Cookie Baking Glossary

AAgave
Also called Century Plant, agave comes in over 200 varieties. In baking cookies, agave syrup is used in an equal exchange ratio to sugar. That said, you sometimes have to reduce the amount of Agave used, as the sweetness can be a bit more overpowering than regular sugar. If you don’t like your cookies to be very sweet, reduce the amount by one quarter.

All Purpose Flour
Also referred to as AP flour in some recipes or web sites, this flour is a combination of both hard and soft wheat.

Amaranth Flour
Flour produced from ground Amaranth grain. While it is readily available in more health food stores, it does have a flavor all its own. You will want to experiment with this flour before you serve Amaranth flour cookies to your guests. It’s not a bad flavor, it’s just different.

Amaretti Cookies
Venetian in origin, this little cookies have a crisp outside and chewy inside. They are typically served with some other item. You can sandwich them together with ganache, or serve them with ice cream or a glass of wine. Here’s one of several Amaretti cookie recipes on this blog. I have them categorized under “Italian Cookies”.

B

Baking
To cook food in an oven with dry heat. This is what you do with raw cookie dough, unless you want a tummy ache!

Baking Chocolate (AKA – Bitter Chocolate)
Chocolate used for baking that has no sweeteners or any other added ingredients in it. Typically purchased in bar form. You would normally melt it with butter or some other fat and then add it to your cookie dough.

Baking Pan
A flat pan with straight sides that are ¾” or taller, which is used for baking food in an oven. There are many sizes and depths on the market. A Cookie Sheet is also called a Baking Pan.

Baking Powder
A raising agent that reacts to produce carbon dioxide which expands during baking to ensure that your cookies will have a little bit of “rise” to them. Otherwise, you’d end up with really small crepes! Baking Powder is a mixture of baking soda, an acid (often cream of tartar) and starch.

Baking Soda
A leavening agent known as sodium bicarbonate. Causes dough or batter to rise.

Baking Soda Vs. Baking Powder
Read the difference between baking powder and baking soda in a previous blog post here on The Cookie Blog.

Bar Cookies
Bar cookies are made by baking dough in a pan and cutting it into cookie-sized pieces, typically square in shape. You can find my list of Bar Cookie recipes here.

 

Batch
When you’ve made the dough and baked the cookies from one recipe (meaning you didn’t double or triple the recipe, you made it as the recipe indicated), you’ve made a batch!

Batterie de Cuisine
Pronounced ‘bat-TREE duh kwih-ZEEN’. A French term meaning ‘a complete set of kitchen utensils’. Basically, if you’ve got a complete set of everything (pans, utensils, tools) then you’ve got a Batterie de Cuisine. Lucky you! (My collection may never be complete I just can’t stop buying kitchen gadgets!)

 

Beat
To stir vigorously, or to stir vigorously enough to add air to your ingredients. This is most often done when beating egg whites.

Biscotti
The term means “twice-baked”. This is due to the fact that Biscotti must be baked twice. They
 are very crunchy and made to dip into beverages such as coffee or tea. Find Biscotti recipes here.

Bleached Flour
Flour that was subjected to bleaching agents in order to whiten it from its natural yellowish color. Bleaching gives flour more gluten-producing elements. If you are not baking with whole grain flour, then bleached flour is the best way to go for cookies. It offers a lighter texture, and bakes a bit better than unbleached flour.

 

Blend
To combine into one. For example: to mix until all cookie recipe ingredients are combined into one lump of dough.

Bourbon Vanilla

“Bourbon vanilla is the vanilla most of us know and use. In the 1800s, the French developed large plantations on Reunion, known then as the Ile de Bourbon, which is how the name Bourbon came into being. Although vanilla extract is high in alcohol content, it is not made from Bourbon whiskey.”

Brownies
Brownies are considered a bar cookie and are a cross between a cake and a cookie. They are made with tons of chocolate, and sometimes with nuts or other additions.

Brown Sugar
Molasses-based sugar crystals which caramelizing perfectly in baking cookies.
Cookies made with brown sugar have a darker color and softer texture. When baking, brown sugar melts, caramelizes, browns, and adds flavor to your cookies.

