My friend Elissa sent me a link to a New York Times article on butter and cookies. Thanks, Elissa! Nothing brightens the Oatmeal Cookie Guy's day like an article about cookies.
The stuff about the best temperature for creaming butter and American vs. European butter is really interesting, but I thought this was the key nubbin of info (emphasis mine):
“Salted butter was long disparaged by American epicures, but the French, the global butter authorities, welcome salt. ‘Salt makes food taste better,’ said Robert Bradley, emeritus professor of dairy science at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. ‘Why not butter?’”
Yeah...why not salted butter, my fellow bakers?
I've written on the topic of salted butter in baking before, but this might be a good time for a recap. In short, I prefer salted butter over unsalted butter in my cookies because salted butter just plain tastes better than unsalted butter. (Pardon the pun.)
Here are a few other important nubbins (emphasis mine):
“Shortening behaves well at most temperatures and makes crumbly, tender doughs, but has no flavor of its own.”
“‘I can tell a margarine cookie as soon as I bite into it,’ she [Robin Olson, cookie-swap maven] said. “And then I put it right down.’”
So, to recap, make sure you use butter--yes, salted is much better than OK--and stay away from shortening or margarine.
Hmmm...all this butter talk has me thinking about doing another taste test/experiment.