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Cookies

Cookies are often referred to as small, sweet cake items. They are very similar
to cakes in the type of ingredients used and the methods of mixing them. They
differ from cakes in the proportion of ingredients and panning methods. The
primary difference between cookies and cakes is the amount of moisture in the
mixture.

Ingredients
1) Sugar
It is a major ingredient in most cookie mixtures. The type of sugar used and
the quantity both affect the spread of the cookie as it cooks. A coarse sugar
will cause a creamed cookie to spread a great deal when baked. An extremely
fine sugar, confectioner’s sugar, may restrict the spread of the cookie too
much and may cause the fat to separate from the mix if the cookie is to be
bagged (piped). Finely granulated sugar is the best for most cookies.

2) Fat
This is also a major ingredient in many cookies. It is the fat that gives a cookie
its richness. The type of fat chosen can affect the flavour and handling
characteristics of the cookie dough. Butter gives the best flavour; however, it
has a low melting point and may not stand up to the handling. For rolled
cookie dough, shortening has better plasticity at normal temperatures.
Shortening has a higher melting point and an acceptable flavour, but not the
rich flavour of butter. The best results will be achieved with a blend of
shortening and butter.

3) Flour:
It is the primary source of structure in the cookie. Majority of cookie formulae
requires a blend of hard and soft wheat flour. The gluten in the flour should
not be developed when the cookie dough is mixed or the result will be a
tough cookie.

4) Eggs
They are very important to the structure and flavour of the cookie. Increased
egg content will reduce cookie spread and increase flavour. They also assist
in holding the sugar in the mixture.

5) Milk or Water
These are the liquids most commonly used in cookie doughs. Liquids must
be used cautiously for too much can slacken the mixture that will cause the
cookie to spread too much.

Types of Cookie Doughs


Cookie doughs are classified according to the method by which they are mixed.
They are placed in three categories:
1) Stiff Dough
Formulae of stiff dough contain less liquid, eggs and flour than soft cookies.
These cookies are often referred to as sliced or roll cookies. The desirable
finished product is a crisp cookie. This type of cookie includes peanut butter
cookies and sugar cookies.
2) Soft Dough
This batter has high moisture content and requires a greater percentage of
eggs to build structure. The desired finished product is a soft, moist cookie.
Cookies in this category are drop cookies like butterscotch and chocolate.
3) Refrigerator Dough
They are mixed in the same manner as other doughs, except this dough is
very stiff. The resulting cookie is very brittle. After the mixing is completed,
the dough is weighed off into pieces of convenient size. The dough is then
formed into rolls, which may be wrapped and refrigerated until needed. This
eliminates waste and provides a ready source of dessert at short notice.

Mixing Methods
Mixing methods for cookies is similar to that for battercakes. The primary factors
in making a quality cookie are proper mixing and temperature control. Although
cookie dough is often chilled after mixing to facilitate shaping, the ingredients
should be approximately 65-70ºF when mixing.
1) Creaming Method
The conventional or creaming method is the one most commonly used for
cookies. Cookie doughs should be mixed just enough to blend the ingredients
thoroughly. The longer the creaming of the shortening/fat and the sugar, the
less spread the cookie will have due to dissolving of the sugar crystals. Under
creaming, will give the cookie a coarse structure and will result in a baked
product that has spread. Once creaming is complete, flour is added to the
mixture. Over-mixing develops the gluten in the dough and retards the spread
of the cookie.
2) One Stage Method
This method is the counterpart of the blending or two stage method. Cake
batters have more liquid so they must be mixed in two stages in order to
blend uniformly. Cookies on the other hand can be mixed in one stage.
3) Sponge Method
This method is essentially the same as for egg foam methods in cakes. The
procedure varies considerably, depending on the ingredients. Batches should
be kept small because the batter is delicate. Care should be taken when
folding in the dry ingredients so as not to deflate the batter. Cookies like
macaroons are made by this method.

Panning, Baking and Cooling


Preparing the pans
1) Use clean, un-warped pans
2) Lining the pans with butter paper or silicone sheets is fast and eliminates the
necessity of greasing pans.
3) A heavily greased pan increases the spread of the cookie. A greased and
floured pan decreases the spread of the cookie.
4) Some high fat cookies can be baked on un-greased pans.

Baking Cookies
1) Moist cookies are baked at a relatively high temperature for a short time.
2) Too low a temperature increases the spread of the cookie and may produce
dry, hard, pale cookies.
3) Too high a temperature decreases spreading and may burn the edges or
bottoms.
4) Even a minute can burn cookies, also take into consideration carry over
cooking, i.e. the heat of the pan continues to cook the cookies.
5) Doneness is indicated by colour. The edges and bottoms should just be
turning a light golden brown colour.
6) With some rich dough, burnt bottoms may be a problem. In this case, double
pan the cookies by placing one baking pan over the other of the same size.
Proper baking is a major factor in the production of a quality cookie. A cool oven
produces a pale colour, while a hot oven may produce too dark a colour. Steam
often has a softening effect on cookies in an oven, giving them a greater chance
to spread before they set. Cookies should be on the soft side when removed
from the oven. The heat from the cookie and the pan will continue to cook/dry
the cookie while it cools. Over-baking dries out the cookie and reduces flavour
and taste.

Cooling Cookies
1) Remove cookies from pans while they are still warm or they may stick.
2) If cookies are very soft do not remove from pans until they are cool and firm
enough to handle. Cookies may be soft when hot, but crisp when cool.
3) Do not cool too rapidly or in cold drafts, or cookies may crack.
4) Cool completely before storing.