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Friday, October 30, 2009

HEAD TO HEAD: Battle Margarine – Fleischmann’s vs Earth Balance

(Postscript:  Read on, and then see this post from later in the day, to discover the stunning conclusion to this shocking cookie episode!)

marg 002

Blah.  Ugly cookies!

I wrote here last week about my margarine revulsion, which makes life particularly difficult because of the demands of kosher-pareve baking.  Sometimes I do just say to heck with it and save a recipe for when we’re having a dairy meal.  Some things simply cannot be substituted.

However, chocolate-chip cookies are not one of them.  They usually work well and end up quite tasty using non-dairy oils. 

I used Crisco butter-flavoured shortening until a few years ago, when they reformulated it using the U.S. recipe – which contains dairy.  As I mentioned in a note to the manufacturer, if I want to bake with dairy, I’ll stick with pure butter, thanks.

temp_marg1Since that change, I have been using Fleischmann’s “blue” – their unsalted pareve tub margarine (the red one shown here is salted).  I have never had a problem using tub margarine and generally, the cookies turn out great.

temp_marg2But… last week, in a fit of extreme margarine hateitude (prompted by a particularly margarine-y dessert over Yom Tov), I sent Ted out to buy Earth Balance, this more expensive form of not-quite margarine (since it’s not hydrogenated). 

The manufacturer claims it can be used like butter or margarine for cooking and baking…  but I beg to differ. 

See the chocolate-chip cookies above?  When made with Fleischmann’s, they look like actual, normal cookies.  Depending on a number of variables, they sometimes spread out a bit too much, but if the dough is chilled and they are made with care, they tend to be nice, crumb-y cookies.

Now look at the cookies up on top.  They spread out within seconds into a gooey, translucent mess and baked up so crunchy-hard and crunchy they are more like a candy than a cookie.   When I removed them from the oven, they were overly tanned looking on top and had an unhealthy-looking oily sheen.

cookie 001Held to the light of the monitor,  you can see that there is too little “cookie” there… it’s all flat and full of holes!  I have never seen cookies quite so disastrous.

I tried “mounding” them more, and baking them for less time, but then they were just underdone and I had to return them to the oven to bake fully.  I’m just thankful I was baking on parchment paper, or the pan would have been a write-off.

Do they taste “naturally delicious” as the manufacturer promises?

Well, they’re not bad.  There isn’t a margarine-y taste, as such.  They are very much on the greasy side, as if regular cookie dough was somehow deep-fried, which is what I suspect this non-margarine product does when exposed to oven heat:  melts away and deep-fries the cookie around it.

They are certainly not fit to take as a gift for friends whose house we are going to tomorrow… so I guess we’re back to square one, dessert-wise.

And I guess it’s back to Fleischmann’s for us and our chocolate-chip cookies.  If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.  I still plan to try Earth Balance in a cake recipe I’m making later today, and perhaps to try the tub variety in a future batch of cookies. 

And you can be sure I’ll keep my loyal reader(s) posted when I do!

3 comments:

Isla said...

I have to make a dairy free glaze for a cake. Do you think Fleischmann's or Earth Balance would taste better? Thank you for the info on what works better in cookies, too. Saved me a bit of trouble!

Jennifer Tzivia MacLeod said...

Isla, have you considered coconut milk? I make a very acceptable (yummy) glaze for cinnamon buns with that. http://breadland.blogspot.co.il/2014/03/giant-cinnamon-bun-for-shabbos.html

Otherwise, either marg or earth balance would be fine... In general, I'd use as little of either one as possible, because the idea of eating it straight is kind of yucky. Earth Balance would be healthier, I guess, but you can use other non-dairy things, like coffee or lemon juice, to make delicious glazes and frosting...

Good luck, and thanks for stopping by!
More baking on my bread blog here.

Isla said...

Oh, that coconut icing looks amazing! Thank you for the reply. The coconut flavor will not go well on this particular cake, but I will use it in the future. Thank you and off to check out your site!