Monday, May 25, 2009

Dreaming about Oatmeal Cookies

The cookie trifecta: chocolate chip, peanut butter, and oatmeal. Of these three, oatmeal is arguably the most versatile. Some recipes use more oats (up to three cups) to create a chewy cookie while others call for less oats, producing a leaner and crispier cookie, such as the batch pictured above. Additives can vary from the classic raisins to chocolate or butterscotch chips, other dried fruit such as dates or cherries, coconut, walnuts, or a combination of these.

There are a million oatmeal cookie recipes out there in the big city. When you are ready to bake, choose one that calls for butter rather than vegetable shortening. Why? Taste. Butter provides a lively taste to what may otherwise be a heavy cookie. Shortening? Not so much, in my opinion.

Additionally, a key technique in cookie baking is to refrigerate the dough 24-hours (or at least overnight) before baking. According to Shirley Corriher, a chemist and author of Bakewise: The Hows and Whys of Successful Baking, "[o]vernight, the proteins and the starch soak in liquid, the enzymes break the starches into sugar and big sugar breaks down into smaller sugar. Small sugars brown well . . . ." Chemist Divulges How To Bake The Perfect Cookie, (December 17, 2008). Try this when you next bake oatmeal cookies; I think you'll agree that it produces better results.

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