Tuesday, February 5, 2008


Melt in your mouth cookies made with heavenly chocolate is an unbeatable combination. For those who would like to expand their cookie baking skills, I’ve also included easy-to-follow directions for special touches, such as pinwheel, cut-out and checkerboard cookies.

There are five basic types of cookies: bar, drop, refrigerator, rolled and shaped. These types are determined by the consistency of the dough and how it is formed into cookies.
Bar Cookies: Always use the pan size called for in the recipe. Using a different size will affect the cookies’texture; a smaller pan will give a more cakelike texture and a larger pan will give a drier texture.
Drop cookies: Cookies that are uniform in size and shape will finish baking at the same time. To easily shape drop cookies into a uniform size, use an ice cream scoop with a release bar. The bar usually has a number on it indicating the number of scoops that can be made from one litter of ice cream. The handiest size for cookies is a #80 or #90 scoop. This will yield about one rounded teaspoonful of dough for each cookies.
Refrigerator Cookies: Always shape the dough into rolls before chilling. Shaping is easier if you first place the dough on a piece of waxed paper or plastic wrap. Before chilling, wrap the rolls securely in plastic wrap or air may cause the dough to dry out.
Use gentle pressure and a back-and-forth sawing motion with a sharp knife when slicing the rolls; this helps the cookies keep their nice round shape. Rotating the roll while slicing also keeps one side from flattening.
Rolled Cookies: Chill the cookies dough before rolling for easier handling. Remove only enough dough from the refrigerator to work with at one time. Save any trimmings and reroll them all at once to prevent the dough from becoming tough.
Shaped Cookies: These cookies can be simply hand-shaped into balls or crescents or forced through a cookie press into more complex shapes.

If the recipe calls for a cookie press, do not shape the cookies by hand unless the recipe states that you may do so. The consistency of the dough was created to work in a cookie press.
When using a cookie press, if your first efforts are not successful, just place the dough back into the cookie press.

Unsweetened Chocolate: Also called bitter or baking chocolate, this is pure chocolate with no sugar or flavorings added. It is used in baking and is packaged in individually wrapped 1-ounce (28g) squares.
Bittersweet Chocolate: This is pure chocolate with some sugar added. Bittersweet chocolate is available in 1-ounce (28g) squares or in a bars. If unavailable, substitute half unsweetened chocolate and half semisweet chocolate.
Semisweet Chocolate: This is pure chocolate combined with some sugar and extra cocoa butter. It is sold in a variety of forms, including 1-ounce (28g) squares, bars, chips and chunks.’
Milk Chocolate: This is pure chocolate with sugar, extra cocoa butter and milk solids added. It is available in various shapes – bars, chips, stars etc.
Sweet Cooking Chocolate: This is pure chocolate combined with extra cocoa butter and sugar. It is available in bars.
White Chocolate: This is not considered real chocolate since most or all of the cocoa butter has been removed and replaced with another vegetable fat. White chocolate is available in chips and bars.
Unsweetened Cocoa: This is formed by extracting most of the cocoa butter from pure chocolate and grinding the remaining chocolate solids into a powder. Since most of the cocoa butter is removed, it is low in fat.

Take the guesswork out of cookie baking by practicing the following techniques:
- Read the recipe before you begin.
- Remove butter, margarine and cream cheese from the refrigerator to soften, if necessary.
- Toast and chop nuts, peel and slice fruit and melt chocolate before preparing the dough.
- Measure all the ingredients accurately. Assemble them as directed in the recipe.
- When making bar cookies or brownies, use the pan size specified in the recipe. Prepare the pans according to the recipe directions. Adjust oven racks and preheat the oven. Check oven temperature for accuracy with an oven thermometer.
- Follow recipe directions and baking times.Check doneness with the test given in the recipe.

Dry Ingredients:
- Always use standardized “dry” measuring spoons and “dry” measuring cups. Fill the correct measuring spoon or cup to overflowing and level it off with a metal spatula.
- Use “dry”measures to measure flour, brown sugar, granulated sugar, peanut butter, chocolate chips, sour cream, yogurt, nuts, dried fruit, coconut,chopped fresh fruit, preserved and jams.
- when measuring flour, lightly spoon it into a measuring cup, then level it off. Do not tap or bang the measuring cup as this will pack the flour.
- When measuring brown sugar, pack the sugar by pressing it into the cup. It should be the shape of the cup when turned out.
Liquid Ingredients:
- Use a standardized glass or plastic measuring cup (liquid measuring cup) with a pouring spout. Place the cup on a flat surface and fill to the desired mark. Check measurement at eye level.
- When measuring sticky liquids, such as honey and molasses, grease the measuring cup of spray it with nonstick cooking spray to make removal easier.

