Thursday, 5 December 2013

Cookies - Một Số Điều Nên Lưu Ý

Cookies vốn rất dễ làm, lại rất đa dạng với nhiều hương vị, mầu sắc, hình dáng khác nhau.   Tuy nhiên để bảo đảm làm thành công theo ý muốn, có một số điều nên lưu ý.


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

A GREAT COOKIE IS MADE FROM FRESH, QUALITY INGREDIENTS. IF YOU THINK OF THE LITTLE ROUNDS AND BARS AS JUST COMPACT CARRIERS OF FLAVOR, YOU’LL SEE HOW IMPORTANT EVERY STICK OF BUTTER, OUNCE OF CHOCOLATE, TEASPOON OF SPICE, AND CUP OF NUTS IS TO THE END RESULT. WHAT YOU MIX IN IS WHAT YOU’LL TASTE, SO KEEP THE PHRASE “QUALITY IN, QUALITY OUT” FOREMOST IN YOUR MIND AS YOU SHOP FOR INGREDIENTS.

Making cookies also requires a heaping spoonful of patience. Chocolate must be melted slowly so it doesn’t burn, butter and sugar must be beaten sufficiently until creamy, and, in many recipes, the dough must be chilled to provide the best rolling and baking results. It’s important not to take shortcuts or else the taste and texture of the cookies will suffer.  If you’re in a hurry, check out the Quick and Easy.

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!



Cookie-Baking Guidelines

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

Refrigerating cookie dough allows it to rest and firm up before it is rolled and shaped. In some recipes, such as the Chocolate Crinkles and all the Slice and Bake cookies, the dough is impossible to work with until it has had a good, long chill. In general, whenever dough needs to be chilled before baking, it can be refrigerated for longer than the time specified, usually up to three or four days. 

The dough will harden, but it will soften again to rolling or shaping consistency after sitting at room temperature for about an hour.  Cookie doughs with high butter content freeze well, usually for up to three to four months. The type of cookie will dictate whether the dough should be frozen in a disk shape (if it’s to be rolled out), a ball (for drop or hand-shaped cookies), or a log (for slicing). In all cases, make sure to wrap it snugly in plastic wrap and, for extra protection against frost, secure it with a layer of foil or in a heavy-duty plastic bag. Label and date the package because frozen blobs and  logs are difficult to identify after a few months. You might even want to attach a piece of paper with the baking instructions so you don’t have to hunt for the recipe when it’s time to bake. Thaw frozen dough in the fridge overnight or, if needed sooner, for an hour or two at room temperature.







Storing Cookies

Step number one of proper cookie storage is to cool the cookies completely. Treats that are still warm from the oven create a steamy environment, perfect for turning their textures soft and mushy.

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.





Freezing Cookies

To freeze those cookies that freeze well (and not all cookies do, so check the specific recipe), secure them with a snug double wrapping to protect them from freezer burn. Wrap the cookies first in plastic, then enclose them in a layer of foil or tuck them inside a heavy-duty freezer bag. When stacking the treats, use wax or parchment paper to separate the layers.
 
Frozen cookies can be thawed in the refrigerator or at room temperature.  If thawing at room temperature, open the package slightly so moisture isn’t trapped inside. Some varieties, such as the Fig Half-Moons, Cornmeal Currant Cookies, and biscotti, benefit from a few minutes heating and re-crisping in a 350°F or 375°F oven. (And then again, some of us love eating frozen cookies!)

Giving Cookies

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.


Always attach cards or labels with the cookie names written on them along with a list of ingredients in case of possible allergies. Even better, include the recipes. When packaging cookies to give (in person) or send, follow the same rules for storing them: Keep flavors and textures separated so they taste and crunch as intended. Enclose same-kind cookies in plastic wrap or small, sealable plastic bags. Iced or glazed treats should be separated by layers of wax paper so they don’t stick together.

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.
 
When mailing cookies, pack them in a holiday tin, paper box, or plastic container.  (A clean shoe box works, too.) Pack the treats close together, cushioned with bubble wrap or tissue paper for extra protection, and make sure there’s no room for wiggling.  Think snug. And go for holiday color.  Buy some colored cellophane, plastic wrap, or tissue paper to line the inside of the container.  Peeling away the layers to see what’s inside is part of the excitement.
The container(s) should then be packed in a slightly larger box for mailing. Create a tight fit inside the carton by using crumpled newspaper or foam packing peanuts to keep the cookie container(s) from bouncing around. How you send the package may depend on your holiday budget, but shipping by pony express won’t help your cookies. It’s best to ship overnight or by priority mail, which typically takes two days, to guarantee that the treats arrive in tasty condition.

GOOD COOKIES FOR MAILING
  • 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
Give dough. Cookie dough, that is. The recipient then has the opportunity to bake cookies whenever the mood strikes. Load the dough into sturdy plastic tubs (unless it’s rolled into a log for Slice and Bake cookies) and attach baking instructions. Check out the list of Make-Ahead and Freeze Cookie Dough for yummy options. Date the package and instruct that the dough should be frozen if not used within two days.

