Why Cookies Do What They Do

I learned a lot when I was in culinary school and this is one thing I learned that was some of the best information when it came to why cookies do what they do. Cookies come in an infinite variety of shapes, sizes, flavors, and textures, Characteristics that are desirable in some types aren’t desirable in others. We want a cookie to be crisp, others to be soft. We want some to hold their shape, others to spread during baking. In order to produce the right characteristics we want and to correct faults, it is useful to know what causes the basic traits of cookies.

Crispness

Cookies are crisp if they are low in moisture. The flowing factors contribute to crispness:

  • Low proportion of liquid in the mix. Most crisp cookies are made from stiff dough.
  • High sugar and fat content. A large proportion of theses ingredients make it possible to mix workable dough with low moisture content.
  • Baking long enough to evaporate most of the moisture.
  • Small size or thin shape, so the cookie dries faster during baking.
  • Proper storage. Crisp cookies can become soft if they absorb moisture.

Softness

Softness is the opposite of crispness, so it has the opposite causes as follows:

  • High proportion of liquid in the mix.
  • Low sugar or fat.
  • Honey, molasses or corn syrup included in the formulas. These sugars are hygroscopic, which means they readily absorb moisture from the air or from their surroundings.
  • Under baking.
  • Large size or thick shapes, so they retain more moisture.
  • Proper storage. Soft cookies can become stale and dry if not tightly covered or wrapped.

Chewiness

Moisture is necessary for chewiness, but other factors are also important. In other words, all chewy cookies are soft, but not all soft cookies are chewy. The following are factors contribute to chewiness:

  • High sugar and liquid content, but low fat content.
  • High proportion of eggs.
  • Strong flour or gluten development during mixing.

Spread

Spread is desirable in some cookies, while other must hold their shape. Several factors contribute to spread or lack of it.

  • High sugar content increases spread. Coarse granulated sugar increase spread while fine sugars or confectioners sugar reduces spread.
  • High baking soda or baking ammonia content encourages spread.
  • The creaming together of fat and sugar contributes to leavening by incorporating air. Creaming a mixture until light increases spread. Blending fat and sugar just paste (without creaming in a lot of air) reduces spread.
  • Low oven temperature increases spread. High temperature decreases spread because the cookies set up before it has a chance to spread to much.
  • A slack batter, that is one with a high liquid content spread more than stiff dough.
  • Strong flour or activation of gluten decrease spread.
  • Cookies spread more if baked on a heavily greased pan.

Pineapple Ginger Smoothie

pineapple

Ingredients:

3 1/2 cups chopped Fresh Pineapple

1 Banana

1 cup Water

1 teaspoon Minced Fresh Ginger

1 tablespoon Finely Ground Flaxseeds

1 Fresh Mint Leaves

Procedure:

  1. Combine pineapple, banana, water ginger, and flaxseeds in a blender and process until smooth.
  2. Add the mint leaves and blend briefly, only until the mint leaves are just incorporated.
  3. Serve immediately.

Baked Ziti

ziti

Ingredient:

1 pound dry ziti pasta

1 onion, chopped

1 pound lean ground beef

2 (26 ounce) jars spaghetti sauce

6 ounces provolone cheese, sliced

1 ½  cups sour cream

6 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded

2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Procedure:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add ziti pasta, and cook until al dente, about 8 minutes; drain.
  3. In a large skillet, brown onion and ground beef over medium heat. Add spaghetti sauce, and simmer 15 minutes.
  4. Butter a 9×13 inch baking dish. Layer as follows: 1/2 of the ziti, Provolone cheese, sour cream, 1/2 sauce mixture, remaining ziti, mozzarella cheese and remaining sauce mixture. Top with grated Parmesan cheese.
  5. Bake for 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until cheeses are melted.

Peach Ginger Smoothie

Ingredients:

1 ¼ cup Peach Nectar

¾ cup Plain Yogurt

1 teaspoon minced fresh Ginger

3 cups Frozen Peaches or 3 cups Fresh Peaches, pitted and chopped

1 tablespoon finely ground Flaxseeds

1 ½ teaspoons Maple Syrup

½ teaspoon Vanilla Extract

½ teaspoon Freshly Squeezed lime juice

Procedure:

  1. Combine the peach nectar, yogurt, ginger and half of the peaches in a blender and process until smooth.
  2. Add the remaining peaches, the flaxseed, maple syrup, vanilla, and lime juice and blend until smooth and creamy.
  3. Serve immediately.

Layered Peanut Butter Bars


One evening I was craving something sweet and when I was in the store I came across this peanut butter bar. I thought they sounded so good so I bought then even though they were $6.00 and you only got 5. But when I got home and tried them it was mouth watering. I didn’t want to be spending that much money whenever I got a craving for them so I spent days looking for a recipe of something close to it and I found these and they are just as good as the other ones in the store.

