Cookie Characteristics And Their Causes

Cookies come in an infinite variety of shapes, sizes, flavors, and textures. Characteristics that are desirable in some are not desirable in others. For example, we want some cookies to be crisp and others to be soft.We want some to hold their shape and others to spread during baking. In order to produce the characteristics we want and to correct faults, it is useful to know what causes these characteristics.


Cookies are crisp if they are very low in moisture.The following factors contribute to crispness:

1. Low proportion of liquid in the mix. Most crisp cookies are made from a stiff dough.

2. High sugar and fat content.

3. Evaporation of moisture during baking due to high temperatures and/or long baking.

4. Small size or thin shape, so the cookies dry quickly during baking.

5. Proper storage. Crisp cookies can become soft if they absorb moisture.


Softness is the opposite of crispness, so it has the opposite causes, as follows:

1. High proportion of liquid in mix.

2. Low sugar and fat.

3. Honey, molasses, or corn syrup included in formulas. These sugars are hygroscopic, which means they readily absorb moisture from the air or from their surroundings.

4. Underbaking.

5. Large size or thick shape.The cookies retain moisture.

6. Proper storage. Soft cookies can become stale and dry if not tightly covered or wrapped.


Moisture is necessary for chewiness, but other factors are also required. In other words, all chewy cookies are soft, but not all soft cookies are chewy.

1. High sugar and liquid content, but low fat content.

2. High proportion of eggs.

3. Strong flour, or gluten developed during mixing.


Spread is desirable in some cookies, while others must hold their shape. Several factors contribute to spread or lack of spread.

1. Sugar.

High sugar content increases spread. Coarse granulated sugar increases spread, whereas fine sugar or confectioners' sugar reduces spread.

2. Leavening.

High baking soda or baking ammonia content encourages spread. So does long creaming, which incorporates air.

3. Temperature.

Low oven temperature increases spread. High temperature decreases spread because the cookie sets up before it has a chance to spread too much.

4. Liquid.

A slack batter—that is, one with a high liquid content—spreads more than a stiff dough.

5. Flour.

Strong flour or activation of gluten decreases spread.

6. Pan grease.

Cookies spread more if baked on a heavily greased pan.

Continue reading here: Mixing Methods

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