Seven Basic Cookie Questions
I have a bunch of cookie questions. I am sure that many of these have been asked in other posts, but I would like a comprehensive list of the different choices I can make to make a different textured cookie.
If you need a "point of reference" use the standard Toll House as an example, but I would like to take the info you guys supply to use on my other cookies.
1) What are the differences between using: butter, margarine, oil, and Crisco? Which produces the crispiest, which is softest? Any other pros and cons of each?
2) Cold butter/margarine versus melted butter/margarine. What differences should I expect?
3) Preheated cookie sheet (where I have the sheet in the oven as I preheat) versus cold cookie sheet just popped in the oven after the oven preheats. Would any type of cookie benefit from a warmed tray?
5) Brown sugar and white sugar....what are the differences of using ALL white or ALL brown? How much does it affect the consistency?
6) Different flour types. I have baked with whole wheat, without seeing much difference in the cookie, but are there other flours that will greatly impact the finished cookie?
7) Adding peanut butter to the batter…if I add a half of cup of PB, what should I decrease? The amount of butter, egg, or a combination?
I think those are most of the questions I have. Sorry if some of them did not make sense and/or have been discussed to death already….
1. Pros of butter: it's natural and tastes the best. That's all I need.
2. Cold butter creamed with sugar will produce fluffier cookies. The sugar crystals pierce millions of tiny holes in the butter. When the cookies are baked, these holes fill with steam and puff up the cookies. With melted butter you don't get that.
4. Get a couple Silpats.
5. Brown sugar has more moisture in it (molasses), which means more steam produced during baking.
Alton Brown did a good episode of Good Eats called 'Three Chips for Sister Marsha' in which he bakes chocolate chip cookies three different ways and explains the differences, it's available on Youtube.
1. Butter will produce flatter, crispier cookies. Oil makes soft and moist cookies. Crisco makes fluffy cookies. But I agree with Buckethead, butter tastes the best by far.
2. To add on, melted butter is usually used for denser things like brownies and pancakes. Cookie recipes rarely use melted butter.
3. The warmer the baking sheet, the more the cookies will spread.
4. Greasing generally won't hurt. I love using parchment -- no grease required, but cookies still brown nicely, which they don't always do on Silpat.
5. Brown sugar makes for chewier consistency and more molasses-like flavor.
6. Whole wheat is much heavier than regular flour and I wouldn't suggest replacing it 1-for-1 (subbing in 1/3, you should see no difference, and up to 1/2 should be pretty safe unless you're making a light, fluffy cookie).
7, I can't help, I think it depends on the recipe.
Keep us updated on your cookie-making!
4) As mentioned by some others, parchment paper is invaluable. Cookies don't stick, they continue to bake great, and it makes clean-up easy. I recommend the Reynolds brand over the natural brand I've seen at some stores--the latter doesn't come with a cutting blade on the box, so it's harder to tear off.