How to make perfect cookies every time!
What is a cookie?
A cookie is a small, flat, sweet, baked good, usually containing flour, eggs, sugar, and either butter, cooking oil or another oil or fat. It may include other ingredients such as raisins, oats, chocolate chips or nuts. In most English-speaking countries except for the US and Canada, crisp cookies are called biscuits.
Cookies appear to have their origins in 7th century AD Persia, shortly after the use of sugar became relatively common in the region. They spread to Europe through the Muslim conquest of Spain. By the 14th century, they were common in all levels of society throughout Europe, from royal cuisine to street vendors.
This is an excellent short video by TED- perfect for those that want to know more!
Types of Cookies
Bar Cookies are made from a stiff dough that is poured or pressed into a baking dish, then baked, cooled and cut into bars, squares or diamonds. Bars cookies can be single-layered (like brownies) or multi-layered – with cake-like or chewy textures.
Drop Cookies are made by dropping a spoonful of soft batter on a sheet pan. While baking, the batter will spread out and flatten to form the popular circle cookie shape.
World’s Best Cookie http://www.cookingtoday.info/recipe/worlds-best-cookies/
Oatmeal Raisin Cookies
Icebox Cookies are cookie dough rolled into logs, ready to slice and bake. You can use the basic butter-and-sugar-rich dough and add nuts, fruits or whatever to the dough.
Chocolate-Dipped Macadamia Cookies
Ice Box- Shortbread Cookies
Molded Cookies are cookies that have been either cut or pressed into certain molds or shapes. Molded generally tend to be fancy. They can be cut into assorted shapes rolled cookie with a cookie cutter or molded with a cookie mold or stamp or molded by hand to make them unique looking.
Rolled Cookies are a type of cookie prepared from a dense cookie dough that is rolled out flat onto a counter, and cut into the desired shapes. There are many different recipes for rolled cookies, but they are especially popular for the holiday season because they can be made into shaped like gingerbread men. These types of cookies can also make great gifts.
Butter Cookies or Sugar Cookies are a crispy style cookie that is a very basic and easy-to-make and have a rich buttery flavor. The Dough is rolled into a thin sheet on a clean and flat surface with a rolling pin. Then cut into shapes that are often decorated before or after baking. Butter cookies decorated to celebrate a particular holiday or event.
Hand Molded Cookie dough is rolled into balls, Mexican Wedding Cookies, or Crescents, Braids, Logs, or Rings made with your cake decorating star tip and pastry bag, or Almond Pretzels, and then rolled in sugar or nuts before baking. While others are filled with jam, like thumbprint cookies, dropped and flattened with fork tines in a crisscross pattern, such as the popular peanut butter cookies, or baked as a loaf and then cut into strips and baked again, such as biscotti. Some hand-formed cookies are shaped after baking, while they are still warm, fortune cookies.
Thumbprint Cookies Thumbprint cookies can be filled with jams, lemon curd, nuts, chocolate or whatever you like.
Peanut Butter Cookies http://www.cookingtoday.info/recipe/peanut-butter-cookies/
Cookie Dough Tips:
- *Use the best quality ingredients–they’ll produce the tastiest cookies.
- Successful baking relies on the correct ratio of ingredients, so be sure to measure accurately.
- Measure the flour first and then sift or stir with a whisk to lighten the flour. Usually stir in all dry ingredients together so they are well mixed.
- Add the flour by hand, into the creamed sugar and butter and eggs, so as not to over mix and toughen the cookies.
- The dough should be tacky and sticky and should hold together. When the dough just holds together stop adding flour. Do not to over stir the dough too much because it increased the gluten and the cookie becomes tough. When the dough is too sticky, add in 1 tablespoon extra flour, and fold after each addition before deciding to add more. Stop when the dough is just tacky.
- If you have added too much flour, and the dough crumbles, start with 1 teaspoon oil to correct, adding a few drops at a time, and mix afterward.Even when the dough is not the exact texture the cookies, most of the time it will still bake perfectly and taste delicious!
- Try make cookies uniform in size and shape. Scoop the dough into walnut or ping pong ball sized balls. I use a small ice cream scoop for the cookie dough. Place formed dough balls on sheet pans about 2-inches apart.
- When the dough is to be rolled out (to 1/8 to 1/4 inch), if you place parchment paper and a layer of flour down first it will help prevent dough from sticking and it is easily moved back into the refrigerator to chill again if necessary.Parchment also makes easy clean-up.
