Mixing Methods: Different Techniques, Different Results
When it comes to baking cookies, not all mixing is the same. Recipes direct you to beat, cream, and whip with no further explanation of what that means, and how it can affect your cookies. Let's take a look at some of the most common cookie mixing methods, when you'd use them, and what kind of results you end up with.
"I like big bowls and I cannot lie." --Sir Mixalot
One Stage / One Bowl Mixing Method
This mixing method calls for placing all the ingredients together in the bowl of your mixer, turning it on low, and mixing with the paddle attachment til the ghosts of your ancestors whisper to you to stop--or til the ingredients are fully combined, whichever comes first. There's not a whole lot of control with this method for mixing ingredients, obviously, but it works well for cookies like coconut macarons, which come out chewy on the inside and crispy on the outside.
For this mixing method, the fats, sugar, salt and spices are beaten together with the paddle attachment until light and fluffy, and then eggs and liquids are added into the mix. The last things added to the mixture are the dry ingredients, like flour and leavening. Chocolate chip cookies and sugar cookies are typically both made this way, but they obviously have very different results. Sugar cookies tend to be firmer and crumbly, while chocolate chip cookies can vary from chewy to crispy, depending on the ratios of the ingredients used.
Sanding / Reverse Creaming Method
In this mixing method, the dry ingredients and fats are mixed together first, just until they have a sandy texture. Eggs are added last, and then the dough is mixed until everything is incorporated and smooth. Shortbread cookies are made using this method, and they are typically crumbly and buttery and delicious.
This mixing method requires you to whip the eggs and sugar together first and then fold in the dry ingredients. French Macarons are made using this method, and they are a super delicate cookie that many bakers fear making, due to the precision needed to get them to come out right. If done correctly, macarons are light and chewy on the inside, but if the whites are not whipped perfectly, they are unlikely to come out right.
By understanding and experimenting with these different mixing methods, you can see what results in tender and chewy cookies, and what results in something crisp and crumbly. This knowledge can help you become more confident in the kitchen and in your own baking abilities. Mix things up a little bit, and have fun!
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