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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 one is healthier to use than the other? With a little
research we can solve this dilemma.
First, what is shortening? It is a semisolid 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 scr atching 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 to 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 its has a higher melting temperature. During the baking process of
cookies it helps dough hold its shape longer. This allows the flour and
eggs to set, keeping the dough from spreading too much. There are some
new shortening products on the market that contain no trans fats or very
Second, what is margarine? Margarine is again made from vegetable oils
and contains no cholesterol. Margarine is high the in good fats
(polyunsaturated and monounsaturated), but contains some saturated fats.
Some margarine is worse than others. Hydrogenation solidifies the
margarine. The harder the margarine the more trans fats it contains.
Trans fat raise levels of bad cholesterol and lower the levels of good
cholesterols, which makes it worse than saturated fat. Tub m argarine is
lower in trans fats than stick margarine.
Third, we all know that butter is created from a dairy cow’s milk cream
fat. Being that, 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. Butter is
believed to contain traces of hormones and antibodies fed to the dairy
cows. On the bright side butter contains fat-soluble vitamins A, D, E and
OK, now that you are confused now more than ever let’s compare. Margarine
is better than butter when it comes to our heart, but falls flat in the
flavor department. Butter also adds a creamy texture. Shortening helps to
keep your cookies from deflating or spreading out, but again it does not
enhance the flavor. In fact shortening has no flavor. If you are a fluffy
cookie fanatic use half shortening and half butter. You get the raised
cookie with the buttery flavor.
Finally, what should you use, salted butter or unsalted butter. Salt in
butter acts as a preservative, so butter won’t turn rancid when left out
at room temperature. The down side is you are adding extra salt to your
recipe. The problem with reducing salt in a recipe to substitute for
salted butter is different brands of butter has different salt contents.
The rule of thumb is when using salted butter reduce the salt added ½
teaspoon per cup of salted butter. The purist baker will always use
unsalted butter. That way they can be in control of the salt being added
to the recipe. Salt in butter is also believed to add flavor,
overpowering the sweet butter taste, and mask butter odor.
When it comes right down to the 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 experiment. Try different ways to bake cookies
and have fun. As they say, “The journey is the best part of the trip.”
Our web site is all about baking delicious cookies, like the peanut
butter cookie recipe and her list of baking supply products. We give you
all the kitchen utensils and recipes you will need to be a successful
Frank H. Carter,

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