- Cool the cookies on the baking pan for about 2 minutes. Transfer the cookies with a spatula to cool completely. If baked on parchment paper, cookies can be cooled right on its surface; slide the paper with the cookies on top to a wire cake rack to cool. Remove cookies when cooled. Cool cookies completely before decorating them.
Understanding cookie ingredients is important. The three main ingredients in most cookies are flour, sugar, and fat, plus other ingredients such as leaveners, eggs, liquids, such as milk, and sometimes chocolate, coconut, spices or nuts and raisins.
- Factors like humidity, climate, altitude and brand of flour can affect how much flour a cookie dough needs. (So can slight variations in the water content of the butter or eggs you use.)
- How you measure your flour does make a difference. Spoon the flour into the measuring cup and scrape off the mound with a knife. Do not pack it down. When you dip the measuring cup into the flour you compact the flour and get too much flour in the cup.
- Another great way is to weigh out your ingredients. One cup of unsifted all-purpose flour weighs 4.5 oz. or 125 grams. Sifted flour will weigh less than unsifted flour.
- The type of flour determines the structure of the final cookie. Flour is the main binding agent and each type of flour has an individual protein profile suitable almost exclusively for specific uses.
- High-protein flour or All-purpose flour generally used in most cookie recipes and will make a darker in color and flatter cookies.
- Low-protein flour or Cake flour makes a pale, soft and puffy cookie.
- Bread flour will make chewy cookie: since bread flour can absorb much more liquid than all purpose flour, more moisture will stay in the cookie.
- Whole Wheat Flour When you use whole wheat flour in your cookies, use a little less than regular flour. Whole wheat flour will absorb more of the liquid from the other ingredients.
All cookie recipes have some form of sugar is used. It adds sweetness and affects the spread of the cookie and makes them golden brown. When a recipe calls for sugar safe to assume that it is granulated. Sugars and fats liquefy in the oven, that is why oven temperature is so important. Each type and amount of sugar used changes the cookie performance. If you cut the amount of sugar called for in a cookie recipe, the final baked cookie will be puffier or firm and not chewy or crisp.
- Using too little sugar can affect the taste, color, and texture of cookies. Adding too much can cause them to be brittle.
- Granulated sugar or brown sugar are the most frequently used in making cookies, but honey, molasses, corn syrup and other sugars can be used, sometimes they are combined both brown and white sugars.
- For a chewier cookie, liquid sweetener, such as honey, corn syrup or molasses is preferred.
- White sugar will make a crisper cookie than other sweeteners. White sugar will help give cookies a nice crisp edge. Using all white sugar will give you hard, crunchy cookies. Cookie spread decreases as sugar particle size increases. A coarse granulated sugar produces less cookie spread during baking than powdered sugar.
- Cookies made from brown sugar will absorb moisture after baking, helping to ensure that they stay tender and chewy. Brown sugar adds a beautiful color as well as a more complex flavor. Adding too much can result in dark brown cookies. Adding too little results in paler cookies. Brown sugar is white sugar with molasses added back into it. Dark brown sugar has more molasses and will give an even stronger flavor to the cookies.
- Corn syrup and molasses make cookies browner.
- Brown sugar and honey make cookies that soften the longer you keep them.
- Fats such as stick butter and margarine, lard, and shortening, are emulsifiers and it makes cookies tender and crispy. Fats coat the flour’s gluten strands and prevent the cookie from becoming tough when moistened and stirred.
- Each fat plays a major role in the cookie. Depending on the amount of fat in the recipe you may have a flat, crispy cookies or a thicker cake style cookies.
- Cookies made with butter spread out more than when using shortening or margarine. Adding too much butter can cause the cookies to be flat and greasy and adding too little butter can make cookies tough and crumbly. Butter usually adds the most flavor.
- DO NOT melt the butter because the cookies will run together or you will need to chill the dough for at least 1-2 hours. Use room temperature butter by leaving it out an hour ahead of time or place a measuring cup with water in the microwave and heat the water for about 1 minute. The micro will be warm, not hot, place the butter in the oven the moist air will cut the softening time to 15 minutes. You should be able to push your finger gently into the butter to make a slight indentation. If your finger easily slides through the entire stick, it is too soft and may cause your cookies to spread too much while baking.
