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Three Ways To Help Keep Cookies Fresh And Soft

July 12, 2010

Fed up with dry, hard cookies? Online cookies may be the answer to that problem. Follow these three tips for fresh cookies that start and stay soft and chewy.

Adjust the ingredients. Several ingredients are common suspects in the case of a hard cookie crisis. Using butter in your recipe can create one tough cookie. Replacing butter with vegetable shortening like Crisco will keep your cookie chewy longer. Depending on the type of cookie, you may want to try substituting some or all of the shortening with applesauce. This works well with oatmeal raisin and other fruity cookies, but may not be the best option for those with a more delicate flavor, such as sugar cookies, where the applesauce may be overpowering. For chocolate cookies, try substituting (believe it or not) prune baby food for shortening. Prunes enhance the richness of the chocolate without disrupting the flavor. Either substitution will knock out fat and calories while adding moisture, softening up your batch. Darker sugars also add moisture, so increase the ratio of dark to white sugars. Protein enhances the stretchiness of the dough, creating a chewier cookie. Adding an extra egg yolk and using bread flour instead of all-purpose flour should do the trick. Be careful not to add too much flour. While your dough should not be so sticky that it is unmanageable, too much flour makes even fresh cookies hard.

Watch the heat. Chilling the dough a bit before spooning it onto a cool cookie sheet will keep them from spreading too rapidly, yielding denser, chewy cookies. Take them out of the oven while they are still gooey. When you think they are almost done, they are done. Your oven is like a cookie desert, hot and dry. And dry conditions can quickly lead to dry cookies. Leaving them on the hot pan for about five minutes after baking will firm them up without drying them out.

Store for longevity. Storage presents its own challenges to fresh cookies. You definitely need to keep your cookies in an airtight container, but you don’t need to leave them all alone in there. Specialty cookware stores sell small terra cotta clay discs which, when sprinkled with water and dropped in with your cookies, maintain enough moisture to keep them from drying out. An equal, if not better, alternative is to simply drop a slice of white bread in with your cookies. The bread provides sustained moisture to extend the life of the cookies. The often-neglected heels from the loaf work perfectly well.

These simple adjustments will ensure that the next cookbook, magazine, or online cookies recipe you bake stays soft and fresh until every cookie has been devoured.

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