Ingredients:

Cookie Base

Betty Crocker peanut butter cookie mix 1 pouch
vegetable oil 3 tablespoons
water 1 tablesoop
egg 1

Filling

butter, softened 1/2 cup
creamy peanut butter 1/2 cup
powdered sugar 2 cups
Milk 2 teaspoons

Frosting

semisweet chocolate chips 1 cup
butter 1/4 cup

Procedure:

  1. Heat oven to 350°F. Spray bottom of 13×9-inch pan with cooking spray.
  2. In large bowl, stir all Cookie Base ingredients until soft dough forms.
  3. Press dough in bottom of pan using floured fingers.
  4. Bake 15 to 18 minutes or until golden brown.
  5. Cool completely, about 1 hour.
  6. In small bowl, beat all Filling ingredients with electric mixer on medium speed until smooth.
  7. Spread mixture evenly over cookie base.
  8. In microwavable bowl, microwave all Frosting ingredients on High 30 seconds; stir until smooth.
  9. Cool 10 minutes; spread over filling.
  10. Refrigerate 30 minutes or until set.
  11. Cut into 9 rows by 4 rows.

BLUEBERRY MUFFINS

After seeing blueberries on the cover of a magazine I had the biggest craving for them. So I found the article with the recipe and decided to make them one Moring for breakfast, they actually turned out to be one of the best muffins I have tasted. They are pretty simple to make and don’t take long at all it’s a good pick me up in the morning and they store well so if you decided to make enough to last you a week and store them in a container you will have a quick breakfast ready already for on the go.

Ingredients:

All-Purpose Flour 2 cups
Sugar 3/4 cups plus 5 teaspoons
Baking Powder 3/4 teaspoon
Baking Soda 1/2 teaspoon
Salt 1/2 teaspoon
Milk 1/2 cup
Eggs 2
Vegetable Oil 1/2 cup
Orange Zest 1 teaspoon
Fresh Blueberries 1 cup

Procedure:

  1. Heat oven to 375 Degrees F. Coat a standard size muffin pan with nonstick cooking spray.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk flour ¾ cup of the sugar, baking powder, baking soda and the salt. Make a well in the center.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk together milk, eggs, oil, and orange zest. Pour the milk mixture into well in the flour mixture, and then sit just until combined. Fold in blueberries.
  4. Spoon batter into prepared muffin pan, 1/3 cup of batter in each cup. If any of the slots are left empty fill then with water so all muffins bake evenly.
  5. Sprinkle each muffin with ½ teaspoon of sugar. Bake for 23 to 25 minutes until crowned and lightly brown. Remove from pan and cool on wire rack.

Cucumber Sandwiches

These little tasty bites are perfect for a party or just to eat as a snack.

 

Ingredients:

Cream Cheese, softened 1 package ( 8 Ounce)
Mayonnaise 1/2 cup
Dry Italian salad dressing mix 1 package (.7 ounce)
French bread, 2 loaves
Cucumbers, sliced 2
Dried dill weed 1 pinch

cucumber

 

 

Procedure:

 

  1. In a medium bowl, mix together the cream cheese, mayonnaise and Italian dressing mix.
  2. Refrigerate for at least 6 hours, or preferably overnight.
  3. Spread the cream cheese blend onto slices of French bread.
  4. Top with a cucumber slice, and sprinkle with dill.
  5. The cream cheese mixture keeps for about a week in the refrigerator.

Baklava

Ingredients:

walnuts, chopped 3 1/2 cups
sugar 1/2 cup
ground cinnamon 1 teaspoon
ground cardamom 1/2 teaspoon
cloves 1/4 teaspoon
phyllo sheets, thawed 1 pound package
butter, melted 1 1/2 cups

Syrup:

sugar 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons
water 1 1/2 cups
honey 1/2 cup
lemon, peel only 1/4
clove 1

Procedure:

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  2. Mix together the walnuts, sugar, and spices and set aside.
  3. As you work, keep the sheets of phyllo covered with plastic wrap to keep them from drying out.
  4. Place 1 sheet of phyllo on the bottom pan (12-inch x16-inch).
  5. Brush the dough lightly with melted butter.
  6. Repeat this process until there are 8 sheets of phyllo in the pan.
  7. Sprinkle one-third of the nut mixture onto the phyllo sheets.
  8. Place 4 more sheets of phyllo on top of the nuts, brushing melted butter between each sheet.
  9. Place another one-third of the nut mixture on the dough.
  10. Layer the remaining sheets of phyllo on top of the nuts, brushing melted butter in between each sheet. Brush the top sheet with butter as well.
  11. Trim the edges so that they do not stand above the level of the dough.
  12. Cut the pastry into 2-inch squares, making sure not to slice through the bottom layer of phyllo dough. Leaving the bottom layer uncut will allow the syrup to soak in more efficiently.
  13. Bake at 375°F for 25–30 minutes or until the top layer of the phyllo takes on a light golden brown color.
  14. While the dough bakes prepare the syrup. Combine all of the ingredients and bring to a boil. Remove the clove and lemon peel.
  15. Remove the pan from the oven and immediately pour hot syrup over the baklava.
  16. Before serving allow the baklava to stand at room temperature until cooled. Slice through the bottom layer of phyllo dough and serve.

