All you need to know about cookies

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Introduction to cookies

Cookies have an endless combination of ingredients that can be used to give you the desired finished product. Executing a recipe that is given to you does not really help you understand the dynamics of each ingredient. Each ingredient has its reason for being included in a recipe. Questions that may have asked yourself when making cookies are;

  • What kind of flour do I use? Does it make a difference?
  • Should I add eggs in the recipe?
  • What kind of sugar should I use when making cookies?
  • What temperature should I bake the cookies?

Hopefully all of your questions will be answered after going through this article.

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How to make your cookies crispy

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 To make crispy cookies, use ingredients that allow the cookie to spread during baking.

  • Using baking soda will make the cookies spread more during baking, thus giving you crispier cookies.
  • The higher the sugar content in a cookie, the crispier the cookie will be.
  • Granulated sugar increases spread (in relation to icing sugar). Why? Because, for example, when you are creaming granulated sugar (table sugar) with fat (butter, shortening, etc) you are allowing more air to be incorporated in the mixture. When the cookie is baked the tiny air pockets will enlarge thus giving you spread.
  • The higher the fat (butter, shortening, etc), the crispier the cookie.
  • Low-protein flours make the cookies spread out more during baking, which makes the cookies crisper.
  • Butter or margarine allows a cookie to spread out more because it has a lower melting point as compared to shortening. Another words the cookies will spread earlier during baking,  allowing more moisture evaporation, before a rigid structure is formed; this is turn will give you crispier cookies.
  • Having no eggs in a cookie recipe will give you more spread and therefore a crispier cookie.
  • The lower the amount of liquid in a cookie recipe, the crispier the cookie will be.

How to make your cookies soft

  • Different types of hygroscopic sugars like molasses, honey, brown sugar, etc,  are used in a cookie recipe, to give you a softer end product. For example, brown sugar contains molasses, which absorbs water and helps keep cookies soft.
  • Shortening, has a higher melting point (in relation to butter) which in turn prevents the cookie from spreading, giving you softness and chewyness to your final product.
  • Whatever ingredient will create steam during baking (eg; eggs), will make a cookie rise during baking giving you a moister and thus softer end product.
  • Milk keeps the cookies soft.

How to make your cookies chewy

  • High sugar content in cookies contributes to chewiness.
  • The lower the fat (butter, shortening), the chewier the cookie.
  • Under baking cookies will give you softer cookies simply because there is more moisture left in the cookie.
  • Moisture is necessary for chewiness. High liquid content gives you chewy cookies.
  • Low fat content. The lower the fat, the chewier the cookie.
  • High egg content contributes to chewiness.
  • Shortening, has a higher melting point (in relation to butter) which in turn prevents the cookie from spreading, giving you softness and chewiness to your final product.
  • High gluten flour contributes to chewiness. Gluten is what gives elasticity to dough, which is perceived as chewiness.
  • More protein makes the cookie structure stronger, eg; eggs

 How to make your cookies spread

  • The higher the sugar content, the more the cookie will spread. Sugar liquefies at baking temperatures, so it's considered a liquid ingredient. Granulated sugar increases spread because sugar melts during baking.
  • Using high amounts of baking soda increases spread.
  • Butter or grease baking sheets to increase spread.
  • Bake cookies at lower temperature. This causes everything to melt prematurely before a rigid structure forms, thus causing spread.
  • Creaming a butter/sugar mixture to pale yellow in color, increases spread. Creaming causes a lot of air to be incorporated in the butter/sugar mixture. This in turn causes the cookies to spread, because while the cookies are baked the tiny air pockets will enlarge thus giving you spread.
  • Pastry flour or cake flour, another words low gluten flour will cause your cookies to spread more.

How to decrease spread

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  • Use parchment paper, or a Silpat non-stick silicone mat when baking cookies
  • High gluten flour prevents spread.
  • Having eggs adds moisture in a cookie recipe, resulting in a thicker cookie, or another words, a cookie that will spread less.

What contributes to cookie coloring

  • Butter helps in browning

How to bake your cookies

  • An old dark sheet pan cooks the cookies faster because it absorbs more heat in relation to a new sheet pan.
  • If you only have the dark sheet pans, use 2 pans to avoid burning the bottom of the cookies. Also line the pan with parchment paper or silpat baking mats. For best baking results in cookies, and better heat distribution, use heavy-duty aluminum cookie sheets.

 What kind of sugar to use

Depends what you wish to do. If you want the cookies to spread thinly when baked so that they are crispy, used granulated sugar.

Miscellaneous

  • Baking soda absorbs moisture.
  • Milk keeps the cookies soft.
  • A drier dough will give you a puffier cookie.

Storage

  • To keep cookies crisp, let them cool completely and store them in an airtight container.
  • Cookies stay crispy longer if they are kept in glass containers.
  • All cookies can be stored in the freezer for 4-5 months.

 Troubleshooting

  •  If your crispy cookies were originally crisp but turned soft, you can re-bake them for a few minutes just to get back their crispness. 
  • To keep cookies from going stale, simply add a slice of bread into the container that you store the cookies. Once bread goes stale, replace it with another fresh slice.
  • Baking soda absorbs moisture.
  • Pastry flour will give you a cookie that will fall apart on contact.
  • Aging the cookie dough over night in the will yield a cookie that has more complex flavor

 COOKIE CLASSIFICATIONS

 Ice box cookies

These cookie dough can be made ahead of time and kept in the freezer until needed. Advantage of these cookies is that they are always freshly made when needed.

 Piped cookies

These cookies have a soft enough dough to pipe them using a pastry bag and tip of your choice.

 Dropped cookies

These cookies get their name from the way they are placed on the sheet pan. They are dropped on the sheet pan using an ice cream scoop. 

 Rolled cookies

In these cookies the cookie dough is rolled out thin, using a rolling pin. They are then shaped according to desired shape using cookie cutters.

 

 

 

 

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