The idea of great cookies from scratch is what brings people back to their kitchens this time of year. Even people that don’t bake for the other eleven months of the year, somehow find themselves back in the kitchen for holiday cookie time.
Whether you have fond childhood memories of baking with Mom or Grandma, want to be sure of the ingredients that go into your cookies, or share time with your children, making cookies from scratch is a great way to accomplish all these things.
You’ll have more pride making your own cookies than simply slicing the grocery cookie dough log. Creating your own cookie dough is quite simple, but it’s not the right recipe that takes your cookies from fair to fantastic, it’s the mixing method that does that.
The great majority of cookies are made with a “creaming method”. When you master the simple steps of this method, ANY cookie recipe will turn out better.
Steps for the creaming method:
1) Measure all ingredients carefully – This is baking not cooking, and precise proportions are mandatory for arriving at consistently excellent results. Be aware of the difference between weight and volume measurements, and have all your ingredients ready before starting the next steps.
2) Cream the fat and sugar - This is why it’s called “the creaming method”. Mixing fat and sugar together will add air to your holiday cookies. Air will give you the lightest, crunchiest cookies from scratch.
3) Add eggs - The protein in egg yolks not only act as an emulsifier, binding the usually unmixable fat and liquid, but also give structure to cookies. This is the most important step in your cooking making process and the egg MUST be added very slowly to create the emulsification.
4) Add any liquid - Many cookie recipes don’t have any liquid in the formula, so you’ll usually be skipping this step. But, if the formula calls for milk or cream, it’s added after the eggs.
5) Sifted dry ingredients – Sifting flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, or seasonings together not only gives a consistent mixture, but also adds air, again giving you a lighter cookie.
6) Chips, nuts, raisins – These items are added last because they just need to be mixed in. You don’t want to break up all the pecans or chip your chocolate chips with over mixing
Even the best cookies from scratch can still be ruined if you follow the above procedure exactly. While mixing is the most important part of making cookies, portioning and baking can be the destruction of well mixed cookie dough.
Portioning cookies so that they are exactly the same size will allow them to cook consistently. This helps avoid the one cookie that’s burned while another is under-cooked on the same tray. Use an ice cream scoop or other portioning device that will accomplish exact duplicates of each cookie.
Making your own cookies from scratch is very simple, and you can gain power over all cookie formulas by having the underlying command of the creaming method.
Do you have a favorite holiday cookie? Leave a comment below.
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