Ask Us: I hate using margarine - do you have any cookie recipes using oil?
I've never met a cookie I didn't like, but being kosher, I've always had a hard time with cookie recipes that call for butter. I like to keep my cookies pareve (so I can eat them any time), but I don't like to use margarine. I once read that margarine is molecularly equivalent to plastic - and I believe it! So what's a kosher cookie-loving gal to do?
Well for one, lets start by understanding what butter contributes to the baking process. Many recipes require the "Creaming Method" where solid fat is creamed with the sugar before adding the other ingredients. This method incorporates the maximum amount of air bubbles into the recipe which causes the product to rise and gives it a lighter, tender crumb. Butter also enhances the flavor of the end product.
Recipes that call for liquid fat (such as oil or melted butter) require the "Muffin Method" where ingredients are mixed together until well combined. Less air is incorporated, resulting in a denser product.
When a pastry recipe is developed, the method of mixing is carefully chosen to result in a lighter or denser product. Therefore, recipes that require solid butter (the creaming method) are not interchangeable with recipes that require oil (the muffin method). So if a recipe calls for solid butter, you can only substitute with another solid fat, such as margarine (no thank you), shortening (I'll pass), or coconut oil (my favorite!). On the other hand, if a recipe calls for melted butter, you may only substitute with another melted fat, such as a neutral flavored oil like canola, or melted coconut oil.
If you're looking for a healthier alternative to butter or margarine, coconut oil is the way to go. It is similar to butter in that it can be used as a solid or melted fat. Since it can be used in recipes using both the creaming and the muffin methods, it is the most ideal healthy kosher substitute for butter in cookie recipes. While coconut oil does have a slight coconut flavor, I have not found it to be noticeable in baked goods. The only downside to using coconut oil is that it can be pricey.
Now that you understand the science behind the baking process, feel free to substitute solid coconut oil for butter in recipes that use the creaming method. If you'd prefer to make recipes that only require the quick and easy muffin method (no mixer needed!), then try out the following recipes that use melted fat: