Everything You Ever Needed To Know About Baking

Chocolate Chip Cookie Series #5: Crisco’s Shortening

Chocolate Chip Cookie Series #5: Crisco’s Shortening

Chocolate Chip Cookie Series #5: Crisco’s Shortening

The next chocolate chip cookie in the Chocolate Chip Cookie Series is Crisco’s Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookies!

I felt it was important to include in the chocolate chip cookie series a cookie that was solely made with shortening! When we think of shortening, we usually think of Crisco, but actually shortening is any fat that stays solid at room temperature. I will be focusing on Crisco’s history and use their shortening because they are pretty much the founders of what we consider shortening and certainly the most well-known brand!

History 

Crisco shortening was first debuted by Procter and Gamble in 1911 as the very first shortening completely based from vegetable oil. Previously, shortening had been made with animal fat (lard) or alternatively considered margarine, which was first developed in 1869. The invention of hydrogenated vegetable oil in the early 20th century gave a new way to make shortening that would forever change its use, manufacturing, and purpose.

Vegetable shortening and lard share many properties that make them good alternatives to butter or margarine:

  • Semi-solids at room temperature
  • Higher smoke point
  • Higher fat content with less water making it safer for frying
  • No refrigeration necessary

As you can see, shortening was the obvious alternative and was much cheaper to produce than butter or lard. The concept of hydrogenation of fats was patented in 1902 by Wilhelm Normann. A close worker of Normann, Edwin Cuno Kayser moved to the Ohio area where Procter and Gamble were manufacturing soap from lard. Interested in his ability to create soaps in solid form, P&G hired Kayser on. He later produced two different processes for hydrogenating cottonseed oil for soap.

Through his hydrogenation process, P&G observed that Kayser’s product looked exactly like the consistency of lard and the idea was born. So interestingly enough, Procter and Gamble’s initial goal at the time was not to make shortening, but to produce soap from hardened oils through the process of hydrogenation. Once this discovery was made, they immediately starting marketing this new creation as vegetable fat. The name “Crisco” came from the term “crystallized cottonseed oil.” With all the new benefits that shortening offered plus a very clever advertising plan from P&G, Crisco shortening became a hit in American homes and production of different oils for shortening was financed by the government due to its popularity.

Due to increasing health concerns with trans fats, in 2004, Crisco introduce a new version
of their shortening that contained zero grams of trans fat per serving. This new blend of shortening contained “fully hydrogenated palm oil blended with liquid vegetable oils.” This actually more resembled the original Crisco that was debuted in 1911. Later in 2007, Crisco changed all of their shortening products to contain less than one gram of trans fat per serving. The current formula that Crisco uses for their shortening, established in 2012, contains a combination of fully hydrogenated palm oil, partially hydrogenated palm and soybean oils, and soybean oil.

What Shortening Does For Baking

Cookies: due to a higher melting point, shortening helps prevent cookies from spreading. This produces a cookie that is soft and fluffily rounded with a chewy texture.

Cake: with the high fat content of shortening, recipes that call for it will produce a tender, airy, light cake. The leavening of the cake will be extremely similar to recipes with butter. Cake recipes often do not call for shortening because the addition of butter produces a better flavored cake.

Buttercream: again with the high fat content, shortening will produce a buttercream that is very stable and will not melt in the heat. Especially in the summer months, it’s definitely beneficial to consider shortening over butter for the frosting on your cakes or cupcakes. The only trade off here again is flavor, which butter does give to the buttercream.

Brownies: shortening can be used very easily in exchange for butter in most brownie recipes. The missing flavor of the butter will not be as noticeable in this recipe because the focus is more on the chocolate.

Ingredients

1 1/2 sticks Crisco Baking Sticks All – Vegetable or Butter Flavored Shortening

2 1/2 cups firmly packed brown sugar

4 tbsp milk

2 tbsp vanilla bean paste

2 eggs

3 1/2 cups all purpose flour

2 tsp kosher salt

1 1/2 tsp baking soda

2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

2 cup chopped pecans (optional)

Steps

  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Use your oven thermometer to verify temperature.
  2. Beat shortening and brown sugar with paddle attachment in stand mixer on medium
    speed for several minutes until light and fluffy. Beat in eggs one at a time, vanilla, and milk.
  3. Combine flour, salt, and baking soda in a separate bowl and mix thoroughly. Gradually add in dry ingredients to wet in several batches being careful not to overmix.
  4. Add in chocolate chips and pecans if you like. Mix until thoroughly combined.
  5. Drop cookies onto parchment lined baking sheets. Bake for 8-13 minutes until lightly golden brown. Remove from oven and cool on baking sheets for several minutes prior to removing to a wire rack to cool completely. This recipe makes ~72 cookies.