Holiday Cookie Parties

FOR COOKS WHO ARE ALWAYS LOOKING OVER THEIR SHOULDER AT WHAT THEIR NEIGHBORS OR FRIENDS ARE BAKING, A COOKIE SWAP IS A GREAT OPPORTUNITY TO LEARN A FEW NEW TRICKS AND GATHER A BUNCH OF GREAT RECIPES. FOR THE NOVICE, IT’S AN OPPORTUNITY TO START BUILDING A COOKIE REPERTOIRE. AND FOR THE COOKIE MONSTER IN ALL OF US, IT’S SIMPLY DELICIOUS!


How to Host a Holiday Cookie Swap

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.

How to Host a Cookie-Making or Cookie-Decorating Party

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!

For doughs that need to be refrigerated before being shaped or rolled, each one can be chilled while another variety is assembled and /or baked. The host can start the party off by preparing one or two doughs ahead, which can be ready to roll after the bakers assemble their first batch. Bar cookies, macaroons, and most drop cookies can go right into the oven after they’re prepared.

For a cookie-making party, try these fun-to-make cookies:
  • 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

For a COOKIE-DECORATING PARTY, the host usually provides plain sugar cookies and /or gingerbread shapes and plenty of decorations. The host can bake all the cookies ahead of time or, better yet, send out a recipe a week before the party and ask volunteers to each bake a few dozen. If you’re pressed for time, you could even arrange to purchase plain cutouts from a local bakery.

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.

For a cookie-decorating party, you’ll need the following items:

EDIBLES
  • 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

TOOLS
  • 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





Key Ingredients for the Cookie Baker

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.
BAKING POWDER AND BAKING SODA: In cookies, these leavening agents help lift and lighten the texture of the dough. Baking soda also helps with browning. Although both tend to last a long time, baking powder, in particular, won’t leaven if it’s too old. Date the containers when you purchase them and throw them out after a year.

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.
CHOCOLATE: Good-quality chocolate makes a difference. What they say about wine—if you wouldn’t want to drink it, don’t cook with it—applies to chocolate: if you wouldn’t want to eat it, don’t bake with it.  When a recipe calls for bittersweet chocolate, choose one with at least 60 percent chocolate liquor, which is the combination of cocoa solids and cocoa butter or essentially everything that is derived from the cacao bean. Semisweet chocolate usually contains between 35 percent and 55 percent chocolate liquor. The rest of what’s in chocolate is mostly sugar, so the higher the cocoa percentage, the more intense the chocolate flavor and the less sugar there is. Milk chocolate is sweeter than semisweet chocolate and has milk added. Unsweetened chocolate contains no sugar and is approximately 99 percent chocolate liquor.
 To find a few brands you like, taste them out of the wrapper and in baked goods. Before baking with any chocolate, make sure it’s fresh; the chocolate should be glossy and firm. Store all chocolate in a cool, dark, and dry place.

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.

MELTING CHOCOLATE: The key to melting chocolate is to do it gently so it doesn’t burn or turn grainy. It’s best to use the double-boiler method by either using a set of nesting saucepans (called a double boiler) or setting a stainless steel or glass bowl over the rim of a saucepan containing about an inch or two of barely simmering water. The bottom of the bowl should not touch the water. Always start with chocolate that has been chopped into small chunks and stir often. Remove the bowl from the heat before the chocolate is fully melted and stir to melt the remaining pieces.Be careful not to let the chocolate come in contact with water (or steam) as just a few drops of liquid can cause it to “seize” and become a grainy mess.

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. 

COCONUT: For the two recipes in this book that call for coconut, use the sweetened shredded variety that is readily available in supermarkets. 

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.

Tip: When life gives you egg whites, make macaroons or meringues. When egg yolks pile up, bake Pecan Sandies, Orange Poppy Seed Drops, Eggnog Cookies, Toasted Coconut Sablés, or Walnut Stars.

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.

EXTRACTS AND FLAVORINGS: For the tastiest cookies, use pure extracts rather than imitation or artificial flavorings. For flavored oils such as peppermint, hazelnut, and lemon, remember that a little goes a long way. 

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.

Before you bake, smell and taste the nuts to make sure they’re fresh. If you buy in bulk or only use them sporadically, store them in the freezer for up to one year. When nuts are left too long at room temperature, the oil in them turns rancid, giving them a terrible funky-oily smell and taste. Most cookie recipes call for nuts to be chopped or ground. The various sizes called for can be somewhat confusing, so here’s a quick summary: coarsely chopped (a large nut cut into 2 to 3 pieces); chopped or medium-chopped (about ¼-inch pieces); finely chopped (about 1⁄8- to 3⁄16-inch bits); ground or finely ground (like grainy sand); and nut meal /flour (a slightly gritty powder).

