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I like to make chocolate chip cookies, and the first batch always turns out great. However I don't use all the dough at once, so I refrigerate the leftovers. When I use this cold dough to make another batch of cookies, they are usually a little overdone on the outside while still a bit underdone on the inside.

I've tried setting the dough out on the counter for a while to let it warm up to room temperature, but even sitting out for over an hour, it hasn't noticeably changed temperature. I've also tried rolling the balls of dough in my hands for a bit to warm them before placing them on the pan, but that seems to make the issue worse (probably because the outside melts before the inside thaws). This leads me to think any other solution (microwaving the dough, putting the pan in a slightly warm oven, etc) will make things worse rather than better.

Is there some easy solution I'm not thinking of besides making dough in smaller batches (which is tough because you can't go down to less than one egg)? Do I need to store the dough in a different way or prep it somehow before baking?

I generally use the recipe on the back of the bag of Tollhouse chocolate chips, which uses butter, sugar, brown sugar, eggs, flour, etc. I use real butter, not margarine or shortening.

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Bake it all and freeze some cookies.

Cookies freeze great. And you can let them sit out overnight to thaw without worries.

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  • Most cookies can also be held for a week or two at room temperature in an airtight container. (although this doesn't help you if you have kids / roommates who would at them all behind your back, but would respect boundaries if they're in the freezer) – Joe May 28 at 15:02
  • It took me a long time to be able to test this because apparently there is no limit to how many fresh-baked cookies will be immediately consumed in my household, (though I suppose that's its own solution to extra dough). I agree that frozen cookies baked from fresh dough are tastier than fresh cookies baked from old dough so I accepted this. Any idea how long they stay fresh tasting in the freezer? I might try to hide some in there long term. – Kat Oct 27 at 18:31
  • @Kat - you need freezer camouflage to keep cookies safe. I recommend a an empty package of frozen spinach. Beware freezer burn: get them in a good ziplock bag so they do not soak up freezer funk flavor. – Willk Oct 28 at 17:43
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Just take them out of the refrigerator and take a bit of the chill off. Maybe while your oven is preheating. You might have to slightly adjust your baking time, but it should work just fine. Baking them from cold should result is a smoother top and a more perfect shape. In fact these folks suggest refrigerating for just that purpose. You could store your extra dough flat, in a zip lock type bag. That would allow them to warm more quickly.

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    Maybe the shape is "better", but the texture is definitely not IMO. Maybe I'm wrong and it has nothing to do with being cold but something else that changes while it sits in the fridge for a couple of days? – Kat Apr 4 at 20:49
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I admit, this doesn't exactly answer your question, but you have a few things going on here, which complicates the problem.

The issue isn't just temperature, it's also time -- the flour will continue to absorb moisture while it's in the fridge, so even if you were to let the dough get back to room temperature, it's still not going to bake up exactly like when it's fresh. This is why even when a cookie recipe tells you to let the dough chill in the fridge for a couple of hours, you can't just make it up and let it sit in the fridge for 3 days before you bake it. (Well, you can, it just won't be the same).

The only possible solution that I can think of for this problem would be to mix a little extra liquid into the batter before you put it into the fridge. But I honestly have no idea how much, or what other sorts of problems this might cause. (or even what type of liquid ... egg might be better than milk or oil)

You also have the problem of the butterfat solidifying, which can be reversed by letting the dough come back up to temperature. To do that more quickly, you can beat and/or roll the batter into a sheet, and then place it between two sheet pans (which will help to conduct heat from a larger surface area).

But again, that's still not going to get the cookies to be exactly like what you had when you baked them fresh.

It might be possible to simply mitigate some of the problems that you're running into simply by adjusting how they're baked. Unfortunately, I haven't been doing much cookie baking in the last few years, so I'm kinda blanking on how I used to adjust recipes when I used to make the dough ahead of time to bake at a friend's house who had two ovens. I think I lowered the baking temperature slightly, and cooked them for longer. I might've even chilled the pans first. (but I was also dealing with shaped cookies, not drop cookies)

I'd recommend looking at other questions about cookie problems on here, depending on the exact symptoms of what's going wrong (not spreading enough / spreading too much / too chewy / too crisp / too puffy / too crumbly), and working from there.

And whatever you come up with, you then have to ask yourself which is worse -- cookies that have been stored for a few days (in an airtight container, either room temperature or in the fridge), or cookies that don't quite bake up quite right from refrigerated dough. If you're looking for that 'fresh baked' quality, you can try microwaving the cookies for a few seconds, or warming them in a low oven (or hot car).

And it's also worth mentioning ... if you really wanted to, you can halve an egg. (which you can then hold in the fridge for a day or two)

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  • I think you might be onto something with chilling the pan, because the bottoms get done fastest and that's really the issue. Maybe the pan is heating up rapidly and cooking the bottoms faster than the tops can cook. Perhaps I should also try moving the rack up a slot or two. I'll try it next time! – Kat Oct 27 at 18:44
  • @Kat : I've also been known to cook on a higher rack, and then put an empty sheet tray on a lower rack to block some of the radiant heat, if I know that might be an issue. For mass cookie baking, I'll stagger the cookies so I start them on the top rack, then move them to the bottom when I rotate them, (or visa versa, depending on what I'm trying to do). It's a little extra to keep track of vs. just swapping the top & bottom trays, but I find I can get more consistent results that way. – Joe Oct 27 at 22:14

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