For years, pastry chefs and baked goods enthusiasts have harnessed the promoting qualities of shortening in various recipes. And it’s why when you don’t have it in your pantry, it seems like you couldn’t possibly get anything done. This is most especially in cookies as the dough needs the proper texture to be flattened and shaped. But you needn’t worry because many other ingredients and food additives can serve as good substitutes.
What does Shortening do in Cookies?
Shortening, by definition, is any fat that’s solid at room temperature and is used in baking and sometimes cooking recipes. Though the commonly used types are made from vegetable oil, animal fat like lard can also be shortening. It’s 100% hydrogenated fat, tasteless, and moisture-free.
When preparing the dough, there are two ways to come out, and each depends on the presence or absence of shortening. The stretchy dough doesn’t require shortening, and such types great for baked goods that perform better under such texture, like pizzas. But in cookie recipes, you need the dough to cut easily, and this is why shortening is added to the batter. Its inclusion allows these cookies to come out moist and lets them harden without breaking shape.
Shortening in Other Baking Recipes
Cookies recipes aren’t the only types that benefit from the addition of shortening to their mix. It helps to retain the shape and adds a certain amount of fluff with just enough moisture in many others. It’s also great for preparing baked foods for proper presentation, as the dough holds well after it’s done. And it works not just for dough, but also toppings and frosting you need to stay in form.
Being purely comprised of fat, shortening also adds a good deal of creaminess to baked goods. When added to the dough, the finished goods come out soft and moist and are more palatable. Shortening doesn’t add any extra flavor as it has none. But it helps the dough to hold added flavors by trapping moisture in its fat base, allowing the dough to incorporate the additives during baking.
Apart from cookies, shortening is also commonly used in a wide range of baked goods and foods including, but not limited to;
- Frostings and toppings
- Cake rolls
- Candy bars
- Pie tartlets
- Dessert squares
- Bangers and mash
Shortening in Cookies- Substitutes
So, you’re making cookies, and you’ve whipped out the flour and everything. But you realize you’ve run out of shortening and wonder what to do. Well, worry not because you probably have great substitutes for it right there in your kitchen. And each one works best for different types of cookies, so you have a wide range of options and flavor possibilities to explore. These are some of the best ones;
One of the most common factors in cookie recipes is sweetness, and applesauce is the best substitute for shortening if this is what you’re looking for. It’s also very dense, so you’re sure that the end product will come out properly shaped with just enough moisture and crumbly texture. To substitute applesauce for shortening, use 1/2 cup for every cup of shortening called for. And if you’re using sweetened applesauce, reduce the quantity of sugar called for in the recipe.
Butter and Flaxseeds
Butter is renowned for being a good substitute for shortening in baking recipes, and cookies are no exception. In addition to producing a crunchy texture, you also get the delicious and creamy taste of butter in your cookies. And when combined with flaxseeds, you get a sweetened and dense batch of cookies at the end of the process. To do this, mix half parts of both to get the full quantity required for shortening. Also, make sure to use butter with a flavor you love or know will complement the intended taste of the cookies.
Vegetable oil has been known for its health benefits, and many pastry chefs have substituted them for shortening in many cookie recipes. To make it easier, consider vegetable oil to be shortening in liquid form since shortening is simply hydrogenated vegetable oil. Though the healthiest type is olive oil, it may not be an accepted taste in cookie recipes. Still, you can use other tasty options, one of the most suitable being coconut oil. To substitute for shortening in cookie recipes, use 3 parts vegetable oil for every 4 parts shortening and sparsely increase the eggs and sugar.
Like butter, margarine is also an ideal substitute for shortening cookies. Its high-fat content allows it to bring out a fluffier yet crumbly texture in the cookies and gives it a creamy, delicious margarine taste. Plus, margarine has a bit of water content, so extra moisture is added to the batter. You can substitute equal parts of margarine for shortening in any cookie recipe, but make sure to use one with a flavor you can accept in the finished product. And if the recipe requires salt, slightly reduce the quantity, as margarine already contains some amount.
For cookie recipes with a milky flavor, your best bet is fresh cream as a substitute for shortening. It’s high in fat and derived from milk, so you’re guaranteed food texture and a delicious flavor, like what you get in milk cookies. Fresh cream does contain a significant amount of water, so take note and slightly reduce the water quantity in the cookie batter. And you can substitute fresh cream for shortening in equal amounts in cookie recipes.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Can you use half butter and half shortening in cookies?
Yes, you can. With such a mix, you get the best of both ingredients. The shortening part makes sure the cookies come out moist, soft, and crumbly. And the butter part enhances the flavor with a creamier effect.
Are sugar cookies better with butter or shortening?
Both are great for sugar cookies. But if you want a flatter shape and crispier texture, then butter is your best bet. Butter has a low melting point, and this causes the dough to spread during baking before the shape is completely set.
How to make cookies soft and chewy?
You can add cornstarch to the dough to make it softer. Adding an extra egg yolk also improves the chewiness. More brown sugar than white sugar can make the cookies softer and moister, and the same happens when they’re underbaked. Also, for extra chewiness, melt the butter.
Making great-tasting cookies without shortening isn’t a pipe dream, as many believe. With great substitutes like these, you can whip up delicious batches every time you hit the oven. Remember to play around with them when making your next tray of snacks till you discover more interesting ways to make your favorite treaties.