Butter
A fat made by churning milk or cream; for cooking, baking and table use. In cookies, butter enhances flavor in a way that other fats cannot. It offers the flavor of the butter itself, as well as prolonging the flavors of other ingredients in our mouths. Fats stay in our mouths longer than other foods or ingredients. Since fats carry the flavors of the other ingredients they are mixed with, they in turn enhance the flavors of each ingredient that is mixed/baked with them. This is why anything with butter in it tastes far richer and more flavorful than anything baked without it. Butter also softens the texture of a cookie. Without it, you’d be eating sugary rocks. It binds with other ingredients and adds it’s soft, buttery texture to everything it is mixed with.

Butter Cookies
Known as Brysslkex or Danish Biscuits, Butter Cookies are unleavened cookies made with butter, flour and sugar. Typically, some form of flavoring is also added such as vanilla. Find Butter Cookie recipes here.

Buttercream 
A mixture of butter, sugar, and eggs or custard. Used to garnish your cookies by either spreading it on top, or sandwiching it in-between two cookies. Find a yummy buttercream recipe here on The Cookie Blog.

C

Caramelize
To heat sugar until brown and a characteristic flavor develops. Caramelization occurs at 300°F.

Chill
To cool your cookie dough completely. To lower the temperature of your dough to the same temperature as your refrigerator temperature. This usually take a few hours, and is really hard for kids to do because they want to bake their cookies, not wait for them to chill!

Combine
To mix some of your cookie recipe ingredients together until they become one mixture. This could mean, all your liquid ingredients, all your dry ingredients, or all your ingredients.

Confectioner’s Sugar
Also known as powdered sugar, is granulated sugar that has been crushed to a fine powder. It is then mixed with 3% cornstarch to prevent clumps. This sugar is fantastic for dusting your counter tops when you have to roll out dough. Use a cosmetic powder puff to dust your counter with it.

Cookie
Chances are, you know what a cookie is. But here is the official definition from Wikipedia:

“In the United States and Canada, a cookie is a small, flat-baked treat, containing milk, flour, eggs, and sugar, etc. In most English-speaking countries outside North America, the most common word for this is biscuit; in many regions both terms are used, while in others the two words have different meanings—a cookie is a plain bun in Scotland, while in the United States a biscuit is a kind of quick bread similar to a scone.”

Cookie Cutter
A small piece of (usually) copper or tin, bent into particular shapes, and used to cut rolled out dough into that particular shape.

Cookie Sheet
A metal baking pan with very short, or no sides, used for baking cookies. They come in full sheet or half sheet sizes.

 

Cooling Racks
Cooling racks are usually made from metal, and are sold in different sizes. Small metal bars run across the rack both horizontally and vertically, allowing air to circulate underneath your baked cookies (or other goodies) as well as around them. This is the best way to cool your cookies, and they’re affordable. You can get 2 for the price of 1 at Amazon. 

Corn Syrup
A sticky sweet liquid, consisting of sugars dissolved in water, produced from corn (maize). Used as a sweetener in cooking, especially in commercial kitchens but also in candy making. Most cookie recipes do not call for this, but a lot of commercial cookies do have this in them. It’s good to know that corn syrup is not healthy for you. Please don’t use this in your home baked cookies.

Cream
Technique in which fat and sugar are beaten together to incorporate air in the mixture.

Cream Of Tartar
An acidic salt which is typically used to stabilize beaten egg whites.

D

Dough Scraper
A flat, heavy metal blade (about 3 X 5-inches) with straight sides, sharp corners and a handle on top edge for moving, kneading or cutting dough.

 

Dragees
Round, edible sugar balls coated with gold or silver that are used to decorate cookies and other baked goods.

 

Drop Cookies
When cookie dough is to “wet” to form with your hands, you must use spoons to spoon the dough in small amounts onto your cookie sheet. Cookies made in this way are referred to as Drop Cookies.

E

Edible Glitter
This stuff is so much fun! It looks like real glitter and comes in tons of different colors. But it’s edible!

 

Edible Pearls
These are Dragees (see above), but they come in every conceivable color. Dragees refers to the silver and gold, while edible pearls refers to the other colors. They are essentially the same thing, and are used for decorating cookies and other baked goodies.

