A Chemical Study Of Oils And Fats Of Animal Origin Shortening, Butter or Margarine – What is Best for Baking Cookies?

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Shortening, Butter or Margarine – What is Best for Baking Cookies?

There is so much controversy about what is best to use for baking cookies. You may find yourself scratching your head trying to figure out this dilemma. Which is healthier to use than the other? With a little research we can solve this dilemma.

First, what is an abbreviation? It is a semi-solid fat and refers to a hydrogenated vegetable oil. There is so much controversy about what is best to use for baking cookies. You may find yourself scratching your head trying to figure out this dilemma. Hydrogenation is a process of bubbling hydrogen through vegetable oil, changing its chemical structure. This process turns the liquid into a solid at room temperature and below. Shortening is 100% fat. Butter and margarine contain 80% fat. Hydrogenation produces trans fats, which are the unhealthy fats known to cause heart disease. The advantage of shortening over butter or margarine is its smoke point (higher temperature before burning). Another advantage is that it has a higher melting temperature. During the cookie baking process, it helps the dough keep its shape longer. This allows the flour and eggs to rise, keeping the dough from spreading too much. There are several new shortening products on the market that contain no or very little trans fat.

Second, what is margarine? Margarine is again made from vegetable oils and contains no cholesterol. Margarine is rich in good fats (unsaturated and monounsaturated) but contains some saturated fat. Some margarines are worse than others. Hydrogenation hardens margarine. The stronger the margarine, the more trans fat it contains. Trans fats raise bad cholesterol levels and lower good cholesterol levels, making it worse than saturated fat. Tub margarine is lower in trans fat than stick margarine.

Third, we all know that butter is made from the cream fat of cow’s milk. Because it is animal fat, which is loaded with saturated fat and cholesterol. Butter and margarine are equal in calories and fat. Each contains about 35 calories and 4 grams of fat per teaspoon. The butter is believed to contain traces of hormones and antibodies given to dairy cows. On the bright side, butter contains fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E, and K.

OK, now that you’re more confused now than ever, let’s compare. Margarine is better than butter when it comes to our hearts, but falls flat in the taste department. Butter also adds a creamy texture. Shortening helps keep your cookies from deflating or spreading, but again, it doesn’t improve the flavor. Actually the abbreviation has no taste. If you’re a fan of fluffy cookies, use half shortening and half butter. You get the grown up butter flavored cookie.

In the end, what should you use, salted butter or unsalted butter? The salt in the butter acts as a preservative, so the butter won’t spoil when left out at room temperature. The downside is that you are adding extra salt to your recipe. The problem with reducing the salt in a recipe to replace salted butter is that different brands of butter have different salt contents. The rule of thumb is when using salted butter, reduce the added salt by ½ teaspoon per cup of salted butter. The purist baker will always use unsalted butter. This way they can control the salt added to the recipe. Salt in butter is also believed to add flavor, overpowering the sweet taste of butter and masking the smell of butter.

When it comes to decisions between shortening, margarine, salted butter or unsalted butter is a personal preference. But at least with information we can make an informed decision. The best way to decide what is best for you is to experiment. Try different ways to bake cookies and have fun. As they say, “The journey is the best part of the journey”.

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