- You can substitute margarine as long as it contains at least 80 percent vegetable oil. If the oil content doesn’t appear on the label, check the calorie count. Margarine that has 100 calories or more per tablespoon contain 80 percent vegetable oil. Do not use products labeled vegetable oil spread, light or reduced-fat margarine, or diet spread, they contain to much water. Margarine makes cookies spread a little more than butter, and tastes good but with less flavor than when Butter is used.
- Unless you are making low-fat or fat-reduced recipes, choose full-fat dairy products. Always use solid cream cheese and not the whipped variety. Milk- Usually milk is added for making a cakier cookie style.
- The liquid from the egg forms steam and gets trapped in the cookie when the temperature gets hot enough, puffing it up. In addition, they bind the dough, bringing the water and fat together in a recipe for a moist, smoother texture, and the shape and size of the finished cookie. Using too many eggs can result in gummy, cake-like cookies. Adding too few eggs can result in dry, crumbly cookies.
- Most recipes ask for eggs at room temperature. A quick way to get an egg to room temperature is to place it in a bowl of warm tap water for about 10 minutes before using it. There are recipes that request cold eggs, the cold helps to keep the butter as firmer through the final mixing stage.
- Eggs should be added one at at time and beaten well between additions to keep the mixture nice and emulsified.
- If you find you do not have enough eggs for baking, you can add 1/4 cup vegetable oil for each egg required.
- When the recipe calls for eggs, most times use a large egg (which is about 1/4 cup or 50 grams). The size of egg determines the ratio of liquid to dry ingredients. Beat eggs into your cookie dough one at a time to allow them to fully incorporate.
- Baking powder is a combination of bicarbonate of soda plus cream of tartar and cornstarch. Baking powder produces cookies that are puffier and lighter in color. Depending on how much acid is in the baking powder it can be labeled as fast-acting, slow-acting, and double-acting. Most baking powders are double-acting and will release only a small amount of gas during mixing; the majority will release in the hot oven.
- Cream of Tartar is also used often in recipes with baking soda and also when creaming butter and sugar together, it creates tiny air bubbles in the mixture that can be expanded by the addition of baking soda and an acid.
Salt Fine salt is the best to assure it is mixed with the other dry ingredients. Salt works with the leavening ingredients and balances the flavors. Currently, there are many different types of salt in the stores. I prefer sea salt for the flavor and the micro nutrients it adds. Often coarse salt is sprinkled on top of some cookie dough for an extra burst of flavor.
Chocolate– Chocolate chips come in mini chips or regular size and both produce melted bits of chocolate, the preference is up to you which you to use. Chocolate chopped by hand to make Chocolate chunks and shavings produce the most flavor contrast with the fine shavings mix throughout the dough, adding extra rich chocolate flavor while larger chunks still melt into large gooey pockets.
Different types of chips can be interchangeable in cookie recipes peanut butter chips, butterscotch chips, white chocolate chips, or nuts.
Coffee– flavored cookies are wonderful, instead of adding brewed coffee, add a small amount of instant coffee crystals with a touch of cocoa powder and cinnamon.
Sour cream gives the cookies an irresistibly soft and tender crumb.
Vanilla is the most used flavoring in cookies. Whenever possible use pure vanilla extract or almond extract for the very best flavor.
Nuts are often called for in cookies. Usually, it is best to toast the nuts lightly first, the toasting enhances the flavor.
Raisins and other dried fruit should be soaked in warm water to rehydrated them first. Often people like to soak them in alcohol first for additional flavor.
The oven Temperature makes a big difference when baking cookies. For best results, always use an oven thermometer to get an accurate reading of the temperature, for all your baking. If you find your cookies to be usually pale and soft or your cookies seem to brown too quickly, it’s likely the fault of your oven. The sugars in the cookies need to melt at the correct temperature. I baked cookies at various temperatures in 25°F increments ranging from 250°F up to 450°F. When baked at a lower temperature, the dough has more of a chance to spread out, leading to flatter, wider cookies. Conversely, cookies baked at higher temperatures spread less. Even a difference of as little as 50°F makes a big difference.
Baking Times– Set a timer. Time moves so fast when baking and it is so easy to under cook or burn your cookies.
Storing -Baked cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for about 5 days or refrigerate (for up to 3 days).You can also freeze cookie dough (for 1 month) so you can bake cookies when you want them for fresh still-warm cookies. Always wrap the dough well when you refrigerate or freeze to maintain the good flavor.