The Cookie Crumbles This Way

Homemade cookies are always a welcome treat, so when I received a request for chewy cookie recipes, I didn’t have to think twice.

Follow recipes closely and measure ingredients carefully for best results; using the correct ingredients is key.
Here are some other pointers adapted from allrecipes.com.

Fats. Cookies are made primarily with butter, margarine or shortening. Fats play a major role in the spread of a cookie — whether a cookie keeps its shape or flattens in the oven. Shortening and margarine are stable, and will help cookies keep their original unbaked shapes. Cookies made with butter tend to spread out. Whipped spreads are not suitable for baking; use solid 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 cake flour, which is high in starch, produce cookies that tend to spread less. (The gluten in the bread flour and the absorbant starch in cake flour are responsible for the similar 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 two most common leaveners in cookies. Baking soda neutralizes the acidity of the dough, allowing the cookies to brown in the oven. Since baking powder already contains its own acid, it will not reduce the acidity in the dough, and the resulting cookies will be puffier and lighter in color.

Sugars. Like fats, sugars liquefy in the oven. White sugar makes a crisper cookie than brown sugar or honey. Cookies made from brown sugar will absorb moisture after baking, helping to ensure that they stay chewy. Most chocolate chip cookie recipes contain both brown and white sugars. If you lower the amount of sugar called for in a cookie recipe, the final baked cookie will be puffier than its high-sugar counterpart.

Eggs and Liquids. Eggs are a binding agent. Liquids can either cause cookies to puff up or spread. If egg is the liquid, it will create a puffy, cake-like texture. Just a tablespoon or two of water or other liquid will help your cookies spread into flatter and crisper rounds.

Mixing. Cookies are not as delicate as cakes, but proper mixing is still important. Some recipes require a creaming step in which the fat and sugars are beaten together until light-colored and fluffy. Other cookies require a sandy texture, so the fat is cut into the flour. Over-mixing can incorporate too much air into the dough, resulting in flat, overly spread-out cookies..

Temperature. Unless otherwise specified, ingredients should be at room temperature before mixing. Cookie dough that is chilled before baking will hold its shape better. Rolled and cut-out cookies should be refrigerated before baking for sharper, clearer edges. Drop cookies, such as chocolate chip or oatmeal cookies, can be at room temperature before baking; the spoonfuls of dough will spread and flatten out to the desired result.

Generally, cookies are baked in a moderate oven — 350 — for 8 to 12 minutes, depending on the size of the cookie. For chewy cookies, allow them to cool longer on the pan (3 to 5 minutes) than crispy cookies (only 1 minute) — before transferring to a cooling rack.

Happy Baking!

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