Monday, January 16, 2012

Coconut White Chocolate Cookies....AND the difference between sugars

Why is it that in various cookie recipes both brown sugar and granular white sugar can be found in the ingredient list?!

Lately I have taken the initiative to solve this mystery for myself and therefore I dove into my cookbooks and picked up my spatula. 

First note to self, there are obvious color differences between the two sugars (of course!). The difference you ask? Granular white sugar is sugar cane placed through a granulator, then is  dried and processed into grains. Brown sugar goes through nearly the same process as white sugar but also molasses is added to it to formulate its dark characteristic. 

Next, after reading book after book and many cookie batch trials I found the following to be true:

By adding solely white sugar to the cookies, they will come out more crisp in texture and flat. If only using brown sugar or honey, the cookies will tend to absorb moisture in the baking process resulting in a more puffy cookie.

So it is all about preference therefore I break it down to you like this:

Use only white sugar for a cookie that is crisp and flat,
Use only brown sugar for a cookie that is puffy/fluffy (this does not mean chewy).
Use BOTH white and brown sugar for a cookie that is somewhat fluffy and  definitely chewy.
Coconut White Chocolate Cookies

Creaming the butter: Step 1 (notice it is still granular)

Creaming the Butter: Step 2 (it is now light and fluffy in texture)

The batter with all the ingredients incorporated

Form the dough into disks

Coconut White Chocolate Cookies
Author: Brenna Bowers
Serving: about 15-18 large cookies

¾ cup butter
1 ½ cups white sugar*

1 egg
2 teaspoons vanilla extract

2 cups flour
1 2/3 cup flaked sweetened coconut
½ teaspoons cinnamon
½ teaspoons salt
1 teaspoons baking soda
1 cup white chocolate chips

In a mixing bowl combine the butter and sugar. Beat for 2 minutes until light and fluffy. Stir in egg and vanilla.

In another bowl, combine all the dry ingredients except the white chocolate chips. Add to the creamed butter mixture and mix until well incorporated. Stir in the white chocolate chips.

Place onto an ungreased* *cookie sheet into a pre-heated oven at 350 degrees F.
Bake for 10-12 minutes.

When Brenna decides her cookies are ready:
I typically under bake my cookies. I claim they are ready when edges begin to harden and turn light golden brown. The center will still look slightly gooey but I remove them from the oven anyways and allow the cookies to cool before moving them from the cookie sheet.

*By using both brown and white sugar, it will result in a semi fluffy cookie with a chewy texture. Solely white sugar will result in cookies that are crisp and flat whereas only using brown sugar or honey will tend to absorb moisture in the baking process resulting in a puffy cookie. So this recipe is all about preference!

If you tend to like crisper, flat cookies, keep the recipe as is but if your prefer fluffier, chewy cookies, follow the substitution below.
1 ½ cups white sugar for ½ cup white sugar and ½ cup brown sugar

**Never grease your cookie sheet with oil. Cookies have enough butter in them to keep them from sticking. I prefer to place a Silpat on my cookie sheet to prevent any sticking or my secondary option is parchment paper.  If you are not equipped with either, place the cookie dough right onto the cookie sheet.

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