 

Egg Wash Or Glaze
Whole egg or egg white, typically brushed over your cookies when they are on the cookie sheet, and prior to baking. The result is a shiny”finish”.

F

Flour Sifter
A kitchen tool used to sift the flour you use in your cookie recipes. Some recipes call for this, others do not. (See Sift)

Fold
When making cookies, a recipe will sometimes ask you to “Fold” a certain ingredient.
The recipe is asking you to be very gentle so as not to let the air out of the mixture you are folding an ingredient into.

For example, when you fold beaten egg whites into your batter, you want to do it gently enough to retain as much of the volume as possible. The best utensil to fold with is a spatula.

Fondant
A sweet, elastic icing made of sugar, corn syrup, and gelatin. With cookies, it’s rolled out with a rolling pin, and usually cut or molded into shapes. It is then applied to a cookie with just a drop of water to secure it. Think of it as edible play-dough. You can do just about anything with it.

Food Processor
A kitchen appliance with interchangeable blades. You can use this to turn nuts into meal, or to thoroughly blend your cookie ingredients. Most cookie recipes do not call for the use of this appliance. However, if you need a bunch of nuts chopped really fine, really quick, this is the machine!

 

Fortune Cookie
A crisp, thin cookie folded in a manner which allows it to encase a small piece of paper with a “fortune” written on it. (Chinese food, anyone?)

Frosting
A sugary, often creamy coating you can use to decorate your cookies. However, more often, it is used for baked goods such as cakes or cupcakes. If you don’t know the difference between frosting and icing, here is the explanation on my blog.

G

Ganache
A filling made from heavy cream, chocolate, and/or other flavorings. With cookies, it is generally used as a filling for “sandwich cookies”. You can also dip your cookies in it and let it dry. You will usually find it in French macarons and the like.

Gingerbread Cookies
These wonderful cookies are made with (big surprise here…) ginger! Okay, so there’s a few other spices thrown in as well. If you’d like to know the history of these amazingly flavorful cookies, click here. If you just want a recipe, I have a few on this blog here.

Granulated Sugar
This is ordinary table sugar. The stuff you can buy in a 5 or 10 pound bag at the grocery store. When a cookie recipe calls for sugar, this is the stuff you use. It is literally, sugar in granules.

Grease And Flour
If you are asked to grease and flour your baking pan, simply rub it down with grease like butter or vegetable oil, or spray it with cooking spray. Then, using a small amount of flour, shake the flour around on the pan until it coats the pan completely. While I’ve heard of some Bar Cookie recipes that require this, I’ve never run across one myself. But I put it here just in case.

H

High-Altitude Baking
If you are concerned about altitude when you’re baking cookies, you don’t really have to worry about it unless you are above 2,500 feet. If you are higher than that, here’s what to do:

  • put on a little more grease when greasing your pans
  • consider increasing your oven temp just slightly
  • use a bit more liquid in your recipe
  • slightly reduce your sugar and leavening (baking powder/soda)

You will have to experiment, as different altitudes will effect your recipes more or less.

Honey
Honey is a sweet, thick fluid produced by honey bees. When baking cookies, you can substitute honey for sugar in equal measurements. In some cookies, you may need to reduce other liquids to keep the appropriate texture for that particular cookie.

I

Icebox Cookies
These lovely little goodies are handy to keep in the freezer for unexpected guests. You make the dough, and then keep them in the “icebox”. They are usually shaped into logs, so all you have to do is cut off as many cookies as you want, and viola’! Fresh baked cookies in 10-12 minutes! These cookies are also called Refrigerator Cookies. There are tons of recipes out there. You can find them on this blog as well!

Icing
A sweet glaze made of sugar that you use to decorate the top of your cookies with. If you don’t know the difference between frosting and icing, here is the explanation on my blog.

J

K

Knead
Most often, kneading dough refers to bread making. But on occasion, you may see it in a cookie recipe. The idea is to mix and manipulate the dough on a counter top or in a bowl, using your hands. Most cookie recipes do not require kneading, and will even go so far as to tell you to avoid it, depending on your recipe.

