Cookies are amazing. There’s so many ways you can make them. You can somewhat throw together a bunch of ingredients and it might actually turn into a cookie. The trick is to make small batches at a time, in case everything goes disastrously wrong. A quick note, this article is a bit different from normal SPUFood recipes. It’s a bit more talk-y. This is more of a guide than anything else.
Ideally, you want the following, just as your basic cookie mixture.
- 1 cup of flour
- 1 cup of sugar
- 1 egg
- 1/2 cup butter
If you want them to rise then you want to use Baking Powder, if you want them to sink then you want to use Bicarbonate of Soda. These are two separate things so please read the labels before using them.
If you want something closer to a sugar cookie, then you want more flour and butter. If you want a richer cookie, you want more sugar and eggs. If you want something closer to a cake, then you want more flour and eggs plus a raising agent (either baking powder or using self-raising flour). If you want something chewy, then you want to use brown sugar rather than just white sugar.
After that, it all depends. Honey, syrup and treacle are good for adding a bit of a caramel flavour to your cookies or if the cookie dough is too floury, but milk will often do the job as well. Cocoa powder is always good to have, and I’d recommend unsweetened ones over sweetened cocoa. Instant coffee granules also add an interesting flavour if you’re using dark chocolate. Vanilla is almost always suggested in cookie recipes but I never have any. Peanut butter is always good. Oats work nicely, but you can’t do more than 50% oats otherwise your cookies will turn into a weird, brownie-like explosion except less tasty.
Fillings are important too. I mean, you could have plain cookies but what’s the point? Personally I like raisins with a hint of cinnamon, but you can throw anything in and it’ll be fine. Chocolate chips, smarties and M&Ms, things like that. Two words of warning though: be careful with some types of milk and white chocolate as they can often make cookies too greasy – cheap white chocolate in particular, but brands like Lacta are too greasy to cook with. If you’re putting in things like gummies and marshmallows, you NEED to put everything on grease-proof paper because they will melt and they WILL ruin your baking sheets.
Generally, the best way to make consistent cookies is to beat the butter and sugar together until it’s light and fluffy, and then very gently beat in everything else, starting with the wet ingredients and ending with whatever fillings you want in your cookies. The idea is to have a very light, fluffy mixture.
Melting the butter and mixing it with the sugar also works, but I find you get less fluffy and more stodgy recipes. This generally works better with dark chocolate, or if you’re using other liquids (e.g. milk, treacle, honey) too, from what I’ve seen.
The other day though, I stumbled across a new way to make my cookies. I was using the melt-butter method and realised I’d accidentally put the sugar in the saucepan to melt with the butter, and put the eggs in the bowl already. So I poured most of the sugar out of the saucepan and into the bowl with eggs in it, then I melted the butter. The eggs and sugar though, I decided to whisk together, almost as if I was making a meringue. I waited for the melted butter to cool and THEN mixed that with the egg and sugar mixture, then I really gently added everything else. The cookies came out looking amazing (if a bit anemic because I only used white sugar) but they’re crunchy on the outside and soft in the middle. Would recommend again.
Cooking is also incredibly important. The trick is simple: Do not overcook them, they are done once the edges go golden and the outside looks cooked. It’s really easy to bake your cookies for too long, making them go hard and crunchy. If that’s what you want, sure, cook them until the edges are a dark brown colour, but if you’re aiming for soft, chewy cookies, you want to have them in the oven for as short a time as possible. It’s important to remember that food WILL continue cooking even after you’ve taken things out of the oven, as the heat dies away.
But at the end of the day, it all works out in the end. Even if the cookies you made don’t look nice, they will after you’ve covered them in ice cream or custard!