The Science of Baking Cookies: Have It Your Way On National Homemade Cookies Day
Recipe variation: Use 1 1/4 cups of granulated sugar.
Photo by Molly Dunn Use a cup of shortening instead of butter to bake cookies with a puffy texture.
To make sure cookies have a puffy texture, use shortening as the fat instead of butter. McGee writes, "shortening [it] can be creamed over a wider temperature range than butter, and it contains emulsifiers and tiny gas bubbles that aid in leavening." While butter most certainly makes cookies taste best, shortening will give your cookies a puffy texture; you'll just have a slightly artificial flavor.
You can also use baking powder instead of baking soda to guarantee a pale, puffy cookie.
Recipe variation: Use 1 cup of shortening; 1 teaspoon of baking powder.
Thin, Crispy Cookies
Add more liquid to cookies so that they spread more while they bake; the result will be a flat, thin cookie. You can do one of three things: add a tablespoon or two of water, milk or cream; use butter instead of shortening; or replace the granulated sugar with superfine sugar.
Recipe variation: Use 2 or 2 1/2 sticks of butter; use 1 1/4 cups of granulated sugar (superfine sugar); add 1 or 2 tablespoons of water, milk or cream.
Photo by Molly Dunn Add brown sugar to cookies to increase the amount of moisture.
Replace part of the granulated sugar with sweeteners that retain moisture, such as corn syrup, brown sugar, honey or molasses.
Recipe variation: Use 1 cup brown sugar, honey, corn syrup or molasses and 1/2 cup of granulated sugar.
For a softer cookie with a cake-like texture, you can also reduce the amount of brown sugar. Brown sugar contains molasses, which is moisture, so if you reduce the amount of brown sugar, you're increasing the amount of flour overall, which reduces the amount of moisture from the sugar.
Recipe variation: Use 1/2 cup of brown sugar.