Trong bài viết nầy Tứ Diễm xin chia sẻ những điều trích dẫn từ một số quyển sách chỉ dẫn cách làm bánh Cookies. Mời xem thêm chi tiết
Bắt đầu bài viết là một số điều trích dẫn từ quyển Christmas Cookies 50 Recipes To Treasure For The Holiday Season by Lisa Zwirn, Photgraphs by Corinne Planche
The Basics of Cookie Making
There are two shortcuts, however, that you’re free to take. Both of these, in a small but significant way, forever changed my cookie-baking routine for the better, allowing me to be more spontaneous and efficient.
- Butter must be soft and pliable to be properly creamed, but how often do we forget to take the sticks out of the refrigerator ahead of time? If you’re very careful, butter can be softened in the microwave without affecting its usability. Here’s how: Place one stick, still in its paper wrapping (or unwrap it and place it on a microwave-safe plate or a sheet of wax paper), in the microwave. Turn the machine on high for ten or eleven seconds. No more!You don’t want to melt the butter, which would change the consistency of the dough and the cookies. When you lightly squeeze a stick of softened butter it should leave impressions of your fingers, but it shouldn’t feel mushy. With this little trick, there’s no more waiting for butter to soften before you can bake.
- Try to be one step ahead of your oven. Have the next batch of cookies ready to go on a clean sheet of parchment paper. When a cookie sheet comes out of the oven, slide the parchment with the baked cookies onto a rack, and then slide the parchment with the formed dough onto the sheet and immediately place it in the oven. (Do this quickly because dough should never sit on a hot sheet for more than a few seconds.) Now there’s no more waiting for hot cookie sheets to cool before they can be used again.
- Otherwise, a cookie recipe, like all baking recipes, is a formula. Yes, that bowl full of yummy ingredients is bound up in the science of chemistry. So read through the recipe carefully, follow it precisely, and measure accurately; your cookie baking will not only be loads of fun but successful!
Here are the key steps and rules for successful cookie baking. Read them over a few times, then embed them in your cookie-baking routine.
- Before you start, make sure you have all the necessary ingredients and enough time for pre- and post-baking tasks. Many recipes require prep work, such as toasting nuts, grating citrus zest, and chopping chocolate, before you can actually start assembling the dough. Some doughs need to be chilled for an hour or more before baking. And a few bar cookies shouldn’t be left to cool for too long after they come out of the oven; they must be cut while still warm or else they become too hard or crumbly to slice.
- Preheat the oven for at least fifteen minutes before baking.
- You’ll achieve the most consistent results when you bake one cookie sheet at a time on a rack in the middle of the oven. If you want to use two sheets to move the job along (after first checking to make sure the recipe suggests it), place the racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven with at least four inches between them so heat can circulate. Ideally, the bottom rack should be at the top of the lower third of the oven and the top rack at the bottom of the top third. When using two sheets, it’s important to rotate them from top to bottom and front to back about halfway through baking to allow the cookies to bake evenly. Do it carefully, yet quickly, because the oven temperature will drop the longer the oven door is open. If one sheet of cookies is done before the other, pull it from the oven.
- Follow the recipe instructions for shaping the cookies to the proper size or rolling the dough to the appropriate thickness in order to get uniform results and the indicated yield. Cookies of the recommended size will bake evenly in the time suggested.
- Don’t crowd the cookie sheet. Leave the suggested amount of space around the cookies, which accounts for spreading and allows the oven heat to circulate and brown the cookies properly.
- ALWAYS check the cookies a minute or two before the suggested minimum baking time. Your oven may run hot or your cookies may be smaller or thinner than the size suggested, causing them to bake faster. That being said, if your cookies take a few minutes longer, that’s okay, too. Ovens vary tremendously. Follow the visual clues for doneness provided in each recipe. Also, remember that most cookies firm up as they cool, so resist the temptation to add minutes to the baking time to produce crispier treats. It will usually just result in dry, overbaked, and possibly burnt-tasting cookies.
- When the cookies are done, immediately remove the cookie sheet from the oven. Unless a recipe directs otherwise, remove the cookies from the sheet one at a time, using a thin metal spatula, and place them on a cooling rack. For particularly fragile cookies, it’s best to slide the parchment paper (with the cookies on it) onto a rack and let the cookies sit until firm enough to place directly on the rack to finish cooling.
