Types of Cookies
A cookie is described as a usually thin or slightly raised small crisp cake made from sweetened dough. Hundreds of thousands of cookie recipes and variations exist.
Cookie dough can be soft enough to drop, spread in the pan and cut after baking, shaped with a cookie press or mold, stiff enough to roll flat and cut or stiff enough to shape into a log roll and sliced.
They can be made in various shapes, flavors and textures and are usually categorized by the way they are prepared or formed. Most cookies are baked until crisp, some until just soft, while others are not baked at all. Their dominant ingredient, such as nuts, fruit or chocolate chips, can also classify them.
Some cookie types are subtypes of others and there may be a fine line between certain categories of cookies; for example the same dough can either be hand shaped into a ball or dropped from a spoon or the same style cookie can have different consistencies used to form them such as a press or sliced or the dough is shaped, partially baked then cut.
Bar Cookies are made from a soft dough or ingredients that are spread or layered in a rectangular or square pan. They can be crisp or chewy; filled or layered. They are baked in sheets and then cut into squares or bars.
Many multiple layer bar cookie recipes call for a crust that is partially baked first then the filling and topping are placed on top of the hot crust and returned to the oven for additional baking to prevent the crust from becoming soggy and undercooked.
These are the easiest cookies to bake, because several batches are baked at once. Common pan sizes used to make bar cookies include an 8" x 8" x 2" baking pan, a 13" x 9" baking pan, or a 14" x 10" jellyroll pan, depending on what the recipe specifies.
Magic Cookie Bars, smores bars and brownies are a popular examples of bar cookies.
Drop cookie dough varies in texture from quite soft to stiff. During baking, the mounds of dough flatten and spread.
Drop cookies are the most popular type of cookie and the easiest individual cookies to make. They are formed from balls of dough dropped from a teaspoon, tablespoon, or scoop onto a baking sheet.
Oatmeal raisin cookies, macaroons, and chocolate chip cookies are popular example of drop cookies.
Molded or Shaped Cookies
Molded or shaped cookies are made from a stiffer dough that is shaped by the hands or by molds before baking. These shapes can be wreaths, crescents, canes, logs, or balls. Balls are sometimes flattened with the bottom of a glass, a fork, or a molded pan causing the cookie to take the shape of the item used to flatten the dough.
Almond crescents, shortbread fingers, criss-cross peanut butter, madeleines, snickerdoodles, thumbprints, and biscotti cookies are classic examples of a molded or shaped cookie.
Pressed cookies are made from a soft dough that is extruded from a cookie press (cookie gun) or pastry tip (tube) into various decorative shapes. The cookie press can be fitted with a variety of decorative disks that form the shape of the cookie once they are baked, such as Christmas trees, poinsettias, wreaths, flowers, and stars to name just a few. The pastry bag is fitted with various metal tips (tubes) and held at different angles to create a variety shapes.
Spritz (Spritzgebäck) and sandwich cookies are typical examples of a pressed cookie.
Sliced cookies are made from a stiff dough that is usually shaped into a log (cylinder or roll) and chilled in the refrigerator. Once cold, the dough becomes hard enough to be sliced into round cookies and baked. These cookies are sometimes referred to as Refrigerator or Icebox Cookies.
This type of cookie can also be used for rolled layers of different dough or a layer of dough and filling to be rolled into a log and then sliced and baked. Filled and sandwich cookies may be baked with a fruit filling between two slices or sandwiched together by assorted pastry fillings after the slices have been baked and cooled. The logs can also be formed into other shapes such as triangles or rectangles by flatting the sides of the rolls then sliced and baked.
This is a great prepare-ahead-of-time dough because it can also be frozen. A roll of this cookie dough can be stored in freezer then sliced, baked, and enjoyed fresh from the oven whenever a cookie craving strikes.
Pinwheels, palmiers, biscotti, sandwich, and sugar cookies are examples of a sliced cookie.
Rolled cookies are are made from a stiff dough that is chilled, rolled out into a thick or thin sheet with a rolling pin and then cut into a shape with a knife, pastry wheel or cookie cutter.
Rolled cookies are sometimes referred to as Cut Out Cookies. These cookies take a little more preparation.
Gingerbread men, Linzer, and sugar cookies are examples of rolled cookies.
No Bake Cookies
No bake cookies are technically not a category of cookie. These cookies do not require the use of an oven. They are usually quite rich and sometimes taste more like a candy than a cookie.
Rice krispie bars, coconut date balls, rum balls, and peanut butter bars are examples of no bake cookies.
Fried cookies are cooked by frying dough in vegetable oil then often dusted with powdered sugar. They are best when served immediately.
Krusczyki, zeppole, rosettes and fattigmann are examples of fried cookies.