Not Martha

daily photo: Feb. 28th

cookie dough scooped and ready to freeze

I made a batch of chocolate chip cookies from the NY Times recipe that everybody was going crazy over a few years ago, myself included. Despite weighing all the ingredients I appear to have halved the flour or doubled the butter or something because this batch spreads like crazy. Is there a way to add more flour to cookie dough once the chocolate chips are are mixed in? I’m assuming not since the new flour wouldn’t be coated in butter the way it’s supposed to, and there would be a lot of overmixing of the flour. Oh well, these are yummy but not very pretty. Here I’ve scooped them onto a cookie sheet to freeze individually so I can bake one or two at a time.

· comments [22] · 02-28-2011 · categories:dailyphoto · food · recipes ·

22 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Lynn in Tucson // Feb 28, 2011 at 7:56 pm

    Nope, same here. Both those and the Momofuku cookies made the hugest mess for me. My husband has become the cookie baker in this house, however (I’ve abdicated completely after those last two debacles) and he plays pretty fast and loose with his dough. If it looks too wet, he adds more flour (or breakfast cereal) and it always works out.

  • 2 megan // Feb 28, 2011 at 8:00 pm

    I’ve made these a few times before and they’ve come out spectacular. This can only lead me to make more cookies in the interest of figuring out what I did wrong.

  • 3 dan // Feb 28, 2011 at 8:18 pm

    Too funny. I made a batch a few weeks ago and am right now baking one of the half dozen or so that I froze. It’s cooling. … Any. minute. now.

  • 4 Nathalie // Feb 28, 2011 at 8:19 pm

    Freezing might just be your best solution. Sometimes the temperature in your kitchen while you’re making the dough can have an effect on your dough too.

  • 5 Meghan // Feb 28, 2011 at 8:49 pm

    So strange – every link I find (including the one you posted above) encrypts the NY Times page, or other pages featuring the recipe. But I found one blogger who actually wrote it out on her post so I copied and pasted it into a Word doc for myself. Anyone else have this issue?

    I’ve had cake flour in my cupboard for a few months without a recipe to use it in. This is my golden opportunity!

  • 6 Delora // Feb 28, 2011 at 8:54 pm

    Is your baking soda fresh?

  • 7 McAuliflower // Feb 28, 2011 at 9:25 pm

    you know- that’s funny cause I have the same inexplicable problem with these cookies too.

    Freshness of ingredients checked, refrigeration time given, and half the time they spread something awful.

    If a batch turns out to be spreaders- I save them in the freezer to eat raw.

  • 8 Tracey // Feb 28, 2011 at 9:28 pm

    I must have missed this particular recipe rage when it happened, but I am bookmarking it now because I am intrigued by the idea of letting the dough set for 36 hours. Reminds me of when they say to let ice cream mix cool overnight in the fridge before churning.
    Aged cookie dough. Yum.

  • 9 Samantha // Feb 28, 2011 at 10:53 pm

    You may want to invest in a good oven thermometer. They are pretty cheap. Having the oven at full temp well before putting cookies in keeps them from spreading because the crispy crust forms faster.

  • 10 Shelley // Feb 28, 2011 at 11:09 pm

    I have added extra flour to too soft/too spread-y dough and it works. I assume that it’s not the best practice, but it didn’t destroy my cookies; it just made them more firm.

  • 11 megan // Mar 1, 2011 at 12:09 am

    Meghan – I don’t have any trouble seeing the page, sorry that you do! I’m glad you tracked down the recipe though.

    Delora – It is, Bob’s Red Mill good through July.

    McAuliflower – Glad to know it’s not just me. A friend suggested that it was my butter, I didn’t use fancy-pants Irish butter this time.

    Tracey – I did a bunch of batches and did a tasting of aged and non-aged dough and, surprise, the cookies spread too much that time too. I think the aged dough did have a more caramel flavor to it though.

    Samantha – I have a nice Taylor thermometer in there and had preheated the over and it was held at the right temperature, 350, for a while before I put them in. So, yeah, it wasn’t that. But oven temp is important so thanks for the note.

    Shelley – Good to hear, thanks! Next time I’ll try that, while I’m liking the spread-y cookies I think Scott prefers ones that are a bit chewier.

