With the array of butter substitutes and health-enhancing spreads available today, bakers often ask if these products can be used for baking. We took this question to our Test Kitchen, and the answer surprised us all.
You see, we believed butter to be a necessary evil when baking cookies. We chose Buttery Spritz (recipe below) -- the most butter-dependent cookie we could think of -- to prove our point. But as sheet after sheet of dainty cookies emerged from the Better Homes and Gardens® Test Kitchen ovens, we soon found ourselves eating some very good cookies -- and eating our words.
Prep: 25 min.
Bake: 8 min.
Oven: 375° F
1-1/2 cups butter or butter substitute
1 cup sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon vanilla
3-1/2 cups all-purpose flour
Decorative sugars (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 375° F. In a large bowl, beat butter (or butter substitute) with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add sugar and baking powder; beat until combined, scraping bowl occasionally. Beat in egg and vanilla until combined. Beat in as much of the flour as you can with the mixer. Using a wooden spoon, stir in any remaining flour. Do not chill dough.
2. Pack dough into a cookie press. Force dough through press onto an ungreased cookie sheet. If desired, decorate with decorative sugars. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until edges of cookies are firm but not brown. Transfer to a wire rack; cool. Makes about 72 cookies.
Pure, rich butter -- the gold standard in baking -- creates cookies with tender interiors, perfectly crisped exteriors, and famously delicious flavor.
Per 1-tablespoon serving: 102 cal., 11.5 g total fat (7.2 g sat. fat, 0 g trans fat, 4 g polyunsaturated fat, 3.3 g monounsaturated fat), 31 mg chol.
Promise -- Take Control Spread
Spritz dough prepared with this product (which contains plant-sterol-ester) was firm but "spritzed" easily and made perfect-color cookies with a tender crumb and the best butter flavor of all.
Per 1-tablespoon serving: 80 cal., 8 g total fat (1.5 g sat. fat, 0 g trans fat, 4 g polyunsaturated fat, 3 g monounsaturated fat), 0 mg chol.
Brummel & Brown
The dough created with this sweet, creamy spread had an ideal consistency and was easy to press. Spritz spread slightly when baked. Although not especially buttery in taste, Brummel & Brown-made cookies had a pleasant, yogurty tang.
Per 1-tablespoon serving: 40 cal., 5 g total fat (1 g sat. fat, 0 g trans fat, 2.5 g polyunsaturated fat, 1 g monounsaturated fat), 0 mg chol.
Shedd's Spread -- Country Crock
The manufacturer recommends this product for spreading and cooking only, but our Test Kitchen gave it a high grade in spritzing. Its health benefits are minimal, but the buttery flavor was excellent.
Per 1-tablespoon serving: 60 cal., 7 g total fat (1.5 g sat. fat, 3 g polyunsaturated fat, 1.5 g monounsaturated fat), 0 mg chol.
Benecol -- Regular Spread
This butter alternative is a neutroceutical, a food that has been altered with a health-enhancing ingredient such as a cholesterol-reducer. Spritz made with this spread looked like cookies made with real butter, but the flavor was disappointing.
Per 1-tablespoon serving: 70 cal., 8 g total fat (1 g sat. fat, 0 g trans fat, 2 g polyunsaturated fat, 4.5 g monounsaturated fat), 0 mg chol.
Smart Balance -- 67% Buttery Spread
With no hydrogenated oil or trans fatty acids, and a favorable ratio of omega-6 to omega-3 fatty acids, this spread not only offers a healthful profile, but it also yields an acceptable cookie.
Per 1-tablespoon serving: 80 cal., 9 g total fat (2.5 g sat. fat, 0 g trans fat, 2.5 g polyunsaturated fat, 3.5 g monounsaturated fat), 0 mg chol.