June 9, 2003

Crispy vs. Chewy

A couple years back, my friend Deb and I got together for a big holiday cookie baking binge. Our aim was to send the fruits, er...baked goods, of our labor to various friends as a token of the holiday spirit. And also to get to spend some quality time together doing something we both enjoy.

We'd baked together before - mostly for the supplies we bring to ACUS, but during this particular endeavor, a discussion arose concerning the fact that our chocolate chip cookies never seemed to have the same consistency; hers were crispier and mine were chewier. It wasn't until some time later that the reason was accidentally discovered (if I remember correctly, on FoodTV).

Apparently, it's all in the shortening. Or the butter. Here's why...

Butter, which has a very low melting point, will cause the cookies to spread out rapidly in the oven, and thus the cookies will be flatter and crispier. Shortening, because of its higher melting point, will hold the cookie together better. The problem being that many people feel this affects the flavor of the cookie. Recently, I've run across a few suggestions to use half shortening and half butter, so that one might get both the taste and the fluffier cookies. And conventional wisdom is to never, ever, ever use margarine -- apparently it suffers from the flaws of butter with none of the taste advantage.

I've decided I prefer them chewy, but I may attempt my next batch with half butter just to see if it really does make that much of a difference in taste.

Posted by Jennifer at June 9, 2003 9:47 PM
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