Sunday, January 31, 2010

Betty Crocker was right.

I spent the weekend experimenting with chocolate chip cookie recipes. Whenever I use real butter, which the experts always say to use, my cookies flatten out. So I decided to try a recipe with butter, and then the same recipe using margarine and see what happened. People are always claiming to have found the perfect recipe, like this one at (Now, the perfect recipe really depends on your own personal tastes. I happen to like my chocolate chip cookies soft and chewy.)

Over 3,000 people have rated this particular recipe, each with a different opinion. And over 400 photos have been uploaded, each looking VERY different. Clearly, not everyone is doing the same thing. It's impossible to know what works best when the comments are so varied: eggs MUST be at room temperature, bake at 335 not 325, refrigerate for 24 hours, refrigerate exactly 36 hours, don't add any extra flour, be sure to add extra flour, bake at 375, melt butter, don't melt butter, add less sugar, etc.

I have to say, the batch I made using butter spread a lot more than the batch with margarine. Note the difference:

The butter batch. Tasty, but too flat.

The margarine batch, with one butter cookie for comparison. Getting better...

But I still wasn't pleased with the results. Then I realized that I needed to return to the classics: Betty Crocker and shortening. Shortening got a bad reputation with that whole trans fat thing, but they now make it without the trans fat. Now I'm no food scientist (although my dad is) but I would say that butter, margarine, and shortening are all bad for us in some way and should all be used in moderation (hopefully consuming 6 warm cookies from the oven is moderation?) and I'm never setting out to be healthy when baking.

So I broke out my old Betty Crocker cookie recipe. When I was a kid, I made chocolate chip cookies ALL the time. And I used this Betty Crocker recipe which calls for half shortening and half butter (I used margarine...we never had such extravagances as butter when I was a kid). My cookies always turned out perfectly. (Except the time when I was 8 or 9 and made them by myself for the first time and used salt in place of sugar.) Why I have been trying other recipes over the years I'm not sure.


Round, soft, and chewy.

And delicious.

Don't forget the milk.

So here it is. My perfect chocolate chip cookie recipe (altered slightly from Betty Crocker). However, there is a good chance that this won't be YOUR perfect recipe.

Chocolate Chip Cookies
(Betty Crocker, my changes are in red)

• 2/3 cup shortening (I used butter flavored Crisco)
• 2/3 cup butter or margarine (I used butter)
• 1 cup sugar
• 1 cup brown sugar, packed
• 2 large eggs
• 2 teaspoons vanilla (I double the vanilla)
• 3 cups flour
• 1 teaspoon baking soda
• 1 teaspoon salt
• 1 (12 ounce) package chocolate chips


Cream shortening, butter, and sugars in large mixing bowl; blend in eggs and vanilla.
Combine dry ingredients and add to butter mixture. Mix until well blended.
Stir in chocolate chips. (And no need to refrigerate this dough...because really, who wants to wait for that anyway?)
Drop by rounded teaspoon onto ungreased baking sheets. (I like parchment paper.)
Bake at 375° for 7-10 minutes until golden brown. (I bake at 350°)

Note: For a softer, rounder cookie add 1/2 cup flour. (Definitely add the extra flour...makes a rounder cookie, but doesn't make it too cakey.)

I usually half the recipe and it makes about 2 dozen cookies.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Top 100 Tutorials

Time to get busy. The Top 100 Tutorials of 2009 is out. Now to narrow the selection...

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Homemade Pendants

A few years ago, Ben gave me some wooden tile pendants that he got on Etsy and I have loved them. I finally decided to try and make some as gifts for Christmas this year. You can order all the supplies you need on Etsy (I did some glass and some with scrabble tiles) or you can get some things at the craft store. There are already a lot of tutorials online for making can find one here.

I made little personalized tins to hold each set of pendants: