Out of all the different types of desserts out there that people enjoy baking, there are few that are as beloved and as versatile as a batch of warm, freshly baked, homemade cookies.
Cookies are a dessert that has been around for ages, and over the course of time, there have been countless different variations of cookies that people have created. However, no matter how many different kinds of cookies there are, the base recipes almost always have the same core ingredients.
With this in mind, and given the fact that baking tends to require very precise measurements, a lot of beginner bakers sometimes end up with cookies that don’t turn out as they were supposed to.
Maybe you tried to compensate for other ingredients within the cookie and it messed with the way other ingredients work. Maybe you were ever so slightly off on your measurements, leaving you with cookies that you have no clue what to do with.
There’s even a chance you may have left out an important ingredient. Regardless of what went wrong during the baking process, it will be important for you to make sure that you can recognize what went wrong, what caused the cookies to turn out the way they did, and what you can change the next time you plan on making cookies.
One common problem that people run into is that their cookies end up being too flat.
When a cookie is too flat, it can mean one of a few different things. Flat cookies can still be chewy and soft, but with less volume than you had intended.
Flat cookies can also be dry and brittle, becoming something that resembles a dessert less than traditional cookies do. Depending on the way that your cookies turned out, you might not even want to eat the remaining batch of them.
Before you figure out what you want to do with your remaining cookies, you will want to make sure that you understand what went wrong in the baking process. This will help you learn from your baking mistakes and allow you to make sure that your cookies come out of the oven with the right amount of volume next time.
As with many aspects of baking, there are plenty of reasons why your cookies might end up coming out of the oven with little to no volume.
You will have to have a good idea of what you may have done during the baking process, or what ingredients you may have included (or not included) to get a good idea of what exactly went wrong.
There is also the chance that your cookies may be too flat because the baking sheet was too hot. You will always want to make sure that when you are placing balls of cookie dough on the sheet to go into the oven, that the baking sheet is room temperature or colder. It should not be warm to the touch and it should definitely not be hot enough to affect the cookies.
When you use butter that is too soft, or even completely melted butter, it will cause the cookies to spread out more on the baking sheet. This produces large, flat, and strangely shaped cookies.
When a cookie is using the dough it has to spread out on the sheet, it is going to sacrifice height for width. This also commonly results in cookies that are a bit brittle, as thin cookies will cool more quickly, leaving them dried out.
If you are not using enough flour, then the cookies will not have a leavening agent (or enough of one) to allow the cookie to rise fully. While cookies are usually not comparable to bread, this aspect of baking is.
Just like when you do not use enough yeast in bread, if you do not use enough flour in your cookie dough, the cookie will not have what it needs to create miniature air bubbles inside the cookie, giving it the volume that people love.
Unlike with adding butter that is too soft, the cookie will still remain relatively the same shape that it should be. This leaves you with a thicker, potentially chewy cookie compared to the thin and brittle cookie that a lack of hard butter has.
This means that if you are trying to determine what went wrong during the baking process, you should look at the overall size of the cookies. Cookies that didn’t have the right type of butter will be large and very thin.
Cookies that didn’t have enough flour will be a standard cookie shape, but flat and dense.
Can You Salvage the Cookie Dough?
While you won’t be able to salvage the cookies that just came out of the oven, if you still have the problematic cookie dough on hand, it may not yet be too late for your cookies. Of course, the way you would go about fixing the cookies will depend entirely on what the problem was with them.
If your cookies didn’t have enough solid butter, you will want to start salvaging your cookie dough by placing it in your fridge. You will want to keep the cookie dough in the fridge for between one and two hours to make sure that the butter in the cookie dough has sufficient chance to harden and reach the right consistency for your cookies to turn out right.
From here, you will want to make one or two cookies as a test batch to make sure that they are okay before you use the rest of the cookie dough. This will give you a good idea on whether or not you have fixed the problem.
Again, to prevent the cookies from becoming flat because of the baking sheet, you will want to make sure that the baking sheet is room temperature and no hotter.
If you didn’t have enough flour in your dough, then the way that you would salvage the remaining cookie dough would simply be to add more flour to it. Depending on just how little flour there was in the recipe, you will want to add between one and two full tablespoons of flour to the dough.