- The best cookie sheets to use are those with no sides or up to two short sides. They allow the heat to circulate easily during baking and promote even browning.
- For even baking and browning place only one cookie sheet at a time in the center of the oven. If the cookies brown unevenly, rotate the cookie sheet from front to back halfway through the baking time.
- When baking more than one sheet of cookies at a time, rotate them from top to bottom halfway through the baking time.
- For best results, use shortening or a non stick cooking spray to grease cookie sheets. Or, just line the cookie sheets with parchment paper; it eliminates cleanup, bakes the cookies more evenly and allows them to cool right on the paper instead of on wire racks.
- Allow cookie sheets to cool between batches, as the dough spreads if placed on a hot cookie sheet.
- To avoid overbaking cookies, check them at the minimum baking time. If more time is needed, watch carefully to make sure they don’t burn. It is usually better to slightly underbake than to overbake cookies.
- many cookies should be removed from cookie sheets immediately after baking and placed in a single layer on wire racks to cool. Fragile cookies may need to cool slightly on the cookie sheet before removing to wire racks to cool completely.Bar cookies and brownies may be cooled and stored right in the baking pan.

- Unbaked cookie dough can usually be refrigerated for up to one week or frozen for up to six weeks. Label dough with baking information for convenience.
- Store soft and crisp cookies separately at room temperature to prevent changes in texture and flavor. Keep soft cookies in airtight containers. If they begin to dry out, add a piece of apple or bread to the container to help them retain moisture. If crisp cookies become soggy, heat undecorated cookies in a 300F (150C) oven for 3 to 5 minutes.
- Store cookies with sticky glazes, fragile decorations and icings in single layers between sheets of waxed paper. Bar cookies and brownies may be stored in their own baking pans. Cover with foil or plastic wrap when cool.
- As a rule, crisp cookies freeze better than soft, moist cookies. Rich, buttery bar cookies and brownies are exceptions to this rule since they freeze extremely well. Baked cookies can be frozen in airtight containers or freezer bags for up to three months. Meringue-based cookies do not freeze well and chocolate-dipped cookies may discolor if frozen. Cookies and brownies unwrapped at room temperature.


Products: Bouillon cubes, granulated broth, yeast extract
Aroma: all salty extracts are, obviously salty. They tend also to be spicy and piquant.
Use: salty extracts are popular products and substitute for salt in piquant dishes. Besides seasoning soups and stews, they are used to spice meat and fish dishes, vegetable dishes, sauces, souffl├ęs and savory cakes.
Buying/storing: their best-before data is always printed on the package. The products should be stored in a dry, dark and cool place, such as a cupboard. The jars should be closed very tightly because the extracts absorb humidity from the air, which makes measuring the instant powder more difficult.


- History: Bouillon cubes are classic soup spices. Sold by the Maggi company for the first time in 1990, they have been an integral part of its assortment ever since. Bouillon cubes became the basis of soups and stews in the 1970’s and 1980’s, but lately they have been replaced by granulated broth or instant broth. Frequently substituted for salt, bouillon cubes remain essential ingredients in broths.
- Manufacturing method: Bouillon cubes consist of thickened meat or vegetable extract. The water is drained and the extract is freeze-dried in cubes. Bones, meat, and cubed vegetable are roasted in fat and placed in water to simmer. The individual ingredients slowly release substances while simmering. All is seasoned with spices and salt. If industrially prepared, this broth is thickened and freeze-dried.

- History: in the 19th century, Justus von Liebig, a German chemist, and Louis Pasteur, A French biologist and chemist, invented a procedure industrial extracts which could last a long time. Yeast extract as a spice experienced its renaissance at the beginning of the last century along with the discovery of vitamin B and its effect on human organism because yeast is rich in B-vitamin.
- Manufacturing method: There are two methods for manufacturing yeast extract. In autolysis, 122F (50C) warm water is added toyeast cultures. At this temperature, yeast cells die, but the enzymes of cell contens remain active. The yeast enzymes erode the cell contents remain active. The yeast enzymes erode the cell walls and the contents can leave while the proteins decompose into amino acids. The liquid is consequently filtered and evaporated. Acid hydrolysis is a chemical process in which yeast cultures are heated and neutralized with hydrochloride acids, caustic soda or with sodium carbonate. The decomposition and fermentation of yeast cultures are accelerated in the second process.

Tips for cooking:
Use salty extracts instead of salt, but watch out! Too much salt is overpowering. Many instant powders are added to cold dishes while others only to hot liquids. When preparing a cold dish, pay attention to the directions on the package.