New York Times Article — Importance of Butter in Cookies

Butter makes cookies sing.

This is a very informative article and one every cookie baker should read. Logically, I know this about butter, but can’t say I always follow it. Sometimes my softened butter is definitely over 65 degrees and I’ve been known to soften butter in the microwave……and often!

But this is good information to keep in mind. In fact, I think today I will stick a digital thermometer in the butter and see how long it takes for it to come down to 65 degrees F.

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  1. Rynda says

    I just clicked over to your site to ask you if you’d seen the article. Aha! You are way ahead of me.

    I’m a fan of the taste of butter in cookies. Most of the rest of the article was news to me.

    What did you think of it?

  2. says

    Hi Rynda,

    I just added my thoughts above. I definitely think having semi-cold butter helps the cookies have a better structure, but a lot of times I bake cookies at the spur of the moment and have to soften the butter in the microwave. Usually, I do it for only about 10 seconds, then cut the butter up to distribute the heat and finish it off with a hand held mixer.

    The part about creaming the butter for 3 minutes before you add the sugar is very interesting. It makes sense that it would add extra air, but do you really need extra air in all cookie recipes? After all, they’re not quite the same as cakes. For some cookies adding extra air would be a good thing, but if you are making a dense and chewy cookie, I don’t think that would apply. But I’m not a professional baker and I am learning too! Those are just my thoughts.

  3. says

    I think this is a great article – thanks! Last year a group of friends and I made thumbprint cookies, and they fell flat in the oven and ran together. We couldn’t figure out what went wrong, but lately I’ve been suspecting that the butter was too warm.

    I definitely believe that when I chill the dough for 30 minutes to firm it up before baking, the cookies taste better. Thanks for the timely reminder!

  4. Judy says

    I always use 65 degree butter. I cut it in small chunks and it takes just about 10 minutes to get to 65 – I use my instant read.

  5. says

    Who knew? I’m also one that sometimes nukes the butter.

    But now that I think about it. The butter that is left on the counter to slowly soften does perform better in my baking.

    It’s probably also why my mother used to set the box of butter sticks on the counter before heading to bed. She’d wake up in the morning and make a butter pound cake so good that your tongue wanted to slap your brains out!

  6. says

    I’ve been making Chex Mix the last two nights (see my blog for the awful details). But last night I switched from “I Can’t Believe This Isn’t Margerine” to real, live butter. Of course, I’m not actually looking for structure, as if I were baking, but I really think it’s better!

  7. says

    I read that article this morning, too, and it almost intimidated me. I kind of like my haphazard method of baking (and therefore softening butter). Sometimes I leave butter on the countertop to soften, but I have never once paid attention to its actual temperature. Hrmph!

    Still – this was indeed useful.

  8. Rachel B says

    Fascinating article! Will have to pull out the digital thermometer. It has already, unconventionally, become my favorite way of determining the doneness of bread, thanks to America’s Test Kitchen.

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