- Always let cookie sheets cool before putting on the next batch of dough. Dough on a hot sheet will start to melt and spread, changing the shape, texture, and even the taste of the baked cookie. To speed things up, however, you can follow the shortcut on page 1 and have the next batch ready to go on a clean sheet of parchment. Slide the parchment onto the hot cookie sheet and immediately place the sheet in the oven. (The key is to not let the dough sit on a hot baking sheet before it goes into the oven.)
Chilling and Freezing Cookie Dough
Step two is to choose containers with tight-fitting lids, be they plastic, metal, or ceramic; or you could use sealable plastic bags. If wrapping cookies in foil, first surround them in a layer of plastic wrap or wax paper for a more secure package because foil is easily punctured. Iced, glazed, or sticky cookies, as well as those that are particularly fragile, should be stored in layers separated by sheets of wax or parchment paper.
And the final, cardinal rule of cookie storage is that one container doesn’t fit all. For your cookies to taste as good as when they were first baked, separate the different flavors and textures. Mild-flavored buttery rounds will acquire notes of spice or citrus if packed next to cookies with these stronger flavors. And never should a crunchy meet a softy!Crisp cookies will lose their delectable crunch if stored alongside moist or chewy treats.
Every recipe in this book includes storage recommendations. Unless specified otherwise, cookies should be stored in airtight containers at room temperature. A time frame for how long the cookies can be kept before their flavor and texture become less than perfect is also included. While many cookies taste their absolute best on the day they’re baked or as close to it as possible, others, such as spice cookies, develop their flavorful nuances over a few days’ time.
These treats, as well as super buttery varieties like sablés, sugar cookies, and shortbread, can be kept for weeks. Iced and filled cookies generally don’t last as long, nor do they freeze well. (An exception is the Fig Half-Moons.) If you want to freeze cookies that will be iced or glazed, freeze them undecorated. Thaw the cookies at room temperature on wire racks for a few hours, then decorate them as you would if they were fresh.
HOMEMADE COOKIES MAKE GREAT GIFTS. NOT ONLY ARE THEY DELICIOUS, BUT THE TREATS ARE AN OFFERING OF YOUR TIME AND LOVE. FOR CHRISTMAS, THE SKY’S THE LIMIT AS TO THE NUMBER OF WAYS YOU CAN PACKAGE THEM: PLACE THE TREATS ON A DECORATIVE PLATE, WRAP THEM UP IN AN ATTRACTIVE TIN, BOX, OR BASKET, OR PILE THEM INTO A SMALL HOLIDAY-THEMED SHOPPING BAG. COLORED PLASTIC WRAP OR CELLOPHANE, DECORATIVE TISSUE AND WRAPPING PAPER, AND PLENTY OF RIBBONS AND BOWS WILL MAKE THE PACKAGING FESTIVE.
The best cookies to mail are those that are sturdy and keep well. These include shortbread and other firm buttery cookies, and most bar, sugar, and spice cookies, which will stay fresh for a week or more. Meringues, sandwich and filled cookies, and any other fragile treats are best enjoyed closer to home.
- Chocolate Espresso Wafers
- Peanut Brittle Bars
- Chocolate Shortbread Wedges
- Pecan Sandies
- Cornmeal Currant Cookies
- Pinwheel Cookies
- Cranberry Pistachio Biscotti
- Rocky Road Bites
- Dutch Spice Cookies
- Rum Balls
- Ginger Coins
- Sugar Cookies
- Hazelnut Biscotti
- Toffee Bars
- Mexican Chocolate Snowballs
- Turtle Bar
One More Gift Idea
Holiday Cookie Parties
Here’s how a cookie swap (or exchange) typically works: you bring the required amount of cookies, say, two or three dozen, and enough copies of your recipe for all the attendees, and in exchange you get to assemble a container full of everyone else’s treats to take home. Won’t your family be thrilled when you leave with a tin of the familiar and return with an assortment they’ve never seen before!
Hosting a holiday cookie swap is easy. First, pick a date a few weeks before Christmas. Second, send out invitations requesting that guests bring a specified amount of their chosen cookie (usually enough for each attendee to get at least three or four of each kind) along with enough copies of the typed or handwritten recipe. Also, ask your guests to bring a plate or container for carrying their goodies home. (Occasionally, the host will graciously provide this.) As the host, you’ll need to supply plastic wrap, foil, and small plastic bags for wrapping up the treats. Offer an assortment of beverages, such as eggnog, mulled cider, wine, coffee, or tea, to quench cookie-logged thirsts.
