Dutch Apple Pie

Dutch Apple Pie combines the best of both worlds: the even slices and crust of the Apple Pie and the delicious crumb topping of the Apple Crisp.

Many, including me, prefer making apple crisp when they are in a rush – this can be solved by purchasing frozen pie crusts and thawing them ahead of time. However, some also make apple crisp for the sole reason of that sought-after golden crunch: the brown sugar and oats Crumb Topping that layers Apple Crisp and probably gives both of its names; the American name “Apple Crisp” and the British “Apple Crumble.”

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5 Tips for Better Cookies

Moving towards summer, there are those, like me, who may start doing more baking as school ends and schedules free up. Something you probably have baked the most (I have) are COOKIES. They come in many shapes and forms, but largely conform to the same principles; Butter with the sugar, then the dry ingredients, the extra crunch, then baking. Cookies Collage

As something you may have done many times routinely, what are some ways you can change up the process and result in cookies with more flavor, and possibly a more desirable texture?

  • Tip #1: Brown the butter. You don’t have to brown all of it; Half the amount of melting butterbutter you’ll use can go into a saucepan, while the other half simply stays softened. Melt the first half in your saucepan, and keep over heat until it acquires a stronger smell and browns a little. This will give your cookies a deeper richer flavor.

 

  • Tip #2: Add instant coffee grounds. Don’t put too much in. The coffee grounds, like the browned butter, play a similar role to salt and brown sugar, and deepen and bring out a fuller or different flavor. This may not work well in some cookies, but can work swell in different sorts of chocolate cookies as coffee compliments chocolate magnificently.  Use your judgement before adding coffee grounds to your cookie batter willy-nilly. And if you decide to use it, mix it with your dry ingredients before adding.
  • Tip #3: Subtract an egg white. This one is an idea from America’s Test Kitchen. By leaving out an egg white (via egg separation), you are “bringing out the brown sugar” flavor. I use this method in my recipe “Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies” and it works amazingly.
  • Tip #4: Increase oven temperature. This is another great idea from America’s Test choco chip cookiesKitchen. By increasing your oven temperature, you are effectively browning the edges and allowing the middle to stay nice and soft. Don’t go crazy with this – keep your oven at around 375 F.

 

 

  • Tip #5: Add more vanilla. A bit of advice from my aunt, and I use it as a general rule of thumb for any sugary baking project. If you are using a recipe, it will almost every time benefit if you add around an extra teaspoon than what is called for. Vanilla acts like salt and brings out the full potential of flavor.

 

There you have it! Feel free to comment with techniques of your own, and please check out my other recipes, including Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies, and Soft Snickerdoodles, and follow my blog to stay updated via email!

Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies

These delicious chocolate chip cookies are crunchy on the outside and chewy in the middle, full of chocolate chips, and not too sweet.

Serve with a glass of milk, or discard the lactose and enjoy these cookies without the milk, and if you wish to stay away from dairy entirely, then it may benefit you to also discard the butter which is present within the cookie batter, and instead use softened coconut oil, which works quite well as a substitute in many situations.

Perfect Choco Cookies michaels test kitchen MAIN #2

 


Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies recipe – – – – PRINT

Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies recipe card picture

Science of Meringue

Most of us have probably observed the phenomenon of an egg white, once whipped, taking a fluffier, whiter, and more structured form, which is taken advantage of in many types of baking, from souffles to angel cakes, to waffles.

Meringue in oven

Confusing as to the precise language of the term “meringue,” Encyclopedia Britannica describes Meringue as a “mixture of stiffly beaten egg whites and sugar that is used in…desserts” [emphasis added], while many seem to use it to refer to the specific Meringue Cookie, the recipe we will be studying in this post, which is the meringue mixture basically piped into a cookie shape and baked to harden.

This is the most straight-forward dessert, regarding its simple and obvious use of egg whites, in my opinion, so that is why I will be using this form of meringue to explain the science in a basic manner. You will have probably used meringue or seen it used to top Lemon Meringue Pie. Whipped fluffy, then spread over the top, the meringue mix solidifies in the baking process in some sense, but keeps its soft and airy characteristics.

Enjoy!


Meringue Cookies recipe – – – – PRINT

Meringue Cookies recipe card picture

 

SCIENCE OF:

  • You’ll want a low oven temperature so that you give plenty of time for all of the water to evaporate from the egg white before the tops brown too much.
  • By beating the eggs, you are breaking apart the “building blocks” of protein, unraveling the amino acid chains. This is called denaturation. Unraveling the chains will give the egg white more surface area and structure, because, once separated from each other in long strands, the aminos will connect to form “networks,” which in turn trap the air bubbles. You’ll need to make sure that there is no moisture like water or grease in your bowl of egg whites, and of course no small bits of egg yolk. All of these things will interfere with the denaturation and prohibit peaks from ultimately forming in the way you need them to. Another thing that is helping the egg white to foam up is obviously lots of air. Air is getting trapped in the egg whites, expanding them, and the proteins are holding everything together.
  • Even though the proteins are connecting together and structuring themselves, they have a tendency to fall apart after a lot of beating and whipping. In order to keep the proteins from falling apart from their networks of bubbles as easily, recipes such as this one call for you to add cream of tartar as a stabilizer which increases the acidity of the mixture, which aids the proteins by making it harder for them to collapse back to their original state.
  • Egg whites can’t expand a great deal without added strength. By adding sugar you are adding strength. Why? Because the egg white proteins can “only expand so far” and so the way to give them more structure is by adding sugar, which bonds with the proteins and “lends them water.” This makes the whole thing a lot less likely to simply collapse, and gives it more potential for expanding and holding shape.
  • When you apply the correct amount of heat for the correct amount of time, the water will evaporate and the air bubbles present in the egg whites will expand. At the same time, the proteins will all permanently bond together, or coagulate. For meringue cookies, all of the water should be cooked out, and the result should be much drier than meringue that tops pies, which is generally baked for a much shorter period of time than these cookies.
  • If you leave them out of airtight containers, then the moisture in the air will eventually seep in and ruin the texture and structure.