A Primer For The Perfect Cookie

Kids think that cookies are one of the four basic foods (the others being cakes, pies, and pastries) and sometimes, adults act like kids. If cookies are so important, we ought to know how to make superlative cookies, not just good ones.

The following constitutes a primer for those much better than average cookies.

1. Most cookies (and most cakes) call for butter or shortening, a critical ingredient that provides flavor, affects spread, and controls texture. In most cookie and cake recipes we beat the butter or shortening to entrain air in the product. It becomes a leavener, like baking powder and baking soda. The trapped air makes the cookie lighter. Always beat butter until is light and fluffy. (This is difficult to do without an electric mixer.)

2. Sugar is usually added next. Continue beating until there are no lumps.

3. The eggs and flavoring are next. To avoid getting eggshells in the mixture, break the eggs in a cup and then add to the bowl and beat well.

4. Combine the dry ingredients in a separate bowl. Mix them well with either a sifter or a wire whisk.

5. Add the dry ingredients to the creamed ingredients. If the recipe calls for a liquid, alternate the liquid with the dry ingredients. Stir or beat until combined but do not over mix. Over mixing will develop the gluten in the flour and create a tough cookie and will drive the air from the mixture making the cookie denser.

6. Add the chocolate pieces or nuts if called for. Mix with a spoon instead of the electric mixer as the electric mixer may break the chocolate pieces or nuts.

7. If you are making drop cookies, use a scoop to make uniform sized and shaped cookies. Use quality baking sheets. (We don’t like the insulated sheets for most cookies. We want the cookies to cook from the bottom as well as the top.)

8. Most cookies can be tested for doneness by look and feel. Light colored cookies should begin to brown around the edges. Dark cookies will lose their gloss. If you touch them with your finger, there should barely remain an imprint.

9. Most cookies should be removed and cooled on a rack. If left on the rack, they will continue to cook from the heat in the metal and the cookies will sweat and become soggy on the bottom.

Will hope these suggestions will help you bake perfect cookies.

Copyright 2003-2007, The Prepared Pantry (www.prepraredpantry.com ). Published by permission

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About The Author, Dennis Weaver -
Dennis Weaver is a baker, a recipe designer, and a writer. He has written many baking guides and How to Bake, a comprehensive baking and reference e-book--available free at The Prepared Pantry which sells baking and cooking supplies and has a free online baking library.