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Perfect Cookies

Perfect Cookies

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Published by Saravit Devi Dasi

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Categories:Types, Recipes/Menus
Published by: Saravit Devi Dasi on Nov 23, 2009
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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06/05/2010

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Perfect Cookies
 Some cookies should be crisp and delicate, while others ought to be chewy and tender.
If you have a cookie recipe that you love, but aren’t getting the desired results, usethese tips to get your perfect cookie:
Flat
If you want your cookies on the flat side, you can do some or all of the followingthings: Use all butter, use all-purpose flour or bread flour, increase the sugar contentslightly, add a bit of liquid to your dough, and bring the dough to room temperature beforebaking.
Puffy
For light, puffy cookies, use shortening or margarine and cut back on the amountof fat; add an egg, cut back on the sugar, use cake flour or pastry flour, use baking powderinstead of baking soda and refrigerate your dough before baking.
Chewy
Try melting the butter before adding it to the sugars when mixing. Removecookies from the oven a few minutes before they are done, while their centers are still softbut are just cooked through. The edges should be golden. Use brown sugar, honey ormolasses as a sweetener. Let cookies cool on the pan for several minutes after bakingbefore transferring to cooling rack.
Crispy
For crisp, crunchy cookies, use all butter and a proportion of white sugar. Useegg yolks in place of a whole egg. Cookies should be baked completely. Let cool on thebaking sheet for one minute before transferring to a cooling rack.
The ingredients, mixing techniques and baking temperature all affect how a batchof cookies will turn out.
Ingredients
Using the correct ingredients is key. Follow the recipe closely and measureingredients carefully for best results.
Fats
Cookies are made primarily with butter, margarine or shortening. Fats play amajor role in the spread of a cookie--whether a cookie keeps its shape or flattens inthe oven. Shortening and margarine are stable, and will help cookies keep theiroriginal unbaked shapes. Butter melts at a much lower temperature than othersolid fats--it melts at body temperature, resulting in a “melt-in-your-mouth” burstof flavor. Cookies made with butter tend to spread out. Butter is essential in certaincookies, such as shortbreads; if they don’t hold their shape, consider lowering theamount of butter, sugar, or baking soda in the recipe. The amount of fat alsoaffects the cookies: in general, more fat equals flat, crispy cookies while less fat
 
equals puffier, cake-like cookies. Whipped spreads are not suitable for baking: usesolid sticks of margarine instead.
Flour
Flour also affects how cookies behave. Most cookie recipes call for all-purpose or pastry flour. Both bread flour, with its high protein content, and cakeflour, which is high in starch, produce cookies that tend to spread less. (The glutenin the bread flour and the absorbant starch in cake flour are responsible for thesimilar results.) Higher flour-to-liquid ratios are needed in shortbread and crumbly-textured cookies.
Baking Powder and Baking Soda
Baking powder and baking soda are the twomost common leaveners in cookies. Baking soda is simply bicarbonate of soda,while baking powder is a combination of bicarbonate of soda plus cream of tartar,an acidic ingredient. Baking soda neutralizes the acidity of the dough, allowing thecookies to brown in the oven. Since baking powder already contains its own acid, itwill not reduce the acidity in the dough, and the resulting cookies will be puffier andlighter in color.
Sugars
Like fats, sugars liquefy in the oven. The type and amount of sugar usedplay a big role in cookie performance. White sugar makes a crisper cookie thanbrown sugar or honey. Cookies made from brown sugar will absorb moisture afterbaking, helping to ensure that they stay chewy. Most chocolate chip cookie recipescontain both brown and white sugars. If you lower the amount of sugar called for ina cookie recipe, the final baked cookie will be puffier than its high-sugarcounterpart.
Decorating Cookies
 Impress your friends and be the star of any cookie exchange party by learningthese basic techniques.
Molds, Stamps and Presses
Ceramic, metal, and even plastic molds and stamps can be used to emboss cookieswith a beautiful design.These fruit-shaped cookies are perfect for garden parties, picnics and teas.
 
From elaborately frosted to chocolate-dipped, decorated cookies are a delightfultreat for any occasion.
Frosting
The most beautifully decorated cookies are made using frosting. It takes practice,but piping is a very versatile skill for decorating cookies and cakes. The simplesttypes of cookie icing are made using confectioners' sugar, butter or shortening andmilk or water, such as Sugar Cookie Icing and Decorator Frosting. These icingshave a somewhat softer texture than royal icings, which dry to a very hard crunchyfinish. (Royal icing is great for gluing gingerbread houses, but it's not very tasty.)
Coloring and Flavoring
If you want a different flavor for each color of icing, use vanilla, lemon, orange oralmond extract (vanilla will discolor the icing slightly). Juice can also be substitutedfor the liquid in a recipe. For brighter colors, paste food coloring--available at craftand kitchenware stores--works better than the more commonly available liquidcolors.
When adding color, first mix the color into about 1 tablespoon of icing, andthen blend that into the rest of the icing.
Frosting can easily be thinned to the desired consistency by adding liquidsuch as milk, juice or water.
For a smooth glossy finish, warm the icing slightly in a microwave, or in abowl over a pan of simmering water.
Be sure to stir frequently so that a crust does not form on the top.
Keep icing covered with a damp cloth and plastic wrap in between uses.
Application
Frost cookies with a pastry brush, small metal spatula, or by simply dipping thecookies into a shallow bowl of icing: hold the cookie by its edges, dip into the icing,and lift up with a twisting motion to let the excess drip back into the bowl.
Use a knife or spatula to spread icing over any bare spots.
Set the freshly frosted cookies onto a tray or waxed paper to dry.
Once the first coat of frosting is dry, you can pipe another color of frostingover the top to add details such as stripes, spirals, polka dots and names.

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