As the guests arrive, display their offerings on holiday-decorated tables and countertops. Give everyone time to stroll around and study the treats. After the oohs and aahs, it’s nice to have the bakers share a little history or anecdotes about their recipes. Then comes the fun part: attendees grab a container and help themselves to the allotted amount of cookies. Tasting should be wholeheartedly
encouraged!The folks back home don’t have to know how many cookies you started with.
These two party ideas are designed mostly for kids, but they’re certainly not exclusive to children. Maybe the man or woman in your life has hidden cookie-decorating talent. For the inner baker in most of us, but especially the little ones, it’s great fun plunging wrist-deep into cookie dough, rolling it out, and stamping gingerbread people, sugar cookie Christmas trees, and stained-glass stars. What joy shaking out red and green sugar crystals over holiday shapes awaiting their turn for the oven!Expect plenty of smiles and mess. (Warning: Neatniks should let others host these events.) Everyone gets to eat her or his creations or take them home.
For a COOKIE-MAKING PARTY, the host can provide the ingredients, equipment, and utensils, or the guests can chip in. Make sure to have plenty of mixing bowls, cookie sheets, cookie cutters in holiday shapes, rolls of parchment paper, and pot holders. Activities are best organized into stations, such as the beating and mixing station, dough-shaping area, and rolling and cookie-cutting surface. Everyone, however, gets to work the nibbling station!
- Chocolate Caramel Thumbprints
- Molasses Ginger Cookies
- Chocolate Crinkles (this dough needs Orange Poppy Seed Drops
- to be made the day before)
- Peanut Butter Chocolate Kisses
- Chocolate Peppermint Cookies
- Pecan Butterballs
- Coconut Macaroons
- Sugar Cookies
- Gingerbread People
- Sugar Cookies with Stained Glass
At this event, the fun is in the decorating, so you’ll want to have a generous supply of sugars, candies, and icing as well as the necessary tools. Icing is decorative on its own and serves as the glue that allows the other decorations to stick to the cookie.
- Confectioners’ sugar
- Decorative sugars, including colored
- sugars and coarse sugars, such as
- sanding, pearl, and sparkling
- Egg-white powder (also called
- meringue powder)
- Food colorings
- Homemade or store-bought icing
- Mini candies (such as Red Hots and
- mini M&Ms)
- Multicolored nonpareils
- Raisins and currants
- Sliced almonds
- Sprinkles (chocolate and multicolored)
- Sweetened shredded coconut
- Bowls (lots of small bowls or ramekins)
- Squeeze bottles, small plastic bags, and/Frosting spreaders or pastry bags with different tips
- Mini paintbrushes Wax paper, plastic wrap, and foil
- Pastry brushes
TO REITERATE WHAT I SAID ON THE VERY FIRST PAGE, THE PHRASE “QUALITY IN, QUALITY OUT” SHOULD BE THE COOKIE BAKER’S MANTRA. WHEN IT COMES TO INGREDIENTS, USE THE BEST YOU CAN FIND OR AFFORD AND MAKE SURE EVERYTHING IS FRESH.
BUTTER: Nothing’s better than real butter, especially in cookies, in which its flavor is so discernible. Use only unsalted butter, which contains less water and is generally fresher-tasting than salted butter. The first step of most cookie recipes is beating the butter, and to do this it must be soft but not mushy. Squeezing a stick with your fingers should just leave their impressions. Check out the shortcut on page 1 for when the butter is cold but you’re in the mood to bake! When adding butter to dry ingredients in a food processor, always cut it into one-tablespoon or smaller pieces so it can be absorbed evenly and with minimal processing.
Tip: Watch out for incorrectly aligned paper wrappers on sticks of butter when you’re slicing off just a few tablespoons. Remove the wrapper, place it back over the butter with the measurement markings lined up properly, and slice off the amount you need.
TWO PIECES OF ADVICE: (1) Don’t use semisweet chocolate chips (morsels) for any of the chocolate called for in this book. (The only exception might be for the kid-friendly Peanut Butter Chocolate Squares if you’d rather not waste your good dark chocolate.) The chips are sweeter and less chocolaty than regular block chocolate and they don’t melt as well. (2) If you buy chocolate in large chunks that your market has chopped, wrapped, and labeled, taste it before you bake with it. I once purchased a one-pound slab marked “62 percent bittersweet chocolate” only to discover—thankfully, before I baked with it!—that it was unsweetened chocolate.
Chocolate can also be melted in the microwave. Place chopped chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl or glass measuring cup and melt it in twenty- to thirtysecond increments on medium power, stirring after each interval. Stirring is important because the chocolate will continue to maintain its shape even when it’s melted.
