How to Get the Texture You Want in Your Cookies

cookie textures peanut butter bar sugarCookies are a favorite goodie of just about everyone. And it seems like just about everyone has a different opinion of how cookies should be. Some people like their cookies crisp and delicate. Others prefer a chewy cookie with a thickness that you can sink your teeth into. The conundrum lies in getting the cookies you bake to have the texture you want. The exact same cookie recipe can bake up into two completely different cookies, the flavor will be the same but the texture will be different. How, you ask? The reasons all lie within the variables of ingredients, mixing technique, temperature, and equipment and baking time.

Ingredients
The ingredients you use are extremely, extremely important in achieving your desired cookie. Doing something as small as using baking powder instead of baking soda or using cake flour instead of all-purpose flour can make a huge difference. Even the type of fat you use in your cookie will dramatically affect its outcome. The basic building blocks of most cookies are fat, flour, baking powder and baking soda, sugar, and eggs or other liquid.

Mixing Technique
Cookies are not as delicate as cakes, but mixing still plays an important role. The most important step in cookie mixing is the creaming step. This is the step where the fat and the sugar are whipped together until light colored, smooth and fluffy. This helps to incorporate air into the batter, which you need if you want your baking soda and/or baking powder to work. Another important factor is not to overmix the dough. Once you combine the dry and wet ingredients, mix until just combined and no longer.

Temperature
Do not underestimate the importance of temperature in cookie baking. Cookie dough that is chilled before baking will hold its shape and produce a slightly puffier cookie. Cookie dough that is at room temperature before baking will spread and flatten out while baking. So if you happen to have a very warm kitchen, it's a good idea to refrigerate the dough before you bake it.

Equipment and Baking Time
Different baking sheets and whether you grease the sheets or not will produce different results.
A good baking sheet can make a big difference. Super thin baking sheets will cause the cookie bottoms to cook faster, sometimes resulting in burnt bottoms. Yuck! Insulated baking sheets allow air movement and will help to produce puffier cookies. If you want flat crisp cookies, your best bet is the standard semi-thick baking sheets that are available just about everywhere. If you grease your cookie sheets before baking, it will cause the cookies to spread out more but if you don't grease the sheets you run the risk of the cookies sticking to the sheets and making a big mess. A good and fairly inexpensive solution to this is parchment paper. Its non-stick surface makes for easy cookie removal and yet it doesn't cause the cookies to spread out.

Yes, it is true the longer you bake something the more cooked it will become. Cookies are usually baked from 350 degrees F (175 degrees C) to 400 degrees F (205 degrees C). Since cookies are small they tend to bake fast. A difference in temperature can completely change the amount of time you'll need to bake your cookie. If you want your cookies to be chewy, the trick is to slightly underbake them. If you want them to be crispy, bake them a little longer. The best way to do this is with an accurate oven thermometer, a timer and your watchful eye until you get it all down.

So How Do You Want 'Em?
So now that you know a little bit about what goes into the cookie, how do you combine it all to come up with your favorite winning texture? Just follow these tips to get the cookie you desire. Don't be afraid to mix and match, your ideal might just lie somewhere between all the extremes. Start baking cookies - there's a texture to find!