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Old 12-03-2005, 03:37 PM   #1
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Using butter instead of shortening in cookies

... can I just swap one for the other? =P I don't want to use Crisco, hydrogenated fat is evil! I say we can substitute, my mom says it won't work.

We're trying to find a good soft molasses cookie recipe since my son is crazy about them. We like the idea of them having buttermilk or sour cream in them, but can't seem to find a recipe that doesn't call for shortening. We found several recipes that call for butter but then they don't call for buttermilk or sour cream.

What would happen if I substituted butter for the shortening here?

Soft Molasses Cookies
1 c Sugar
1 c Shortening
1 Egg
1 c Molasses
1 c Sour milk or buttermilk
4 1/2 c Flour
3 tb Flour
4 ts Baking soda
2 1/2 ts Ginger

Mix sugar, shortening, egg and molasses in bowl. Then mix flour, soda,
salt and ginger together. Add milk & flour one after another; blend
together. Drop by teaspoonfuls onto greased cookie sheets. Bake 7 minutes
in 350F.


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Old 12-03-2005, 03:48 PM   #2
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Butter will spread more. Try substituting butter for half of the shortening. I do that some of the time. Some recipes just do not turn out well when using all of one for the other.

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Old 12-03-2005, 04:08 PM   #3
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I know some recipes call for shortening for a very good reason, but don't remember what the reason is. If I know a recipe contains shortening I think I can taste it, but it is probably my imagination. I usually make only cookies that call for butter.
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Old 12-03-2005, 04:14 PM   #4
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Thanks for the responses. I found this recipe that calls for vegetable oil. That I can deal with. =) I'll let you know how they turn out.

Soft Molasses Cookies
Preparation time: 15 min.
Cooking time: 10 min.

3/4 tsp. Frontier Baking Soda
1/2 cup light molasses
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/4 cup vegetable oil
2 cups Frontier All-Purpose Flour
1/2 tsp. Frontier Ground Ginger
1/4 tsp. salt (necessary)
1/2 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1 tsp. water
1/4 tsp. Frontier Vanilla Extract
nonstick cooking spray

Preheat oven to 375°F. Dissolve baking soda in molasses in a bowl. Stir buttermilk and oil into molasses mixture. Combine next 3 ingredients in another bowl. Gradually stir into molasses mixture. Mix thoroughly. Shape 2 teaspoons mixture into a ball and repeat with remaining batter. Place on a cookie sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake 10 minutes. Cool on wire racks. Combine next 3 ingredients in a bowl and mix thoroughly to make a glaze. Drizzle glaze over cookies.
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Old 12-03-2005, 05:53 PM   #5
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The sort answer is - your Mom is right!

Yes - hydrogenated fat is evil ... on an everyday, or even in quantity on a weekly, basis. But, I doubt you will do your body any mischief with the occasional batch of holiday cookies. If you think a cup of Crisco is evil you should see an analysis of the mixture of fats most professional bakers use for cakes and cookies!

Your Mom is right - you will not get the same results if you sub butter for shortening. Butter has a low and narrow melting point - shortening has a higher and wider melting point. With butter the fat melts at a low temperature, the batter spreads more, becomes thinner, and allows moisture to escape before the dough is set by the temperature - resulting in a crisper cookie. Because of the higher melting point of shortening, the cookie doesn't spread as much, and the dough sets before as much of the moisture has a chance to escape - resulting in thicker and moister cookies.

Shortening also contains something that butter and oil don't - air bubbles which expand when heated. You can overcome this to a certain degree by "creaming" the sugar and butter together (this incorporates air into the fat), but I really don't know what you would do if using oil instead of shortening or butter.
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Old 12-03-2005, 06:39 PM   #6
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Michael, you always give us the best scientific explanations...I really appreciate your input.
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Old 12-03-2005, 07:59 PM   #7
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I NEVER used, or ever will use shortening, it is not only evil, it SMELLS evil!! I always use butter for my biscuits, cookies or any sweets, works fine for me... I use butter from either denmark or germany which are believed to be of better quality than that of Italian, maybe that is the difference?
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Old 12-03-2005, 08:33 PM   #8
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Butter is butter as far as how it behaves in baking. No matter where it is from - it's about 80% fat and 20% water (+/- 2%). It might have a different flavor from one country/region or another (probably due to the diet of the cows) - but in baking it's going to behave the same no matter where it comes from.

My grandmothers used LARD and butter to make pie crusts and cookies. LARD is EVIL! Right? Actually - it's not as bad for you as you might think. Again, it comes down to use in moderation.
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Old 12-03-2005, 09:51 PM   #9
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Listen to Michael. Lard is an acceptable substitue for vegetable shortening. It has about the same melting propeties and gives a more moist and fluffier end result. Plus, any cookies that have a shape require either lard or shortening.

The problem with hydrogenated veggie oils is that not only do they increase LDL cholesterol (the bad stuff), but they also decrease the HDL Cholesterol, giving you a double nutritional whammy. Lard adds LDL Cholesterol, but does nothing to the HDl stuff. And butter has the same affect on body cholesterol as does lard.

And, as Micheal said, all things in moderation. There is vertually nothing nutritious about cookies. So, don't eat them a lot. Save them for very special occasions, and make the best, most flavorful cookies you can, so that you can satidfy your craving with a few very good ones, rather than a bunch of mediocre cookes.

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Old 12-04-2005, 08:28 AM   #10
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I've used Fleichman's margarine as a butter sub in vegan recipes, with more excellent results than I thought I'd have!

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