COCOA POWDER: For baking, use only unsweetened cocoa powder, which comes two ways: natural and Dutch-processed. The latter has been treated with an alkali to neutralize the acidity in chocolate, leaving it with a slightly less ntense flavor and darker color. When natural (nonalkalized) cocoa is used, the recipe usually contains baking soda, which helps tame the acidity. If the recipe
doesn’t specify which kind to use, natural cocoa is fine.
DAIRY PRODUCTS: “Heavy cream” and “whipping cream” can be used interchangeably in these recipes. (The difference is typically a tiny bit more butterfat in heavy cream.) For recipes calling for milk, 1 percent or 2 percent milk can replace whole milk. Regular cream cheese is preferable to low-fat versions; don’t use whipped cream cheese or nonfat products because the cookies’ taste and texture will be affected.
DRIED FRUIT: Dried fruits are, of course, dried, but they should be fresh. Purchase soft, moist, flavorful fruit, and discard any that’s been hanging around too long, especially if the fruit is rock hard or (yikes!) moldy.
EGGS: Use USDA-grade large eggs and always store them in their original carton in the refrigerator. When a recipe calls for just yolks or whites, reserve the other in a small cup or ramekin, covered with plastic wrap, in the refrigerator for up to a few days. When separating the whites from the yolks, make sure not a drop of yolk (or any other fat) ends up in the whites or they won’t beat properly.
EGG-WHITE POWDER (MERINGUE POWDER): For health reasons, it’s safer to use dried egg whites than raw whites in a recipe in which they won’t be heated, such as Royal Icing.
FLOUR: The cookies in this book were tested with all-purpose flour. I used King Arthur unbleached all-purpose flour, but bleached flour is fine, too. Just make sure the flour isn’t too old. To measure flour, lightly spoon it into a flat-rimmed measuring cup meant for dry ingredients (see page 24) and sweep off the excess with the straight edge of a knife or bench scraper. Don’t shake the cup to settle the flour or pack it in, as this will increase the amount of flour in the cup.
FOOD COLORING: The liquid food colorings available at most supermarkets are fine, but natural dyes or professional pastes and powders may be preferable if you’re planning to tint large amounts of icing.
NUTS: Nuts are a favorite ingredient in Christmas cookies all over the world, so you’ll find many varieties of nutty treats—made with almonds, hazelnuts, peanuts, pecans, pistachios, and walnuts—in this book. If you or anyone you’re baking for is allergic, consult the Cookies Without Nuts for safe options.
them with the towel to loosen and remove the skins. Don’t worry if some of it refuses to come off; totally bare nuts aren’t necessary for any of these recipes.
SALT: Don’t be surprised to find salt in most of the recipes in this book. Salt is a flavor enhancer, as much in sweets as in savory cooking. Use regular table salt, not coarse salt.
SUGAR AND OTHER SWEETENERS: Stock your pantry with granulated, confectioners’ (also called powdered, icing, or 10X), and light and dark brown sugars. Superfine sugar is sometimes used for ultradelicate cookies and meringues.
ZEST: When you grate the peel or rind of a citrus fruit, gather only the colored part, not the bitter white pith below it. To measure finely grated zest, lightly pack it in a measuring spoon.
AT FIRST GLANCE, THIS MAY APPEAR LIKE A LENGTHY LIST OF TOOLS AND EQUIPMENT YOU SHOULD HAVE, BUT CHANCES ARE YOU ALREADY OWN MOST OF THE ITEMS. AND WHILE SOME ARE TRULY NECESSARY FOR SUCCESSFUL COOKIE BAKING, OTHERS ARE JUST USEFUL OR TIME-SAVING. THERE’S ONLY ONE THING YOU SHOULDN’T SKIMP ON AND THAT’S QUALITY COOKIE SHEETS.
BENCH SCRAPER: This tool, also called a pastry or dough scraper, is a small, rectangular piece of steel with a thick handle along the top. It’s practical for scraping or lifting dough off a work surface and perfect for cutting bar cookies. I found one with an added benefit: it’s marked in inches along the bottom and up one side to facilitate measuring the thickness and /or diameter of dough and
BOWLS: Cookie bakers need lots of bowls in various sizes. Stainless steel is best for most uses; choose those that are deeper rather than shallow and wide in order to prevent ingredients from flying out during beating. Also have a few glass bowls for microwave heating.
on. Don’t use insulated or air-cushioned sheets, because they bake more slowly and prevent cookies from browning properly.
