Before you say that there is not a single T in homemade cookies, I’d better tell you that the T’s stand for types and texture. They are the two prominent features in our favorite sweet. One often can not be without the other.
We classify cookies based on how we get them ready for the oven.
1. Drop Cookies – If you have ever made chocolate chip, peanut butter, or oatmeal cookies, you undoubtedly use the dropping method. Any kitchen utensils such as tablespoons or ice cream scoops can be used to portion the dough. The trick is to make these portions relatively equal in size so that they bake uniformly. A variation of this technique is rolling cookie dough into balls. Drop cookies tend to have a soft and chewy texture.
2. Icebox or Refrigerated Cookies – I suspect that this type of cookies was invented when someone who did not have time to bake right after preparing the dough. Instead, she shaped it into logs or rectangles and refrigerated it. When she had time later, she sliced the chilled dough into individual pieces and baked them as needed. Many elegant homemade cookies such as pinwheel and checkerboard are of this type. It allows a busy home baker an opportunity to show off her creativity. These cookies usually have a crisp texture.
3. Cut-Out or Rolled Cookies – Dough for this type of cookies needs to be firm. To minimize scrap, start cutting cookies from the edge of the dough, working inward as close to one another as possible. Scrap can be re-rolled but tends to yield tough cookies. Cut-out cookies are often baked on parchment lined or ungreased cookie sheets to keep the dough from spreading and losing its shape. An alternative is to hand-shaped the dough into spheres, crescents, or other traditional shapes.
4. Bar or Sheet Cookies – It takes almost no time at all to transfer cookie dough from a mixing bowl to a baking pan. This is the best method for a busy cookie lover.
5. Pressed or Spritz or Bagged Cookies – The right flour and proper proportion of ingredients are prerequisite for success in baking this type of cookies. The dough should be soft enough so that it can be easily forced through a pastry tip or cookie press. Using eggs as the only liquid will help cookies retain their small, distinct and decorated shape.
6. Wafer Cookies – Being extremely thin and delicate is a distinguishing trait of these cookies. They are made from a batter that you pour or spread directly onto a baking sheet. The cookies need to be molded immediately into shapes after coming out of the oven.
Generally, cookie dough with a relatively high proportion of fat, granulated sugar, and eggs would promote spreading and chewiness. High fat and sugar but low in eggs (liquid) tend to result in crispness. The opposite condition will add softness to your homemade cookies.
SARAH R. LABENSKY, EDDY VAN DAMME, PRISCILLA MARTEL, KLAUS TENBERGEN. On Baking – A Textbook of Baking and Pastry Fundamentals. Pearson Education, Inc. 2005