If you're a "soft cookie, chewy cookie" fan, nothing is more disappointing than opening a cookie jar to cookies hard as rocks. Don't despair, you can soften hard cookies with a few easy hacks.
Simple Soft Cookie Recipe
If you're worried about hard cookies, take a few steps during the baking process to ensure a softer outcome. Your ingredients matter.
Moist ingredients lead to soft cookies. Butter (rather than shortening) and brown sugar are important ingredients in a simple soft cookie recipe. Other moist ingredients that put a healthy spin on your soft cookies include bananas and dried fruit, such as in our recipe for 5 ingredient Oatmeal Raisin Cookies.
The flour you use also matters. Make sure it's fresh, and consider using a mix of buckwheat and wheat flour to create a nutrition and taste sensation in your soft cookies. The Journal of Food Science and Technology published research in March 2015, explaining that the addition of buckwheat to wheat flour helped produce cookies that had greater antioxidant properties and pharmaceutical potential.
Plus, people reported that the cookies were still not too hard, despite the healthy addition of buckwheat. The most palatable, soft and spreadable cookies had no more than 40 percent of the flour substituted for buckwheat flour.
Another way to make sure your cookies come out soft is to underbake them just slightly. Pull them out of the oven while they're still gooey in the middle. They'll continue to cook a little out of the oven, but will also retain some moisture and stay soft for eating.
Softening Stale Cookies
If you did everything you could to follow a simple soft cookie recipe, but your batch of day-old cookies is a little too hard for your liking, you have options for restoring them to their delectable softness. You don't have to live in a world of hard cookies.
A simple heel of fresh bread placed in the cookie jar, bag or cookie tin with the hard cookies can offer up enough moisture to resoften your batch. You may see a softening in just a few hours as the cookies borrow the moisture from the bread. Make sure you use plain bread — rye or caraway bread may impart that flavor into your baked goods.
Another easy softening hack, offered by the Culinary Institute of America, is to place an apple slice, skin side down, in the cookie jar for a day or so. The sugar in the cookies attracts the moisture produced by the apple and so they soften up.
Cookies Are a Sometimes Food
Remember that soft cookies are a treat, not a full food group that you should have as part of your everyday diet. The USDA's Choose My Plate classifies cookies as a source of added sugar. If you want to build a healthy eating style and keep your caloric consumption at a healthy place, you should choose foods with less added sugar.
Eat cookies as a treat and when you do reach for them, choose extra-healthy versions, like our Chocolaty Chia Cookies or Chocolate-Dipped Vanilla Cookies. Stick to just one cookie, as the added agave syrup is still considered an added sugar. Coconut oil, chia and dark chocolate do make these a healthier option, as they confer nutritional benefits when consumed, such as healthy fats and antioxidants.
Other added sugars to avoid include fructose, maple syrup, honey and even molasses. Some of these may sound like healthy alternatives to cane sugar or high-fructose corn syrup, but they have the same effects on your blood sugar, digestion and calorie intake.