December 29, 2016

Elements of a Cookie

This is the first in a series of posts on cookies designed to do two things: Elevate your overall cookie knowledge (including recipes both Paleo & Poisonous) and see if, as a light hearted experiment, I can rank this website up at the top of Google for the term "cookie".  Here we go!

How much time have you spent thinking about the perfect cookie?  In my mind, "cookie" means one thing: A butter & sugar extravaganza, with limited additions to distract from the essence of the thing.

That's not Paleo

Sure, there are all kinds of things marketed as cookies, and my perspective on this is only 1 in 6 billion (or is it 7 billion now?)  Still, as a self proclaimed cookie monster, and certainly a guy who's spent a LOT of time eating trays of the things (and passing out in a sugar coma), I've got some experience in this arena.  

The more I thought about it, the more I wondered:  What are the elements of cookie-ness?  What makes a cookie better or worse, and how is a cookie different from, say, a brownie or a macaroon, or even a Nanaimo bar (YUM!)?

What I'm talking about are, of the course, the Elements of a Cookie.  Those things that must be present in every cookie worth the name in order for it to reach it's true and full  potential.

If you're Paleo, or Vegan, or Gluten Free, you're probably going to freak out when you read through these Elements.  That's OK.  There are several amazingly good options available to you, and at least for you Paleo & Gluten Free folks we make some of the best in the world.  Ok, onward!

Here are the Essential Elements of a Cookie

1. Sugar

Not sweetener, not fake-o erythritol or maple syrup, or even honey (which we use and LOVE).  For a real honest-to-goodness no shit cookie, there ain't no substitute for sugar.  Sugar (aka evaporated cane juice) is a poisonous substance in anything other than teensy quantities, but it is so damn good that the majority of us illogical humans will guzzle down far more than is good for us.

Sugar is poison, but it's so tasty!

2. Fat

Unlike sugar, a few different fats can be used to make the ultimate cookie.  Butter and lard both work, although purists (and I suppose that's the gist of this article) will stick solely to butter.  

I've seen plenty of health nuts, myself included, experiment with various other animal and vegetable fats (bacon fat, coconut oil, etc) but for the straight-down-the-line Grandma's Oven Fresh cookie you're going to want to stick with butter.

3. Filler

This is where paths begin to diverge.  Some folks use wheat flour, some of us are restricted to only gluten free, some folks get jiggy with it and use amaranth or quinoa.  Still, at the end of the day if what you want is a real deal cookie, you're going to use white flour with all the taste and nutrients processed right the heck out of it.  

The purpose of flour in a cookie is to give structure and texture for the fat to soak into and the sugar to stick to.  It's not for nutrition, or "whole food" anything.  It needs to remain mostly hidden so that your tongue and gut can be fully enveloped in the crumbly sweet & fat heaven that a great cookie provides.

4. Accessory Ingredients

By the time you arrive at the accessory ingredients in any cookie recipe you're into the last few percentile of possible improvement.  This is the portion that is the least important but gets the majority of attention when great bakers start tweaking.  

It's like mental preparation in sport.  At the elite level it's an essential part of the puzzle, but because it's the easiest to fiddle with and no one knows exactly what you're doing in there, it's also the easiest for beginners to get wrong, to fake, or to just accidentally get right.  

To clarify, when I talk about accessory ingredients I'm not talking about large flavor or texture changing additions (like chocolate chips or raspberry jam), I'm referring to the little stuff; salt, cornstarch, baking powder.  Trust me, you can be off by more than a pinch on any of those and no one will know the difference.

Ok, enough about this "Elements of a Cookie" nonsense, you want a cookie recipe, right?  One that's guaranteed to TWIST YOUR GUTS but delight your tongue?  Here is my friend Dennis' World Famous Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe.  

Eat yer heart out.

This is NOT a Paleo recipe.  But it's good!

  • Oven to 375
  • Melt 1/2 cup of butter
  • Add 1/2 cup brown sugar and 1/2 cup white sugar
  • Beat in 1 egg and 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla
  • Add 1 cup + 2 tbsp of all purpose flour (King Arthur, by gum!)
  • 1/2 teaspoon of salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
  • Stir in 1/2 cup of chocolate chips.  Don't bother with Paleo at this point, you're already poisoning yourself.  Go ahead and get the real deal.
  • Spoon on to greased cookie sheet and bake around 10 minutes.  

Enjoy.  Yes, I know it's not Paleo.  I know it has chocolate chips.  It's a damn good cookie.

Nope, not Paleo

Really, you liked this?  Here are a few more you'll enjoy!

Nik Hawks


Nik Hawks helps run the show at Paleo Treats. Fascinated by humans in all their strange glory, Nik is harnessed in and pulling hard in pursuit of excellence with the rest of the PT Crew. Enjoy!

Too much reading...
How about dessert?

Too Much Reading...How About Dessert?

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