Crepes

Ingredients:

All-Purpose Flour 1 1/2 cups
Eggs 3
Milk 3/4 cups
Water 3/4 cups
Salt 1/4 teaspoon
Butter, Melted 3 tablespoons

Procedure:

  1. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour and the eggs.
  2. Gradually add in the milk and water, stirring to combine.
  3. Add the salt and butter; beat until smooth.
  4. Heat a lightly oiled griddle or frying pan over medium high heat.
  5. Pour or scoop the batter onto the griddle, using approximately 1/4 cup for each crepe.
  6. Tilt the pan with a circular motion so that the batter coats the surface evenly.
  7. Cook the crepe for about 2 minutes, until the bottom is light brown. Loosen with a spatula, turn and cook the other side. Serve hot.
  8. Top with fruits and whip cream.

Apple Walnut Turnovers

Ingredients:

Apple Pie filling

Puff Pastry

Sabayon

Walnuts

Procedure:

  1. Prepare Pie filling as directed, but chop the apples into small pieces.
  2. Prepare turnovers.
  3. Bake at 400 degrees F or until crisp and golden brown.
  4. Cut the warm turnovers in half and spread in half.
  5. In the space between spoon in a pool of sabayon.
  6. Sprinkle sauce with chopped walnuts.

Procedure on Turnovers:

  1. Roll puff pastry dough 1/8 inch think.
  2. Cut into 4 inch squares. Wash the edges of each with water.
  3. Place filling on one half of the square, and then fold the opposite corner over.
  4. Press the edges together and with a fork puncture the tops in two or three places to allow steam to escape. Let them sit for about 30 min.
  5. Brush the tops with egg wash and sprinkle with sugar.

Filling

Apples, Peeled and Sliced 2 pounds
Butter 2 tablespoons
Sugar 1/3 cup
Water, cold 1/4 cup
Cornstarch 2 tablespoons
Sugar 1/3 cup
Salt 1/5 teaspoon
Cinnamon 1 teaspoon
Nutmeg 1/4 teaspoon
Lemon Juice 2 teaspoons
Butter 1/2 tablespoon
Walnuts 3/4 cup

Procedure (filling):

  1. Sauté the apples lightly in first quantity of butter until they are slightly softened. Add the first quantity of sugar as the apples cook. Let simmer.
  2. Mix the water and the starch until smooth. Add this mixture to the apples and boil until the liquid is thick and clear.
  3. Removed from heat. Add the remaining ingredients. Stir gently until the sugar is dissolved and the butter is melted.
  4. Cool completely.
  5. Mix in walnuts.

Puff Pastry

Bread Flour 2 cups
Salt 2 teaspoons
Butter, Melted 5 tablespoons
Water 1 cup
Butter (for rolling) 1 1/4 cup

Procedure (Puff Pastry):

  1. Mix the flour and the salt. Place the flour in a mound on a large enough surface you have to work with and make a well in the center of the flour mound.
  2. Pour melted butter and water into the center. Gradually stir from the inside outward to incorporate the flour into the liquids, making dough.
  3. Once the dough has formed, knead briefly just until it is smooth. Don’t overwork the dough it will become to elastic and difficult to work with. Gather the dough into a smooth ball.
  4. Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate for 30 min.
  5. Take the butter and place between plastic and soften it and flatten it out by beating with the rolling pin.
  6. Roll out the down into a large rectangle.
  7. With the butter still in the plastic, roll it out and square the edges with the rolling pin to make it a rectangle about 2/3 the size of the dough.
  8. Removed butter from plastic and place it on the bottom 2/3 of the dough. Fold the top third of the dough down over the center to cover half the butter. Fold the bottom 1/3 over the center. The butter should now be enclosed in the dough making 2 layers of butter between 3 layers of dough.
  9. Roll out to a rectangle then fold into thirds again, refrigerate for 30 minutes. Then repeat 3 more times with roll out, folding and refrigerating.

Sabayon

Egg Yolks 4 yolks
Simple Syrup 7 tablespoons
Whipped Crème 1/4 cup

Procedure (Sabayon):

  1. Mix the egg yolks and syrup in a stainless-steel bowl.
  2. Place the bowl over a hot water bath and whip until light, frothy, and pale color.
  3. Remove the bowl from the hot water bath and continue to whip until cool and doubled in volume.
  4. Gently fold in the whip cream.