I have been experimenting with cookie recently. It is just a simple cookie recipe that is shaped by piping but I’ve spent two weeks to compare various ingredients in order to find out what texture I prefer most.
The ingredients being used is extremely important in creating the cookie that you wish for. Preference is truly a personal matter. Somebody may prefer their cookies crispy while others like theirs crumbly and melt-in-tge-mouth. Once you understand how ingredients behaves differently you could always tweak the recipe to create the texture that you want. I like to use all-purpose flour for my cookies as its higher protein level strengthens the dough structure, creating a piped pattern that is sturdier and less likely to spread or disappear upon baking. Cake flour makes cookie crumbly and melt-in-your-mouth. In terms of eggs, many recipes simply call for whole eggs. But egg whites result in crunchier cookies while egg yolks add richness (and also fats of course) and tenderness. For butter, I’ve tested with salted, unsalted, and well as European-style cultured butter. Unsalted butter allows you to control over the saltiness whereas salted butter yields a salty-sweet flavor. European-style butter contains less water so cookies are more buttery. Also because the butter is cultured it leaves a slight tangy aftertaste. I don’t have a preference in butter. As long as the butter is of high quality, your cookies will be buttery and delicious.
My cookie recipe is adapted from my friend Bonnie and the Sable Viennois recipe by the world-renowned baker Pierre Hermé. Cookie batter tends to be firmer and is harder to pipe as the room temperature is lower during winter time. The piped out cookie would also have ragged edges. My tip for you is to start off with butter that is very, very soft. After mixing with sugar, the mixture should have a consistency similar to toothpaste. This optimal texture allows the flour to be blended and absorbed effectively, resulting in a soft batter that can easily be piped. If you are in a hurry you could soften the butter in the microwave on the lowest power in 10 seconds intervals. Another way to soften butter quickly is to immerse the bottom part of your mixing bowl in warm water for a short period of time, like 30 seconds, during mixing. For evenly-sized cookies, do not fill the pastry bag too full as you will need strong arms to apply even pressure. If you have trouble piping the batter either because it is too stiff or you don’t have strong arms, warm the batter using a hair dryer only if you are using a reusable piping bag (canvas or silicone material). If disposable piping bag is used, wrap it with a warm towel as the heat from the dryer may melt the plastic.
食譜份量及做法參考了朋友Bonnie的擠花牛油曲奇及甜品大師Pierre Hermé的維也納曲奇(Sable Viennois)食譜。因為冬天室內氣溫較低，當牛油回溫不夠時麵糊便不夠柔軟，擠花十分困難，麵糊擠出來後邊緣更是滿佈裂紋。EC的心得是，牛油要放得十分十分軟，與糖混合後變成像牙膏狀的樣子為最佳，這種軟度十分容易與麵粉混合，麵糊軟軟的擠花時才輕鬆不費力。心急沒時間等待的話可用微波爐以最低火十秒一次的加熱軟化牛油。另外打發牛油時也可把鋼盆底部浸在暖水中半分鐘使其軟化。此外，把曲奇麵糊放進擠花袋時不要填得太滿，否則要花很大的氣力才能擠出大小均勻的曲奇。倘若擠花途中才發覺麵糊很硬而手力又不夠，只要用風筒往擠花袋(只限布或矽膠物料)吹一會兒便可軟化麵糊，使用一次性擠花袋的請用暖毛巾包裹擠花袋，以免熱風令塑膠溶化。
Makes 22 to 25
125 g unsalted butter, very soft
150 g all-purpose flour, sifted
40 g icing sugar, sifted
1/4 tsp sea salt or pink Himalayan salt
20 g egg white
1/2 tsp vanilla bean paste or pure vanilla extract
無鹽牛油 (室溫回軟) 125克
Preheat oven to 325℉/160℃. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment or with an electric mixer, beat butter on low speed until smooth. Add icing sugar and salt then beat on low speed until blended (there is no need to beat air into the dough so do not beat mixture to the light and fluffy stage).
Add egg white in two additions and beat until fully Incorporated. Scrape down the side of the bowl with a spatula then beat in the vanilla.
Fold in the flour in two batches with a spatula. Stop mixing once a soft dough is formed. Do not over-mix.
Transfer batter into a piping bag fitted with an open-star tip (I used Wilton 1M star tip) then eliminate any trapped air bubbles. Pipe batter onto the baking sheet. I made a rosette by piping a dollop then draw a circle as if writing the letter e.
Bake for 15 to 18 minutes or until the cookies are golden brown around the edges. Cool completely on a cooling rack.
Cookies can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for 2 weeks. For longer storage, keep in freezer for up to 2 months. Without thawing, bake at 300℉/150℃ for 5 to 8 minutes then cool completely before serving.
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