Butter and Margarine
Butter and Margarine are the most commonly used source of fats and oils for baking. We use butter in our cookie recipes due to its melt in your mouth flavor. Margarine can be used in place of butter if you prefer but it won’t have exactly the same flavor characteristics of butter. If you do choose to use margarine make sure you don’t use “Reduced Calorie” or “Low-Fat” varieties. They simply don’t have enough fat content to give your cookies the desired texture. They are meant for use as spreads and not for baking. Butter and regular margarine have the same baking properties. Butter is a natural dairy product and margarine is made from hydrogenated vegetable oils.
Butter – Salted or Unsalted?
Some of our recipes call for salted butter and some for unsalted. Most of us use salted butter or margarine every day. It is what we have grown accustomed to. Some recipes will call for unsalted butter, this gives you the ability to control the amount of salt in the recipe. If the recipe call for unsalted butter and you only have salted butter on hand then you can use it and then reduce the amount of salt that the recipe calls for.
Each stick of salted butter (1/2 cup) has about 1/4 teaspoon of salt.
Vegetable shortening was developed as a replacement for lard (rendered pig fat).
I remember my mom trying Crisco brand shortening. Of course, I had to stick my finger in it to see what it tasted like. It was tasteless and greasy. My dad used to call it axle grease. Years back they came out with a butter flavored version. Either kind of shortening can be used in place of butter or margarine in most cookie recipes, although there will be some difference in flavor and texture.
A few of our recipes call for shortening, try to use a top brand. Lower price brands tend to have air whipped into them to increase volume. This makes them weigh less and could ruin your batch of cookies.
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