This is topic Cookie question for experienced cooks in forum Books, Films, Food and Culture at Hatrack River Forum.

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Posted by Uprooted (Member # 8353) on :
I made the following cookie recipe (would copy out here but don't want to violate copyright):

Zucchini Chocolate Chip Cookies

I want to play with it a bit but thought I'd ask you folks who understand the chemistry of baking before I try it.

First of all, I liked the flavor of the cookie but thought that the chocolate drowned it out, so I'm going to make it with raisins and nuts instead of chocolate chips this time.

But the cookies are very soft and cakey. So my real question is, is there something I can do to make it crispier--or is zucchini in the dough going to make it soft no matter what?

I was thinking of swapping white sugar for honey (although that would probably affect the lovely flavor for the worse) and adding oats. What do eggs do in the cookie? If I added an egg, how would that affect the texture?

Thanks in advance for any feedback.
Posted by Puffy Treat (Member # 7210) on :
White sugar tends to make cookies -more- tender.
Posted by theCrowsWife (Member # 8302) on :
Did you substitute margerine for the butter? If so, using butter next time will make them slightly more crispy textured.

Zucchinis have a fairly high water content, so I don't know how much you could do to make the cookies crisper. Perhaps you could dehydrate the shredded zucchini a little bit by spreading it out on a cookie sheet in a warm oven? (Or use a food dehydrator if you have one). I don't know how it would affect the flavor, but the texture would probably become more as if you had used toasted coconut instead of zucchini.

Posted by Uprooted (Member # 8353) on :
Really? (that was to Puffy.)

I do use butter. I love butter.
Posted by grammargoddess (Member # 10828) on :
Eggs make a "cakier" bread product. More,um fluffy. For crispier cookies, you need more "dry", so oatmeal is probably a good idea. You could also add ground flax seed for some of the oil.
Posted by ketchupqueen (Member # 6877) on :
Eggs would make it more cakey. The best thing you can do to make it crisper is to swap the fat for one with a higher water content. In this case, try margarine for butter. Also, leave the honey but do swap white for brown sugar; that will make them less chewy. Also try flattening them a bit more and baking a little longer. You could also experiment with brushing the tops with a tiny bit of melted butter before baking, which should make them browner and crisper.
Posted by fugu13 (Member # 2859) on :
You can copy the list of ingredients without fear. Those are completely uncopyrightable. The text directions are more up in the air, so generally don't copy them. However, you can generally create an equivalent set of directions in your own words, and that will be fine.

I suggest you conduct an experiment. I'd pick two (independent) things you can do to influence the cookies, then creating a batch, and dividing it into parts as you reach the variant steps, with one part being the original, one part being the original with the first change, one part being the original with the second change, and one part having both changes, then baking them all on one sheet (divided up by quadrants or another way you can tell them apart clearly).

That's enough things to not take too long testing, and with good controls, but without being too confusing. As you find changes or combinations of changes you like, you can make that the base recipe.
Posted by grammargoddess (Member # 10828) on :
jinx, KQ you owe me a coke! [Razz]
Posted by Puffy Treat (Member # 7210) on :
Yes, white sugar tends to make dough and batter lighter and softer. However, it also helps makes cookies expand during baking, which might make them crisper, depending on the amount of dough used and how long you plan to brown 'em.
Posted by ketchupqueen (Member # 6877) on :
(Oh, also, you might try baking them hotter and faster and see what happens-- not much hotter, but say 375 instead of 350, for 9-12 instead of 10-15 minutes.)
Posted by theCrowsWife (Member # 8302) on :
Originally posted by ketchupqueen:
The best thing you can do to make it crisper is to swap the fat for one with a higher water content.

I disagree. Decreasing the water content will make it crispier. I have made two sets of the same cookies, with the only difference being butter vs margerine. The butter cookies were crispier and the margerine cookies were cakier.

Also, fugu's idea of how to test out the changes is good. However, if I were going to do it, I would write down all of the steps first, otherwise I'm sure I would get confused if I tried to keep the half and quarter recipes in my head.

Posted by ketchupqueen (Member # 6877) on :
Huh, I was sure it was the other way around, but I could be wrong.

If you want to up the fat content and down the water content in the fat, then, you should use shortening for the butter.
Posted by Uprooted (Member # 8353) on :
Thanks for your input, everyone! The butter vs. margarine controversy seems to be represented online; I did some googling and some say butter, others margarine for a crispier cookie. Since I don't have margarine in the house and wasn't planning to go to the store, I think I'll leave in the butter this time and play with some other variables instead.

One site said to swap in 1/4 cup milk for one egg (but since this recipe calls for only one egg I'm a little leary about trying that), and another said to sub 1 tbsp. corn syrup for the same amount of sugar.
Posted by ketchupqueen (Member # 6877) on :
Yeah, don't swap out the egg. The egg is important.
Posted by DeathofBees (Member # 3862) on :
One of the major "softening" points I see in your recipe is the whole wheat flour. I attempted to substitute whole wheat flour for half of the all-purpose flour in a normally-crispy cookie recipe and ended up with a disappointing chewy texture. I'm not sure what to do to remedy the problem, however, except go with all white flour, but you seem to be trying for a more healthful recipe so that may not appeal to you.

About cooking with honey: anytime you substitute sugar with honey, you're going to need to reduce the overall liquid content in your recipe. See the National Honey Board information on this. Some of their recommendations include

*Substitute honey for up to half the sugar in the recipe
*Reduce the liquid by 1/4 cup for each cup of honey used
*Reduce oven temperature by 25 degrees to prevent over-browning
*For easier measuring and fast clean-up, coat your measuring cups and spoons with oil or cooking spray before measuring honey (I highly recommend this! I always measure the oil for my bread recipes right before the honey.)

I agree with ketchupqueen about using shortening instead of butter or margarine for crispier texture. Flattening out the cookies on the sheet is also a great idea. One last thing to consider is that the more you beat the egg, the fluffier your dough's gonna get, so don't overdo it.

Good luck and happy baking!
Posted by Uprooted (Member # 8353) on :
I realized that I probably should have said "chewy" instead of "crisp." I don't think I really expected to transform this recipe into anything crunchy, but did want it to be a little more substantial and less cakey.

So, my highly unscientific experiment (which involved playing with several variables and no nice controls like fugu suggested) resulted in a slightly chewier cookie. It was ever-so-slightly crispy around the edges when it first came out of the oven, but a couple of hours into the Georgia humidity and there was no longer any crisp to be found at all.

Here's what I did: replaced 1/4 cup brown sugar w/ 1/4 cup (minus one tbsp.) white sugar and 1 tbsp. corn syrup. Added about a third cup oatmeal. Also added some more butter. Replaced choc. chips with a raisins and chopped walnuts. Flattened down the dough on about half the cookies (which I had tried to do last time, but it was so wet and batter-like that all it really did was stick to the fork--this time I used a well-greased spatula to do it.) Other than the fact that some are flat and some are puffy, the flattening didn't affect the texture much.

Oh yeah, and I also made it w/ half zucchini and half carrots. Who knows whether the carrots changed the consistency or not!

I think next time I make it I'll add quite a bit more oatmeal to the mix and see what happens. It's a really tasty cookie no matter what the texture.

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