Notes

These cookies can be left on the counter in a sealed container for several days. If placed in the fridge, they are good for 1-2 weeks. These cookies freeze extremely well and can last several months.

Conclusion

The use of shortening in this recipe makes for a soft and fluffy cookie that retains its shape while baking. The use of only brown sugar gives the cookie a wonderful, rich caramelized flavor creating a chewy cookie. Overall, I enjoyed these cookies quite a bit (I haven’t met many cookies I didn’t like :))! If you like cookies that are chewy and softer, this is the cookie recipe for you! I actually liked these cookies better after they had been in the fridge for a few days. They were a little chewy and sweeter with the extra refrigeration time.

I hope you enjoyed the fifth cookie in the Chocolate Chip Cookie Series! What do you think about using shortening in your baked goods? Do you think there is a place for shortening in baking or do you prefer using only butter in your recipes? Let me know what you think and comment below! Check back next week to see the next chocolate chip cookie recipe I try. If you haven’t checked out the first four chocolate chip cookies in the series, click on the links below for each recipe. Happy Baking!

Chocolate Chip Cookie Series #11: Brown Butter

Chocolate Chip Cookie Series #10: Pinch of Yum Soft Baked

Chocolate Chip Cookie Series #9: Momofuku Cornflake Chocolate Chip Marshmallow

Chocolate Chip Cookie Series #8: Double Baked

Chocolate Chip Cookie Series #7: Neiman Marcus

Chocolate Chip Cookie Series #6: The $250 Department Store CookieChocolate Chip Cookie Series #5: The $250 Department Store Cookie

Chocolate Chip Cookie Series #4: Jacques Torres

Chocolate Chip Cookie Series #3: Levain Bakery

Chocolate Chip Cookie Series #2: Throwdown! With Bobby Flay

Bobby Flay's Chocolate Chip Cookies

Chocolate Chip Cookie Series #1: Tollhouse

The Chocolate Chip Cookie Series, Which Recipe Ranks as King?

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7 thoughts on “Chocolate Chip Cookie Series #5: Crisco’s Shortening”

  • Wow. I am hungry!!! Those cookies look delicious. I grew up on shortening but have not used it in a very, very long time. This brings back memories of all the great desserts I use to eat as a child, thanks to shortening 🙂 I’m not a baker, but I will definitely tell my friends about this recipe and site. Somebody has to make me some of these.

  • You have really put some work into this stuff. I am impressed. I appreciate the information, especially for how shortening helps the cookie to not spread out. I have always wanted to know how to keep them from going flat. I did want to say that Crisco probably falls into a classification of being a propriety eponym where the brand becomes the object. Good stuff, thanks.

    • Thanks Alan! It does take quite a bit of time but I love learning the history of baking and where our foods come from. Shortening is a great ingredient for more than just baking with a crazy history! Thanks for stopping by!

  • So is this where we come to confess that we have Crisco hidden in the kitchen? I know it freaks some people out, but it’s a staple in our hurricane prep box. But I also use it a couple of times a year to make peanut butter cookies and then once a year when I fry chicken at home. I didn’t realize they changed it up. This recipe looks great.

    • I feel the same way! I almost feel like its my hidden dark secret that I always have shortening but it comes in handy so often! I certainly love my butter better but there is definitely a place for shortening in my kitchen!

  • Great article especially the history lesson about Crisco and yes I think Crisco is the most well know shortening in North America; I used to use for pies. The recipe doesn’t look too shabby either. (lol) Those cookies sure look yummy!
    I didn’t know you could make frosting using shortening. Thanks for the info. I just learned something new.

    • Yes you can use shortening in buttercream! It wouldn’t give the best flavor like butter does, but the shape will hold up very nicely and your guests will hardly tell the difference. These cookies were certainly delish!

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