TOASTING NUTS: Toasting nuts brings out their flavor and crunch. In recipes in which the nuts will be chopped or ground, they’re usually toasted (and cooled) prior to chopping. Occasionally, as in the Toffee Bars, I like to toast chopped nuts so all cut sides turn golden. To toast nuts, spread the amount you need in a single layer on a baking sheet and place in a 325°F oven. (You can also toast nuts at 350°F, but watch them carefully and give them a little less time.) Stir the nuts or shake the pan once or twice during toasting. Chopped, sliced, or slivered nuts or small varieties such as pine nuts toast the fastest, in about 4 to 7 minutes. Walnuts, pecans, and pistachios will take between 8 and 12 minutes, and harder nuts such as whole almonds and hazelnuts may require up to 10 to 14 minutes. Let your nose be your guide. When you smell their delicious aroma and they appear lightly golden, they’re done. Take care not to burn them. You can use a toaster oven, but watch carefully because they generally toast faster in the smaller space. Hazelnuts (also called filberts) require the additional step of removing their papery skins. While the nuts are still warm, place them in a dish towel and rub
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.

SPICES: Spices should smell and taste like they’re supposed to. If the jar of ground cinnamon or ginger has been hanging around for longer than a year, it’s probably stale. It’s best to buy whole nutmeg and grate it just before using.   Ditto for allspice and cloves. Use a Microplane or other fine-holed grater for nutmeg and a spice (or coffee) grinder for allspice berries and cloves.

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. 

For decorating, it’s nice to have an assortment of colored, sparkling, and pearl sugars. Sweeteners like maple syrup, molasses, and honey add flavor and moisture and, along with corn syrup, give cookies a slightly softer, chewy texture. Note that when a recipe calls for just “sugar” it is always granulated sugar; otherwise a different type of sugar will be specified.

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.





Key Tools for the Cookie Baker

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.

BAKING PANS AND SHEETS: Choose shiny, light-colored (dark metal causes excess browning), heavy-gauge aluminum (or aluminized steel) baking pans in the following sizes: 8-inch square, 9-inch square, 9 × 13 × 2-inch rectangle, and 10½ × 15½ × 1-inch jelly roll pan. Baking sheets come in all different sizes and have four short sides, about ½ to 1 inch high, to prevent foods from sliding off. These are useful for toasting nuts and baking some cookies such as biscotti. Otherwise, cookies should be baked on cookie sheets. (See below.)

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
unbaked cookies.

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.

COOKIE CUTTERS: Holiday cookie bakers should have cutters in all kinds of holiday shapes as well as stars, hearts, diamonds, and scalloped (or fluted) rounds of different sizes. Cleaning and drying them well before storing will help preserve them. Dip cutters in flour before stamping if the dough sticks to them. 

COOKIE SHEETS: Don’t be tempted to buy thin, flimsy cookie sheets just because they cost less. You’ll find that slightly more expensive, commercial quality sheets will be worth their weight in perfectly baked cookies. Cookie sheets should be shiny, light-colored, heavy-gauge aluminum (or aluminized steel) pans that are hefty for their size so they won’t buckle or warp over time. The standard size of approximately 13 × 15 inches fits in most ovens and allows heat to circulate all around it. Depending on the type of cookie, 9 to 12 (or up to 16 if they don’t spread) will fit per sheet. Cookie sheets have one or two slightly raised or lipped sides that make it easy to grip the pan, while the rimless sides allow you to slide cookies, and parchment paper loaded with cookies, off and
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.

GRATER/ZESTER: A metal grater with small, sharp-edged holes is critical for grating fine zest from citrus fruits and for grating nutmeg. I think the classic Microplane grater produces the finest, most tender zest.

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.

SPATULAS: You can never have too many spatulas. You’ll need medium and large rubber (or silicone) spatulas for mixing, folding, and scraping dough from the sides of a bowl and the small, narrow kind for scraping foods from the inside of jars and measuring cups. Wide metal spatulas are essential for lifting cookies off cookie sheets and placing unbaked shapes on; and thin, narrow
metal spatulas are useful for removing bar cookies from their pans. An offset spatula can be used for frosting bar cookies.


MISCELLANEOUS ITEMS
  • 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!
(Sưu Tầm)
Source: from the book named Christmas Cookies 50 Recipes To Treasure For The Holiday Season by Lisa Zwirn, Photgraphs by Corinne Planche




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4 comments:

Ninie Tran said...

Hi ss Td ! Sao e lau lau post comment o blog chi hong dc vay ;(

TuDiem's Corner said...

Hello sis Ninie,

Có lẽ khi đó Blogger server bị busy nên sis mới không post comment được. Nếu sis thường xuyên bị trục trặc khi post comment thì cho biết nghen. Tứ Diễm đã trả lời câu hỏi của sis trong bài viết bên kia rồi đó

Ninie Tran said...

Chet ! Vi do e thu post comment nhieu qua nen e hong nho bai nao ! Mong ss TD chi cho e bai nao de e dc xem ! E cma on

TuDiem's Corner said...

Sis Ninie ơi,

TD trả lời sis về món bánh bò nướng trong bài Rose Cupcakes Sis ghé qua đó xem nha. Chúc sis làm thành công

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