Creaming the liquids
In the last article, we talked about the importance of creaming the butter and sugar. Now we're going to add the liquids to this essential creamed mixture.
Eggs and any flavorings, such as vanilla extract, and liquids such as milk, molasses, honey, and any soft items such as cream cheese or peanut butter are added during this stage of mixing. They are the major source of moisture and protein in the cookie dough. But first, let's talk about the egg.
Eggs primary function is to contribute to the structure of the cookie, but they also add flavor and color and are also responsible for making the cookie chewy. Eggs are a leavening agent and the yolks add fat for a tender and light texture. The liquid from the egg white forms steam and gets trapped in the cookie, puffing it up and acting like the frame of a building by bonding the flour together. When the gas bubbles burst, the proteins hold the cookie in the shape it had when the bubbles were still intact. The yolks also act to make a smooth and even texture in the finished cookie.
Many cookie recipes call for eggs to be at room temperature. If you use room temperature ones, it could soften the texture of the creamed mixture. To keep the butter nice and pliable, the eggs should be about the same temperature as the butter. Use eggs at a temperature of about 65°F when baking since the whites and yolks will combine easier and more evenly into the batter (leading to a better, airier cookie texture).
Getting eggs to the right temperature is really easy - just place the eggs in a bowl of tap water for 10 to 15 minutes. This slight chill helps to keep the butter as firm as possible through this mixing stage.
Always use the size of egg called for in the recipe. If the recipe calls for more than one, add slightly beaten eggs one at a time. Add each egg slowly on low speed, then beat on medium speed after each addition until all of the streaks have disappeared. Make sure the eggs are evenly blended by scraping the sides of the bowl a couple of times to make sure they get evenly distributed throughout the batter.
Add soft items such as creamed cheese or peanut butter before adding the eggs. Blend thoroughly on medium speed with the creamed mixture. And don't forget to scrape that bowl a couple of times!
In the final step of creaming, blend in the vanilla, molasses and any other liquids together with the creamed mixture on medium speed until fully incorporated. We'll say it again, don't forget to scrape the sides of the bowl to get everything mixed together.
Stay in touch for the next article where we will mix the dry goods and add them to the creamed mixture.
Now on to this week's recipe:
• 3/4 cup butter flavored shortening
• 1 cup sugar • 1 large egg
• 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
• 1/4 cup molasses
• 2 cups all-purpose flour
• 1½ teaspoons baking soda
• 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
• 1 tablespoon ground ginger
• 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
• 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
• 1/4 teaspoon salt
1. Combine the flour, baking powder, spices and salt in a bowl and mix with a whisk until fully blended, about 30 seconds.
2. Mix the shortening in the bowl of a stand mixer for about one minute until fluffy on medium speed. Add the sugar slowly on low speed until combined. Once the sugar has been incorporated, beat the mixture on medium speed until fluffy and blended.
3. Reduce the mixer speed to low and slowly add the slightly beaten egg, vanilla and molasses, scraping down the sides of the bowl as necessary. Mix on medium speed until combined.
4. Add the dry ingredients to the mixture in three installments on low speed. Mix until just combined with no streaks of flour.
5. Divide the dough in half and shape each half into a flattened disk, and wrap in plastic. Refrigerate for an hour or until firm.
6. About 15 to 20 minutes before baking, position oven rack to center position. Preheat oven to 375°F. Remove one dough package from the refrigerator. Bake the cookies one sheet at a time for best results.
7. Scoop the dough in rounded tablespoon-sized balls and roll in sugar of your choice. Place balls 2 inches apart on parchment lined cookie sheet.
8. Bake about 7 minutes or until tops are crackled and edges are firm. Cool 1 minute on baking sheets before transferring cookies to racks to cool completely. Cool the cookie sheet for the next batch. Makes about 3 dozen cookies. Store the cookies in an air tight container up to 3 days or freeze for 3 months.
Note: This recipe was created for baking at
an elevation of 4,000 feet.