A few years ago, Mrs. Fields and ivillage hosted a cookie contest to celebrate Mrs. Fields 30th anniversary. Prompted by my friends, I decided to enter. I was careful to start experimenting early, and submit ahead of the deadline, but somehow my entry was never accepted into circulation. I like to believe that surely, if my entry had made it into the contest, I would have won!
If nothing else, I learned how simple and easy it is to create your own recipe. It may seem daunting, but by following these simple steps, you can create a fail proof recipe every time!
How to Create Your Own Cookie Recipe:
Basic Rule #1: Every recipe needs three basic components - fat, sugar, & flour
Fat is what keeps the cookie chewy, as opposed to crunchy; the less fat, the less chewy the cookie. Fat also adds flavor and helps to bind the ingredients. Fat can be used as butter, shortening or oil.
Sugar, in addition to lending an excellent sweet flavor in cookies, reacts during the cooking process to provide structure and in stabilizing the other ingredients during baking.
Flour is a main component in most recipes, it is the real stabilizer and thickener. It holds everything together, increases the volume of a dough or batter, and assists the cookie in rising during baking. A lesser known fact is that flour can be created from any high protein ingredient simply by grinding it down to a fine powder, such as oatmeal, rice or nuts.
Basic Rule #2: Cookies require equal parts fat and sugar
This rule should not be diverted from by more or less than ¼ cup and is important to the overall taste and structure of a cookie.
Basic Rule #3: The ratio of flour to fat should be double
Depending on altitude, this rule can be tricky. Higher altitudes traditionally require more flour, so it is best to start with an equal ratio and add flour until the dough is slightly tacky; when you touch the dough it should stick to your fingers, but should not remain stuck. Too little flour will result in cookies that do not hold their shape and spread, while too much flour will result in thick tasteless cookies-better to err on the side of too little.
Basic Rule #4: Cookies need a rising agent
Baking soda and baking powder can be used interchangeably in cookies, and react with the flour as a leavener and acid neutralizer when interacting with fluids. Cream of tartar can be substituted as a rising agent as well.
Basic Rule #5: Cookies need a binding agent
Frequently this agent is employed by the egg, but honey, or pure fruit juice can do the trick as well. Not much is needed, one or two tablespoons should suffice.
Basic Rule #6: Order matters
Fat and sugars should be creamed first to incorporate the two; the binding agent should be added next to facilitate a precursor for the leavening agent; and lastly all flours and leavening ingredients should be added lastly in one motion to ensure complete integration into the dough.
Basic Rule #7: Be creative!
Additions bear little consequence on the final product as they don't react necessarily to the ingredients as a whole. Chocolate, Raisins, Fruit, Nuts: Throw them in!
And that, is how it's done: How to Create Your Own Cookie Recipe!