Next, you will want to mix the dough up so that all areas of the dough will have the added flour so that there are no cookies that got too much while others got no flour.
Similarly, once you have done this, you will want to place one or two helpings of cookie dough onto a room-temperature baking sheet and see if this fixed the problem. If it did, then you will be ready to work with the rest of your cookie dough.
If not, you can either decide to add more flour or to completely scrap the cookie dough as it is.
What Can You Do Next Time to Fix the Cookies?
Now that you know about how you can attempt to salvage the rest of the cookie dough, you will want to make sure that you know what you can do next time you make cookies to ensure that this doesn’t happen again. There are a couple ways you can prevent this from happening, if you are careful.
First things first, you will always want to make sure that you are using a reliable recipe. If you are using a recipe you found online, consider reading reviews or comments on that recipe.
If there is a considerable number of people who are saying that a certain adjustment helped their cookies, you may want to consider making that adjustment. Doing this will also give you a good idea of whether or not the recipe you are using is to be trusted.
If you are using a recipe that you created yourself, you will want to make sure the proportions of ingredients are correct. There are many places where you can check and make sure that your cookies have the amount of ingredients needed.
While this may not prevent measuring errors or careless mistakes, it is always helpful to have a good recipe to rely on.
To make sure that your butter is not too soft for cookies, you will want to use room temperature butter. Typically, when you take a stick of butter out of a traditional fridge, it will take about 30 minutes for the butter to come to room temperature. This may change if your house is considerably hot or cold.
As for the flour, the most that you can do to prevent this from happening again is simply making sure that your recipe calls for the right amount of flour to make cookies that will rise. You will also want to make sure that any and all measuring tools you are using are accurate.
Finally, you will simply want to double check the measurements when you are adding the flour to the dough.
Finally, you will want to make sure that your baking sheet isn’t too hot when you are making a second or third batch of cookies. If you are working on a time limit or you don’t have spare baking sheets to use, there are ways to cool down baking sheets without warping them.
First, you will want it to lose the majority of its heat by letting it sit out at room temperature for no more than 10 minutes. From there, just run it under cold water and dry it off, allowing it to reach a suitable temperature for your next batch of cookies.
What Can You Do with Flat Cookies?
Now that you know what to do with the rest of your cookie dough as well as future batches of cookies, you may not know what to do with the flat cookies that you already have. If they are so flat that they aren’t as tasty as typical cookies, there are a few things that you can do to make use out of them.
One thing that you could consider, depending on just how flat the cookies are, is using them as the top and bottom parts for an ice cream sandwich.
The taste of the ice cream will often overpower the taste of a cookie that didn’t get enough flour or if the baking sheet was too hot. Plus, ice cream sandwiches with cookies often call for specifically flat cookies to make them easier to hold, turning your flat cookies into a tasty summer treat.
You can also consider crushing and grinding down the cookies into crumbs and using them as a cookie crust for a variety of other foods. From the crust of a cheesecake to pie crust, people use cookie crusts as an alternative to pie crusts whenever they want to add a little bit more flavor to their baked goods.
Plus, even if your cookies don’t taste the best because of how they turned out, doing this can put them to good use where they can become a tasty part of other recipes.
Other baking recipes might call for crushed or ground up cookies to add a little bit of flavor to them. While there are some cookies that are traditionally used in “cookies and crème” flavored desserts, you may want to consider replacing those cookies with the crumbled bits of cookies from your current batch of cookies.
This can leave you with a unique twist on a classic flavor of dessert.
Finally, sometimes crumbled cookies can make the perfect topping on other desserts. Parfaits, ice cream, cake, and more all can benefit from having cookie crumbs decorating the tops. These crumbs will add a little bit of flavor to your dish, but they are more commonly used to add texture to the dessert as well.
There’s a very good reason why people say that cookies are one of the most versatile desserts out there.
Sarah is the founder of Baking Kneads, LLC, a blog sharing guides, tips, and recipes for those learning how to bake. Growing up as the daughter of a baker, she spent much of her childhood learning the basics in a local bakery.