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BAKER'S BONUS - COOKIES
Administrator, Saturday 21 June 2014 - 07:09:31


COOKIE TRIVIA

The first cookbook published in North America appeared in 1796 and included a recipe called "Another Christmas Cookey.: It required 3 pounds of flour, a tea cup of fine powdered coriander seed, 1 pound of butter, and three 3 teaspoonfuls of pearl ash dissolved in a tea cup of milk.

The author advised that the cookies would be finer, softer, and better when 6 months old, after being stored in an earthen pot, dry cellar, or damp room. NOTE: Don't try this recipe at home.

Because most cookie recipes call for baking powder and baking soda in such small amounts, it's easy to think the ingredients might be optional. THEY'RE NOT! Baking powder and baking soda are leavening agents; without them, baked products won't rise. Because the chemical properties of the two ingredients differ, one cannot be substituted for another. If you're going to bake, it's best to keep both on hand.

The Days of Margarine Prohibition
Margarine, the appetizing buttery-yellow form we purchase today, was once a controlled substance. In fact, in 1902, yellow margarine was banned in 32 states. Your grandmother may remember the little yellow food coloring capsules sold with oleo margarine. Once home, homemakers kneaded the color into the product to give it the desired buttery color.

Most color bans on margarine were removed after World War II, and President Harry Truman later signed the Margarine Act of 1950, which ended a federal margarine tax system. Penny-wise mid-century cooks quickly took advantage of margarine's low cost. Consumption of margarine doubled in the next 20 years. Today, most home bakers have come full circle, choosing butter for the flavor and richness it gives baked creations.

The milk that made life sweeter
Sweetened condensed milk has been around for almost a century and a half, but it wasn't invented with cookies and candies in mind.

In the days before refrigeration, it served as a reliable source of milk that wouldn't spoil and was given to everyone--from babies to Civil War troops.

Industrious cooks quickly discovered the product added something very special to baking in 1931, one manufacturer offered home cooks $25 for original recipes using condensed milk, and more than 80,000 recipes rolled in.

Cookie Decorating:
Decorating cookies with sugar is one of the easiest ways to dress up cookies. Different types of sugar, in an endless number of colors, are available. Check craft stores, culinary stores, grocery stores and online for different varieties.

Coarse sugar and sanding sugar are very similar. Both sugars have large, crystals and can be used to decorate cookies and other baked goodies, before or after baking. They add color and sparkle to baked goods and candies. The vibrant-colored crystals do not melt at high temperatures and retain their color and sparkle.

Sanding sugar is used more often in the baking industry, but can be found in specialty stores or online and can be used similarly to coarse sugar.


BUTTER IN COOKIES

Use softened butter at room temperature for easier mixing. Or, soften butter in the microwave on defrost (30% power) for 10 to 15 seconds. Check, then let stand. If necessary, microwave 5 to 10 seconds more, then let stand until ready to use.

Butter should be softened just until it yields to light pressure. Melted butter, though it produces cookies that brown evenly, isn’t recommended as it produces a flatter cookie with a shiny surface and a slightly crackled appearance.

Unsalted butter may be substituted for the same amount of salted butter. No other adjustments are necessary.


COOLING COOKIES

For best results, cool cookies for 1 minute before removing from baking sheets and placing them on wire racks to cool completely. Cool brownies in pan on wire rack 20 minutes before serving.


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