COOLING RACKS: Have at least two or three large wire racks to put cookies on to cool after they come out of the oven. Choose those with a small, square grid pattern and feet that raise the rack at least ¾ inch above a counter surface.
ELECTRIC MIXERS: Either a stand mixer or a handheld mixer will get the job done, and home bakers usually swear by one or the other. I use both, but I am particularly devoted to my good old hand mixer. I find it simpler and less cumbersome to use and I don’t have to spend as much time scraping down the bowl. For batter or dough requiring a few minutes’ beating or if the dough is particularly thick or heavy, a stand mixer with its paddle attachment will certainly give your arm a rest.
FOOD PROCESSOR: An indispensable tool in the baker’s kitchen, a processor is perfect for grinding nuts, pureeing fruit sauces, combining dry and wet mixtures, and making vanilla sugar.
MEASURING CUPS AND SPOONS: Dry ingredients should be measured in sturdy, stainless-steel cups with straight rims. (Metal or hard plastic will hold its shape best and won’t warp over the years.) The flat rim makes it easy to level off ingredients such as flour and sugar. Purchase one or two sets in the following sizes: 1 cup, ½ cup, 1⁄3 cup, and ¼ cup. Liquids should be measured in glass cups with spouts that are clearly marked in ¼-cup increments, ounces, and metric measurements. They should be heat resistant and microwave safe. Purchase 1-cup, 2-cup (1-pint), and 4-cup (1-quart) sizes. A mini 4-tablespoon (¼-cup) measure is perfect for small amounts of liquids such as milk and maple
syrup. Have two sets of sturdy, stainless-steel measuring spoons in sizes from 1⁄8 teaspoon to 1 tablespoon.
PARCHMENT PAPER AND SILICONE BAKING MATS: Lining cookie sheets with parchment paper eliminates the need for greasing the sheets and saves you cleanup time. It also allows you to transfer a whole batch of baked cookies off a hot sheet and onto a rack to cool, and slide on a paper full of unbaked rounds. The paper can be reused for a few batches ( just wipe off crumbs with a damp sponge) until either it gets too browned or stuck-on bits start to burn. Silicone mats are more expensive, but they are reusable for what might be years of baking. I favor parchment paper for its “sliding” benefits and because, in some cases, the mats hamper browning.
SCALE: Ingredients such as chocolate, nuts, dried fruits, and coconut are often specified in ounces rather than cup measures because one baker’s chopped sizes or definition of “packed” or “heaping” may differ from another’s. A reliable kitchen scale, either digital or spring-based, is therefore a necessity to accurately weigh these (and other) ingredients.
metal spatulas are useful for removing bar cookies from their pans. An offset spatula can be used for frosting bar cookies.
- Saucepans of various sizes are a must for jobs such as melting butter, making caramel, and heating cream.
- A kitchen timer (or two) is essential for timing cookies in the oven.
- A rolling pin that’s comfortable in your hands is necessary for producing rolled cookies. Keep a ruler or metal measuring tape handy for measuring the thickness, length, and width of rolled dough and the height of some cookies.
- You’ll need a wire whisk for blending dry ingredients and beating eggs, a pastry brush for brushing egg wash on dough before baking, and mini paintbrushes for spreading icing on cookies.
- Pastry bags and decorator tips are used by professionals to pipe and decorate cookies, but to be honest they’re not essential for any cookie in this book. If you like to use them, go ahead, but there are other, easier options for drizzling and piping icing, such as squeeze bottles (buy the ones with the smallest holes in the tops you can find) and small plastic bags (with a tiny hole snipped at one corner).
- A coffee grinder is perfect for grinding whole spices such as cloves, allspice, and pepper. A few sharp knives are essential for chopping nuts, chocolate, and other ingredients, as well as for slicing logs of dough and cutting bar cookies.
- A pizza wheel (or pizza cutter) also works well for cutting bar cookies and shortbread.
- Other useful items are a sifter or a small fine-mesh sieve for dusting confectioners’ sugar over cookies and sifting out the lumps in cocoa powder; a cookie scoop for portioning dough (these mini ice-cream scoops come in various sizes and are fun to use); and a demitasse spoon for teeny-weeny jobs such as filling wells in cookies with caramel or powdered candy.
- Last, but not least, you’ll need plastic wrap, aluminum foil, wax paper, small (sandwich-size) and large (1-gallon) sealable plastic bags, and plenty of airtight plastic containers or metal tins for keeping all your goodies fresh!
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