Thursday, January 19, 2012

How to Make Cookies the Right Way?

What is the cookie method you may ask? Well, let me tell you. The cookie method is the fancy (or not so fancy depending on how you look at it) way that professional chefs say "how to mix your cookies right". There are three different ways of mixing including; the one-stage method, the creaming method (this is the one we will be concentrating on the most today), and the sponge method. Here is a brief overview of each.

The One-Stage Method -

This method is not used very much because the baker has less control over the mixing than with other methods. However, when you are making a recipe where over-mixing isn't going to be a problem, like with chewy cookies, this method can be used. The basic procedure goes like this- Measure all of your ingredients. Let them all come to room temperature. Put them in a mixer all at once and mix them until they are uniformly blended. Make sure you're scraping the sides of the bowl now and then so you don't end up with clumps of flour in your cookies because that's disgusting. Mmmmm flour clumps-not! This method is simple and quick and even a child could do it. It is good for macaroons, some bars and a few other recipes. So moving on....

The Creaming Method -

Although I've never Googled this fact or anything, I think it is safe to say that this is the most commonly used method of making cookies. It is what you use when you make chocolate chip cookies, sugar cookies, oatmeal raisin cookies and several others. The amount you "cream" will affect your cookies texture, the leavening and how much it spreads. You should only cream a little if you want your cookies to hold their shape (you don't want to loose the edges on those pretty Christmas Trees). If your cookie is short (chef talk for "high in fat and low in gluten development") or if you are making one of those very delicate thin cookies, too much creaming will make your cookie crumble-literally. So here is the basic procedure;

1. measure all of your ingredients 
2. let them come to room temperature 
3. put the fat, sugar, salt, and spices into the mixing bowl and cream them on low speed 
* note that you can also blend your spices and salt into your dry ingredients 
* for lighter cookies, cream until light and fluffy, this incorporates more air for leavening 
* for denser cookies, cream to a smooth paste, but do not cream until light 
4. add the eggs and any liquid and blend at low speed 
5. blend in your dry ingredients (flour, baking soda, baking powder) 
* mix just until combined, you're making cookies, not bread

If you follow these basic steps, you should come out with a pretty nice cookie in the end. If your cookies still are coming out like crappies, check out the "what's wrong with my cookies" at the end of this article. And last but not least...

The Sponge Method -

This procedure can vary considerably, depending on the ingredients you're using. The batches should be kept small because the batter is super delicate, in other words, don't double recipes that require this method because your cookies won't come out. This method is generally used for meringue cookies.

1. measure your ingredients 
2. let them come to room temperature (for greater volume warm your eggs a little) 
3. whip your eggs and sugar together until the desired consistency 
* soft peaks if you're only whipping whites, thick and light if you're whipping yolks or whole eggs 
4. fold in the rest of the ingredients according to the recipe

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