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The first few batches I bake look good and have a nice thickness to them. The last few batches are thinner. Why would that happen? For reference, I use the Nestle Tollhouse Chocolate Chip recipe.

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3 Answers

up vote 14 down vote accepted

The fat in your dough started to soften/melt - especially if you have a hot oven running in the kitchen. Keep your dough cold in the fridge between batches.

See this question for more details on the issue in general, but for your situation, keep it cold between batches. You seem to have started correctly, which is good - you just have to keep it going right.

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On the subject of the hot oven - it might actually be the oven itself. If it's not fully-preheated as the first batch goes in (and it comes out fine that way) then the heat may be too high. –  Aaronut Sep 20 '11 at 22:20
    
Right, I have experienced this while baking pizza. –  Kumar Sep 21 '11 at 4:31
    
@Kumar - frozen pizza? Cuz an extra 10 minutes of rise on most pizza dough isn't going to drastically change your result. –  rfusca Sep 21 '11 at 4:42
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Similar to Adam's pan rotation method is to use sheets of parchment paper:

  • lay out your cookies on the parchment paper on the counter
  • transfer the paper to the pans immediately before cooking

It's not quite as good as letting the pan cool down fully, but the cookies won't have as much time on the warm pan to start spreading before they rise & set. It's also useful for when you're doing large batches, as you can get all of the cookies out of the pan in seconds, so they won't continue to cook on the hot pan

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+1 I do this and pan rotation. –  rfusca Sep 21 '11 at 3:18
    
Is that like wax paper? Or is this a different kind? –  Mike Wills Sep 21 '11 at 13:03
    
@Mike : it's treated with silicone, not wax, so it handles the heat of cooking. If you're using moderate heat, and don't scorch the edges, you can get a few repeat uses out of it. There are also silicone Mats, which are much heavier and can be reused thousands of times, but as they throw off the thermal characteristics of the pan so much, they are trickier to use for cookies. –  Joe Sep 21 '11 at 13:18
    
That is what I was guessing, but I had to ask to be sure. –  Mike Wills Sep 21 '11 at 13:28
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The suggestion by rfusca to keep your dough in the fridge between batches is good. Also consider the pans, though. You should let them cool down before scooping dough onto them. I have three cookie sheets, so I can have one in the oven, one cooling down, and one that I'm loading up with the next batch of cookies.

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I usually give them 10 minutes to cool down. I use three sheets but cook 2 one time and one another. I might try your method next time. –  Mike Wills Sep 20 '11 at 13:07
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My mom is a cookie making machine and she uses this method - keeping the 'off duty' or fallow pan at the far end of the kitchen and chilling the cookie dough when not actively scooping on to the sheets AND she keeps the spoon in the chilling cookie dough in the fridge to keep the dough from sticking to the spoon as much. –  Katey HW Sep 20 '11 at 16:35
    
If you have a fan in your kitchen blowing across your 'cooling down' pan, you can do this with two pans easily. –  rfusca Sep 20 '11 at 17:38
    
I use a 5+ pans in rotation when I'm doing my bulk cookie making -- start on the bottom shelf, move to the top shelf 1/2 way through, let cool (have to let some cookies cool on the sheet), depan and let cool further, load next sheet, repeat. Extra pans mean I can let cool longer and/or get a few pans prepped to go in so I can have time to mix the next batch. And then I remind myself why I shouldn't quadruple recipes. –  Joe Sep 21 '11 at 2:13
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