  • 12 Seanna Lea // Mar 1, 2011 at 1:19 am

    When I made these I had the greatest spreading if I placed them straight on the cookie sheet (regardless of how much time they were in the fridge/freezer), followed by parchment and the least spreading with a silpat. I now use the silpat whenever I want my cookies to stay mostly cookie shaped!

  • 13 Kirsten // Mar 1, 2011 at 5:59 am

    When I have extra cookie dough, I use it to make cookie dough ice cream (I’m OK with eating the raw eggs, though–I’m not sure if freezing makes them safe?) Just make plain vanilla ice cream (I like the Perfect Scoop recipe) but use brown sugar instead of white, and mix in small chunks of dough at the end. So good!

  • 14 Peaches // Mar 1, 2011 at 6:58 am

    I’m so glad you posted this –I had the same results. Spread like crazy. I was so peeved! Everyone was raving about this recipe and I was stuck eating cookie soup.
    Maybe I made the same too-much-butter blunder, but I am inclined to think we should just stick to the recipe on the back of the bag :)

  • 15 Hilary // Mar 1, 2011 at 10:12 am

    I’ve had the spreading issue with these, too. The last time, my modifications worked well:

    Refrigerate the dough for 24 hours before baking (I love this anyway, making dough + cookies on the same night is a total time-suck.)

    Butter the parchment paper. Cooking spray has disastrous results.

    Scoop pretty small cookies. “Heaping tablespoons” will spread like mad. I would say mine were between 2 tsp. and 1 leveled tbsp.

    Do NOT get cookie sheets ready to go into the oven (with cookie dough scooped onto them) in advance. It should go straight from the fridge to the sheet to the oven. Any room temp time invites serious spreading. I usually pop 2 sheets in the oven for 5 minutes, rotate/swap shelves once, then bake for 5 more minutes. Somewhere around minute 8 I prep the next 2 sheets. And of course, make sure your cookie sheets are cool before you load them up with dough.

    I had really good luck freezing these (in prepped dough balls, of course). They came out perfectly, even though I’m pretty sure I scooped bigger chunks of dough than I had intended. I think that the colder you can keep the cookies before they go in, the less likely they are to spread.

    Regardless of spread, even when I think they look terrible, I get rave reviews. These are the most popular cookies I’ve ever made. :)

  • 16 Felicity // Mar 1, 2011 at 10:35 pm

    Did you melt the butter? Cause that will cause spreading if the recipe doesn’t call for it.

    Try chilling them if you know you’ve got the right amount of each ingredient.

    Of course you can add flour. Just mix it in. It’s going in the same bowl and these are just cookies, there’s no special flour timing with cookies ;)

  • 17 Felicity // Mar 1, 2011 at 10:39 pm

    And dont ever butter, spray, etc your pan for cookies. Use parchment paper or a silpat. Using butter is like greasing yourself in crisco and then going down the slide at the park, you’re going to slide faster, greased pan and the cookies will slide and spread faster.

  • 18 Felicity // Mar 1, 2011 at 10:42 pm

    Omg so sorry to post three times but I just read the recipe. When using such light flours you have to follow the chilling directions. Did you chill for 24 hours?

  • 19 gryph // Mar 2, 2011 at 11:15 pm

    Fix them nothing! When they spread to much and get all chewy..not hard, not cakey, just sort of sticky chewy? Those are how the best chocolate chip cookies should be! Sounds like a delicious mistake to me!

  • 20 Alicia // Mar 4, 2011 at 2:25 pm

    It’s possible the dough wasn’t mixed enough for your preferences. Leaving the mixer running longer makes the cookies come out thicker and more cakey.

  • 21 megan // Mar 4, 2011 at 2:27 pm

    Alicia – Hm, I hadn’t considered this. The recipe calls for the usual final mixing until things just come together, but I hadn’t thought that I actually didn’t leave enough time for gluten to form. Thanks!

  • 22 Nicole Maki // Mar 5, 2011 at 10:29 am

    When trying a new cookie recipe I always bake about 4 cookies to see if they’re okay. If they spread too much I add in a tablespoon or so of flour to the remaining dough and bake four more until I get it right. Then I make note of the changes for the next time I use the recipe. It always works for me.

    This is a great system for meatballs too. Bake up a few, see if they’re seasoned properly, adjust as needed and then cook the rest.

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