A drop of doughy delight, cookies spread joy every time they grace a serving plate or cookie jar. A solid, reliable cookie recipe is a must for your repertoire, allowing you to recreate these delights over and over again.
However, they can be delicate little things, highly susceptible to changes in temperature, moisture, and ingredient ratios. We’ve all experienced the joy of making a yummy batch of soft and gooey cookies, only to find them hard and crunchy the following day.
Worry not, I’m here to help! This guide will tell you all you need to know about why your cookies went hard in the first place, and how to make hard cookies soft again, fast!
Fortunately, the hardening process can be halted with the correct ingredients, baking time, and storage, while the re-softening process uses a few common kitchen items. Firstly, let’s explore why your soft cookies went hard in the first place.
Why Are My Soft Cookies Hard?
It is incredibly easy for chewy, gooey cookies to turn into hard, crunchy ones. Your cookie texture course is set right from the beginning of the baking process, with the ingredients you use.
These will shape the type of dough you create, which has a huge impact on the end result. This is followed by baking in an oven, which has its own risks too. Lastly, but by no means least, you have storage to consider, which is one of the easiest ways to let your soft cookies turn hard.
Get any of these steps wrong and you’re careering down a hard cookie path at lightning speed. This might seem like a daunting prospect but I’ve got your back! Keep reading to discover more about these common pitfalls and how to make cookies soft again.
Brown sugar is your friend when it comes to making soft and chewy cookies. It has a higher moisture content compared to white sugar and helps to create a melt-in-the-mouth cookie texture. Most chewy cookie recipes use a combination of brown and white sugar to create the perfect texture. Liquid sweeteners can also be used, such as maple syrup or honey.
Flour can be a friend or foe when it comes to cookies. Too much and you have a dry mixture which will lead to hard, crumbly cookies. Too little and your dough will be too wet to work with. The type of flour you use for cookies also has an impact. Add the flour in gradually, which will allow you to observe how your dough is forming.
Want to make the softest cookies you’ve ever laid your eyes on? Check out this recipe below!
Speaking of dough – the drier the dough, the tougher the cookie. When combining your ingredients, keep a close eye on your dough’s consistency. A dry dough that has too much flour will lead to harder cookies. In addition, overworking your dough will lead to a hard and dry end result. Try to handle your dough as little as possible and avoid over-mixing or over-kneading.
Striking a balance is key here, you’re aiming for a dough that is wet and sticky but holds its shape when spooned onto a baking sheet. If your dough can be easily handled, shaped into a ball, and rolled out – you’re in hard cookie territory.
For more in-depth information on the ins and outs of making chewy versus crunchy cookies, check out my blog on the topic.
When baking your cookies, ensure you know the actual internal temperature of your oven. This can differ from the dial on the outside so get yourself an oven thermometer to get better accuracy when it comes to setting your oven temperature.
When your cookies are baking, watch them like a hawk to avoid over-baking them. Bake until just golden on the outside and still soft on the inside. Once removed from the oven, the residual heat in the cookies and on the baking sheet will continue the cooking process. Overbaking = hard cookies.
One of the most common reasons for hard cookies is improper storage. Leaving cookies exposed to air will cause their moisture to evaporate and dry them out. Once baked, let them cool completely before transferring them to an airtight container. Keep the container closed as much as possible to ensure they stay fresher for longer.
How To Make Hard Cookies Soft Again
Despite your best efforts, your soft cookies have gone hard. Fear not, I’ve put together some useful hacks to help you make your hard cookies soft again.
The microwave is your friend in this hack! Wrap your cookies in a damp paper towel and heat them in the microwave for 15 – 20 second intervals. A damp towel is essential for this, as it introduces moisture. Continue with short blasts of heat in the microwave until you get your desired consistency.
Avoid chucking your cookies in the oven to try and soften them. The dry heat of the oven will continue to bake your cookies, removing more moisture and further hardening your cookies. Not what you want!
How to Soften Cookies with Apple
This is a great way to both soften cookies and use up some leftover apples you might have lying around. Simply put a slice of apple into the airtight container with your cookies and let the fruit do its magic.
The apple slice will reintroduce moisture to the environment and help to moisten your hard cookies, returning them to their chewy goodness once more.
How to Soften Cookies with Bread
Have the end of a white bread loaf that no one will eat? I have the solution. If your cookies are in need of a little moisture, simply pop the slice of bread into your airtight cookie jar and let the bread do its thing for a few hours or overnight.
Bread contains moisture, and when left alone with the cookies, it will release this moisture into the environment. The cookies will then drink it up and return to being soft and chewy.
Reuse Your Dry Cookies in Another Recipe
If the apple, bread and microwave didn’t do the trick, then it might be time to transform your cookies from a standalone dessert to a tasty addition. Dry cookies are scrummy when crushed and sprinkled over ice cream or yogurt.
They make a great base for a cheesecake or a top for a fruit crumble. They can also be delicious when used as a base for a creamy dessert like a trifle or tiramisu.
Now You Know How to Make Cookies Soft Again Fast!
As I like to say here, prevention is better than cure so make sure you get your ingredients, dough, bake time, and storage right to create the optimal soft cookie.
If your soft cookies have gone hard despite this, a slice of apple or bread, or your microwave can help rehydrate them. Chances are you won’t have to try to keep them soft as they are often scoffed within hours of baking!