L

Lace Cookies
These thin, crisp yet delicate cookies are ideal to serve with a bowl of ice cream. They derive their name from the fact that they look very similar to lace when they are finished. The are very thin, and very delicate. Not good for shipping, but great for some added impact on your dinner guests! Here are the recipes on my blog for Lace Cookies.

Leveling
This refers to the dry ingredients in your cookie recipe. For example, flour. To level, fill your measuring cup up with flour (more than you need), and then, using the back of a knife, run the knife over the top of the measuring cup to remove the excess flour. You should do this with all flour and sugar ingredients to get an exact amount.

Liquid Measure
A unit for measuring liquids such as water, syrups and oils. Use this when you are using natural sweeteners like honey in your cookie dough.

M

Maple Syrup
Maples syrup is a sweet syrup like honey or agave that is made by concentrating sap from sugar maples. It adds wonderful flavor to any cookie, but also a very distinct flavor. This is not a good general sweetener like agave is. Maples syrup adds it’s own flavor to a cookie, and a recipe for maple syrup cookies usually includes standard spices like cinnamon or ginger. Here are some recipes I’ve collected for these kinds of cookies.

Meringue
A mixture of stiffly beaten egg whites and sugar, that are typically baked in the oven until you get a nice golden brown color. Most cookie recipes don’t need meringue. But I put it here because I think it would make a great topping for certain cookies.

Mexican Vanilla

The Mexican vanilla bean is a thicker and darker bean that has a smooth, strong, rich fragrance and flavor. Some say they are the best. The one problem is that some manufacturers of vanilla products in Mexico add coumarin, which is banned by the FDA because it can cause liver and kidney damage. So make sure you always buy Mexican vanilla products from a reputable supplier”

Microplane
A tool used to grate zest. It looks like a long, narrow cheese grater with a handle. But the grating holes are much smaller. You hold it in one hand while you rub a lemon or orange against it. It’s a wonderful tool that makes zesting a quick and easy job.

 

Mise En Place (pronounced Mee Zon Plahs)
To have all ingredients and equipment ready for use before starting a – in this case, cookie – recipe.

Mix
If you are mixing something, you are simply combining or stirring your ingredients.

Molasses
A thick, sweet, brownish-black liquid byproduct of sugar-refining. Molasses adds just a hint of “bitterness” to a cookie as it sweetens. It will also darken your dough. As with Maple Syrup, it has a distinct flavor and is typically used with certain spices.

N

Nonpareils
A decorative confection of tiny sugar balls that come in many different colors and are used to decorate cookies.

 

O

Oven
Folks, if you don’t know what an oven is, you might not want to try baking cookies. And oven is the thing you bake your cookies in. It’s the square thing in your kitchen that heats up and cooks/bakes foods of all kinds.

P

Pack
This refers to brown sugar. Using a dry measure, firmly press your brown sugar into the measuring cup. Press in a bit more than you need, and then use a knife to level it off. When you turn the cup upside down, the brown sugar should fall out in a lump the same shape as your measuring cup. If it falls apart, you did not press the sugar down tightly enough.

Parchment Paper
A moisture and grease-resistant paper used to line your cookie sheets. Always use parchment paper for baking cookies. Never wax paper. Read this blog post to find out why.

Pastry Brushes
These are little brushes sold in kitchen supply shops that you use to brush stuff onto your cookies. These are very useful for older recipes that call for brushing your cookies with egg before you bake them to give them that “shiny” finish. You can use these brushes for all kinds of other things in the kitchen as well.

Pastry Flour
This soft wheat flour, though not readily available in all stores, is fantastic for making cookies. It produces a crumbly yet tender cookie texture.

Preheat
To turn your oven on ahead of time, so that when your cookies are ready for baking, the oven is already at the required temperature.

Q

Quins
These are similar to nonpareils. They are used to decorate your baked goodies, but they come in shapes.

R

Recipe Scaling
This what you do when you appropriately enlarge or decrease your cookie recipe. Typically, recipe scaling is used for commercial purposes. A business will scale a recipe that was used to make 2 dozen cookies, into a recipe that makes 200 or 2000 cookies from one batch. Recipe scaling can also be used to change a commercial recipe into a recipe appropriate for smaller quantities needed in the home.

