how to change cookie recipes
I'm not that experienced with baking, and I want to alter some recipes to suit my tastes. Basically, I want moister, fudgier or cakier cookies, but I find a lot of butter too oily. Can I substitute something like buttermilk?
Aside from binding dough, what do eggs do to cookies? Do they make them denser, moister?
How do I lower sugar levels? Should I up the vanilla essence slightly, or add fruit juice/pulp? Does applesauce (which everyone seems to use) work better than, let's say, raspberry pulp? Would ground almonds help a bit?
Any advice would be appreciated. At the moment I am working with cookies made from unsweetened cocoa to get a really intense, not sugary, chocolate flavour.
Eggs do contribute to the density and moisture (think about its custard-making properties) but it can backfire if you beat them too much, or bake too long. Applesauce can be substituted for some of the butter, but butter is largely responsible for giving you that dense fudgey texture. You can use other fruit pulps, but of course they'll change the flavor considerably. I've also substituted a tablespoon of soy flour with a bit of water for one of the eggs, and this seems to contribute to fudginess.
I've successfully cut sugar to 1/2, but it also contributes to a good texture, so you do need some. Adding a bit of salt would help amp up the flavor without so much sugar. For chocolate cookies, coffee can help bring out the chocolate flavor. But too much, and you get mocha.
The main thing for fudginess is to way underbake them. I've learned with pans of brownies to take them out when it looks like the center is still goopy.
I would highly recommend buying or getting from the library a copy of Shirley Corriher's Cookwise. There's an extensive discussion of how various ingredients contribute to different effects in cookies.