EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

February 7, 2014

Cookies: Baking tips, two recipes to make

Pat's Kitchen
Patricia Altomare

---- — Have you ever wondered what makes cookies chewy, crisp, soft, flat, cake-y, moist, or crunchy?

Various ingredients and techniques can affect the taste, texture, and appearance of your cookies.

Baking powder: Using only baking powder will produce results that are cakier and puffed while baking.

Using baking powder and baking soda produces results that are crisp at the edges, soft in the middle, with a good amount of spread. If brown sugar is used in a recipe, it is considered an acid and requires baking soda as the leavening agent.

More flour produces cookies that are more crumbly with very little spread. The cookies remain small yet thick and relatively undercooked in the middle.

All granulated sugar: Cookies come out flat, light, chewy, and crunchy with a mild flavor.

All brown sugar produces cookies that are thick, brown, and soft with a slight butterscotch flavor. The best cookies are when an equal ratio of granulated and brown sugars are used.

Crunchy or soft: If you prefer your cookies flatter, chewier, or crisper, use more granulated sugar. If you prefer them softer and thicker, use more brown sugar.

Chilling the dough: Chilling dough before shaping and baking produces cookies that are a little thicker, chewier, darker, and with a more pronounced flavor. If you have time, try chilling your next cookie dough for at least 24 hours.

Drop cookies: Use a scoop instead of a spoon, quicker and more uniform. There are different sizes in the kitchen stores.

Now it’s time to simply enjoy baking. Try one or both of the very different cookie recipes below.

Let’s face it, cookies will never be a health food, but with flaxseed, wheat germ, oats, walnuts, dark chocolate and cranberries, we can enjoy a sweet that has upped the antioxidants “a bit.” Next time I make these oatmeal cookies I will try white whole wheat flour to replace the all-purpose and will definitely double the recipe.

Oatmeal Cookies “a Bit” Healthier

Makes about 30 cookies

1/4 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup packed brown sugar

1/3 cup granulated sugar

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 egg

1 teaspoon vanilla

3/4 cup all-purpose flour

3/4 cup rolled oats

1/4 cup flaxseed meal

1/4 cup wheat germ

2 ounces dark chocolate, finely chopped

1/4 cup dried cranberries

1/4 cup chopped walnuts, toasted

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add brown sugar, granulated sugar, cinnamon, baking soda, and salt. Beat until combined, scraping sides of bowl occasionally.

3. Beat in egg and vanilla until combined.

4. Beat in flour.

5. Stir in rolled oats, flax meal, wheat germ, chocolate, cranberries, and walnuts (dough will be a little crumbly).

6. Drop dough by rounded teaspoons 2 inches apart onto ungreased cookie sheets.

7. Bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until tops are lightly browned. Let cookies cool on cookie sheet for 1 minute.

8. Transfer cookies to wire rack to cool.

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This cookie recipe is from the Riverbend Inn Bed & Breakfast, a romantic inn in Chocorua, N.H. Keepsake recipe cards are handed out each year during December’s festive “Inn to Inn” Holiday tour.

Orange & White Chocolate Cookies

Makes 3 dozen

1 cup butter, softened

2/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 large egg

1 tablespoon grated orange rind

2 teaspoons orange extract

21/4 cups all-purpose flour

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

12 ounces (2 cups) white chocolate chips or chunks

1. Beat butter and sugars at medium speed with an electric mixer until creamy.

2. Add egg, orange rind and extract, beating until blended.

3. Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a bowl; gradually add to sugar mixture, beating until just blended.

4. Stir in chocolate chips.

5. Drop by rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased (or silpat-lined) baking sheets. Bake at 350 degrees for 10 to 12 minutes or until edges of cookies are lightly browned. Cool on baking sheets for two minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Patricia Altomare invites feedback. Email her at patakitchen@yahoo.com.