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Question #41514 posted on 12/17/2007 3:01 a.m.
Q:

Dear 100 Hour Board,

Whats a good recipe or secret for fluffy cookies? My cookies come out of the oven fluffy and then go flat while they are cooling! I made cookies at my leaders house one time with them and other people, and they turned out fluffy. Then I used the same recipe at my house and they turned out flat. I know baking soda makes them fluffy, but then they just end up pancakes still. I've tried baking the cookies longer so they'd cook into the right shape but then they just turned out really crispy and flat. Maybe quality's the issue?

- Queen Lucy Pevensie

A: Dear Queen Lucy,

I owe all I know about cooking to three sources:

1. Mom
2. Experience
3. Alton Brown's "Good Eats" on the Food Network

I will be drawing upon the final item for this question, as my cookies aren't puffy (not my taste).

And I quote from the Book of "Good Eats", Season 3, Episode 34 (GE 3:34):
Shortening melts at a higher temperature than butter so it remains solid longer giving the batter time to rise and set before it spreads. Increasing the ratio of brown to white sugar also creates a more tender cookie.
OK, so there are a few things to think about. If you're using butter or margarine, try switching to butter-flavored shortening. It's better for you anyway (though not by much). Further:
The lower protein cake flour will tie up less moisture making it available for steam production. Steam will lift the batter in the oven producing a fluffy, cake-like batter. Switching from baking powder to soda enhances fluffiness by creating an acidic batter which will set quicker and spread less.
All right, so the next step is to take a look at your flour. Flour absorbs moisture according to how much protein is in it. As stated, cake flour has low protein content, which leads to better steam lift. And as you said, baking soda helps too.
Cold dough spreads slowly giving the cookie time to climb before setting. When your batter has thoroughly chilled, it's time to scoop and bake. And by the way, the smaller the scoop the more puff the cookie will have.
There you go. Chill your dough.

For the "puffy recipe" he teaches on this segment, you can go here.

Best of luck in your puff seeking!

-Claudio