Important note: recipe scaling is not simply doubling or quadrupling a recipe. Adjustments have to be made in the amounts of each ingredient so that the resulting cookies will taste the same as they did in the original recipe. Simply quadrupling a recipe, or cutting in half, will not necessarily produce the same cookie that the smaller version did. There is an art and science to recipe scaling.

Refrigerator Cookies
(See Icebox Cookies)

Rice Syrup
A natural sweetener made from cooked rice. The result is a thick syrup that can be used in baking cookies. Rice syrup is not overly sweet, so you may want to combine this with another natural sweetener like honey or agave to achieve the sweetness of a typical cookie.

Royal Icing
A hard white icing, made from softly beaten egg whites and powdered sugar. It’s called Royal icing because it was typically used on fruitcake which was a traditional wedding cake for English royalty.

S

Sanding Sugar 
A course sugar that will not melt when baked. Used as a decoration on cookies, sanding sugar will give your cookies “sparkle”.

Scale Ingredients
To use a scale to weight ingredients, rather than measuring them. This is a far more accurate method of measuring ingredients for any recipe, not just cookies.

Shelf Life
Refers to the amount of time a product (in this case, a package of cookies) can sit on a shelf or in storage without going bad.

Shortbread
A crisp and delicate cookie which came onto the cookie scene sometime in the early 1700s. Shortbread tends to be a bit drier than a regular cookie. Sturdier versions are great for shipping.

Sift
To put flour through a sieve or Flour Sifter to add air to the flour, allowing for more accurate measuring.

Silpats
Silicone baking pan liners. These do a similar job to parchment paper, but you wash and reuse them instead of throwing them away. They do a great job, but parchment works too.

 

Sparkling Sugar
(See Edible Glitter)

Spelt Flour
A very popular and widely available non-wheat flour, spelt will add a slightly sweet and nutty flavor to any cookies you bake with it. It is a high protein grain, and can be substituted in most cookie recipes. It does affect the texture however. Cookies made with Spelt Flour have a more “rugged” texture.

Spice Cookies
A cookie flavored with spices, typically cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice and cloves. But the combination varies from recipe to recipe. A gingerbread cookie falls under this category, but the true spice cookie is a Lebkuchen cookie, popular in Scandinavian countries during the holidays.

Sprinkles
A decoration, sprinkle are usually thicker than course sugar, come in a multitude of colors, and have a “waxy” finish.

Spritz Cookies
A simple butter cookie. Popular in Scandinavian countries around the holidays, these little goodies get pushed through a cookie press which forms the dough into shapes like stars.

Sugar Pearls
(See Dragees)

T

Tahitian Vanilla
A sweet, floral fragrance is the trademark of Tahitian Vanilla, and many pastry chefs use it for this reason. It can be a bit more difficult to find in the stores, but it’s worth looking for. Just wait until you taste some cookies made with it, you’ll know why so many chefs prefer it.

U

Unbleached Flour 
Matured and bleached naturally by oxygen present in the air, this type of flour does not undergo the bleaching process that Bleached flour does. Unbleached flour is not the best choice for cookies. Bleached is better in this case.

V

Vanilla
Vanilla is both a bean, and a flavoring. You can purchase the beans and scrape out the seeds to add to your cookie dough, or you can purchase it in liquid form. The liquid form is typically made from the vanilla bean and some form of alcohol for preserving. Alcohol free versions do exist, but may be harder to find depending on where you shop.

W

Wax Paper
Paper that has been coated with wax or paraffin. Please do NOT use this when baking cookies, or anything for that matter. Think of a candle. What does wax do when it gets hot?….. now you see why you don’t want to bake with it. All that wax will melt onto your cookies. Ick!

Whip
(See Whisk)

Whisk
a) A kitchen tool with looped wires
b) Incorporating air in the process of beating a mixture such as eggs.

Whole Wheat Flour
Made from the whole kernel of wheat, this flour is higher in fiber and other nutrients than bleached or unbleached (white) flour.

X

Y

Z

Zest
This is the very outermost layer of a citrus fruit, such as lemon or orange. It is typically removed with a paring knife or a Microplane (I call it a zester). For added sweetness, mix your zest with sugar before using, although this is not really recommended for most cookie recipes.

 

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