will disappear when the ingredients are combined. The more water that is added, the stronger the cookie will become.

Maybe the cookies taste great but are unappetizingly pale. What can we do? Proper browning requires three things: protein, nonacidic conditions and a certain type of sugar. We can increase the protein in the cookies by switching to a higher protein flour such as bread flour or unbleached flour.

But another, perhaps easier solution is to add 1 teaspoon of corn syrup. Corn syrup is glucose, the sugar that enhances browning. So we can make cookies dramatically browner just by adding 1 teaspoon of corn syrup to the batter.

One reason baked goods don't brown well is that they are too acidic. Light-colored loaves of sourdough bread are a good example. The pale hue occurs because the batter is very acidic. To reduce the acidity in cookies, many recipes contain abnormally high amounts of baking soda. The soda is not added as a leavening agent but to reduce the acidity and, thus, increase browning. The type of sugar used also helps determine cookie crispness. Cookies made with honey or brown sugar will become soft the next day because both honey and brown sugar contain fructose, a sugar that absorbs water from the air. (Conversely, cookies made with regular granular sugar tend to stay crisp.)

Some cookie recipes advise us not to grease the baking sheet. That is in part because some cooks think not greasing the sheet will limit the spread. This is not true.

The spread is controlled by the thickness of the batter and the type of fat in the cookies. To prevent sticking, spray the baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray or line it with foil that has a nonstick coating on one side (Reynolds Wrap release foil is one example) or a nonstick baking sheet liner such as Silpat. I love the release foil. I can bake a tray of cookies, pull the foil off the baking sheet and place it, along with the cookies, on a cooling rack. That leaves my baking sheet free for another batch.

If the baking sheet is greased, when cookies are first removed from the oven they will tear when we try to remove them. But 1 to 2 minutes later they will have partially set. This is the ideal time to lift them from the baking sheet. Wait 10 minutes and the cookies will be more difficult to remove. With an ungreased baking sheet, the cookies might become cemented to the sheet if they have not been removed at the ideal time of 2 minutes.

Cookie spread is another issue that perplexes even experienced bakers. This, too, is easy to control. When we put cookies made with butter in a hot oven, the butter melts and the cookies spread. But butter-flavored shortening stays solid over a wide range of temperatures. So when cookies are made with all or part butter- flavored shortening, the shortening does not immediately melt and the cookies hold their shape.

The kind of liquid in the cookie batter - water (maybe only the water in the butter) or eggs - also influences cookie spread. In the Lava Cookies that follow, the eggs set and prevent the all-butter and high cocoa butter (in the chocolate) dough from spreading too thin. The eggs also produce a crisp meringuelike surface while the chocolate center remains soft.

he other major contributor to spread is thickness of batter. If the batter is firm, the cookies will not spread as much. Batters with more moisture will spread more. The batter of Laura's Extra Crunchy Oatmeal Cookies (recipe follows) is very stiff and shortening is the fat, so the cookies don't spread and become thin.






Flour also can be a factor in soft and puffy vs. flat and crisp. If we want soft, puffy cookies, use cake flour, which is acidic and will help limit spread. We also can use butter-flavored shortening and egg for the liquid. All-purpose flour mixed with all butter and a little baking soda can produce flat, crisp cookies.

Try out the preceding tips with one or both of the two accompanying cookie recipes. You might find you have more control than you thought. Food scientist Shirley O. Corriher is author of CookWise: The Hows and Whys of Successful Cooking, (William Morrow, 1997

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billmeister's picture

(post #33741, reply #22 of 41)

Thanks Gourmand for the email, and thanks to everyone else for chiming in.  I have another question, in preparation for this weekend's baking extravaganza.  Has anyone made the Alton Brown cookies?  How do they taste and look?  Also, regarding amount of dough  per cookie, would you suggest a 1 inch ball?  The whole point of the project is to see and taste a difference between batches.

Thanks again...

AmyElliesMom's picture

(post #33741, reply #24 of 41)

I've made them, and I think they are the perfect cookie. I don't eat or make cookies often, so I have very high expectations of my cookies.

His recipe produced thick, chewy, soft (but not too soft) wonderful cookies. Even when I used Splenda for Baking! And that's saying something.

I used a 1 ounce cookie scoop for my cookies; I highly recommend picking one up at Target or Wally World for your project. It will make go a lot faster and be so much more fun!


Save the Earth! It's the only planet with wine and chocolate.


Save the Earth! It's the only planet with wine and chocolate.

PPH's picture

(post #33741, reply #25 of 41)

Speaking of cookie scoops - I've heard a lot of people complain that theirs don't last long.  Mine have held up well over the years (knocking on wood) --- just wondering if anyone else has had problems with theirs not holding up?  


"Forgive your enemies, but never forget their names."  ... J.F.K.


"Forgive your enemies, but never forget their names."  ... J.F.K.

Adele's picture

(post #33741, reply #26 of 41)

I'm on my 2nd or 3rd year with the larger one and it's like brand new.  Yes, I do use it.

But, but, it's SUPPOSED to taste like that!

But, but, it's SUPPOSED to taste like that!

mishmish's picture

(post #33741, reply #27 of 41)

The first "cookie scoop" I had didn't last long. It was a kithen department cheapie. Then I went to a restaurant supply and got several stainless steel dishers in different sizes and they have lasted for years.

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AmyElliesMom's picture

(post #33741, reply #28 of 41)

Mine's from a rest. supply store, and it's like brand new. It gets a workout a few times a year, but I don't use it weekly or anything.

Maybe once every few months, then once a week around the holidays.


Save the Earth! It's the only planet with wine and chocolate.


Save the Earth! It's the only planet with wine and chocolate.

wonka's picture

(post #33741, reply #29 of 41)

I've had mine for years. I have young children (age 11) so it gets a pretty regular workout.