Wednesday, February 17, 2010
Butter vs. Butter-flavored shortening in cookies
Just recently I had a vision of a moment in time, a long time ago, when I was watching Good Eats. It wasn't weird. Sometimes I'm thinking, and certain moments of the past that relate to my current thoughts, pop up.
So I was melting butter to make cookies, and I suddenly remembered this random moment in Good Eats when Alton Brown said that sometimes Butter-Flavored Shortening tastes even more like butter in baked goods. I made a note to get butter-flavored shortening if I ever saw it in the grocery store, and several weeks later, I did, in a huge tub.
I just recently decided to test out my hypothesis and compare it head to head in my chocolate chip cookie recipe. I kept all variables in the experiment constant other than the fat. I noticed that the dough made with butter was much looser, I suppose because of its lower melting point. I much preferred the dough of the butter cookies to those made with shortening. The shortening cookies tasted almost synthetic. My sister agreed.
The finished cookies were a different story. The cookies made with butter were more poofy whereas those made with shortening were more dense and rich (perhaps because the water in the butter turned to steam and provided some leavening?). Though the tasted synthetic before cooking, after they were done the shortening cookies had a stronger butter flavor than the cookies made with butter. I feel that in regular chocolate chip cookies, you don't really notice the flavor of the butter; it's flavor gives way to the chocolate and sugar and you really only get it's richness. Butter flavor was however prevalent in the shortening cookies.