You might be thinking about making some delicious cookies sometime soon. Depending on the type of recipe that you decide to go with, you might come across some ingredients that you aren’t as familiar with.
Many cookie recipes call for cream of tartar, but a lot of people aren’t even sure what it is or what it does for cookies. Is cream of tartar a necessity and is it something that your cookie recipe can’t be without?
Read on to learn a bit about cream of tartar and its properties. You’ll come to understand how it is utilized as a cookie ingredient so that you can make proper use of it moving forward.
Why Cream of Tartar Is Used in Cookies
Essentially, cream of tartar is used in cookies to help stabilize your whipped up egg whites.
If your cookie recipe uses whipped up egg whites, then it’s very likely that it will also call for cream of tartar. This is because cream of tartar will keep your sugar from crystallizing and it can make a good leavening agent as well.
This is an ingredient that just helps to make sure that your cookies turn out the way that they’re supposed to. Your cookies will be more likely to bake properly if you use cream of tartar as instructed in whatever recipe you happen to be using.
This will keep you from having the sugar in your cookie dough get too crunchy and you’ll have a much smoother cookie to enjoy overall.
Cream of Tartar Is a Dry Powder
When you actually take a look at your cream of tartar, you’ll discover that it is a dry type of powder. This powder is created as a byproduct from fermenting grapes into wine and it has the technical name of potassium bitartrate.
That name doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue and this is why it is called cream of tartar on store shelves everywhere.
It has become a common ingredient that people keep in their pantries even if it is mostly used for baked goods. Not every cookie recipe is going to call for cream of tartar, but many of them do.
It’s good to keep this one around if you like to bake things quite often because you never know when you might need some.
Why Cream of Tartar Is So Useful
Cream of tartar is particularly useful to people who like to bake pies with meringues. If you’ve ever made a meringue pie before, then you know that the process involves whipping egg whites.
This isn’t always easy to do since you need to whip the air into the egg whites to get the right consistency, but cream of tartar can help with this.
When you add it to your egg whites, it stabilizes the overall structure of the air bubbles that you’re trying to beat into the egg whites. It makes it so that you can make your meringue faster and you’ll probably have a better meringue that is taller and more impressive.
This isn’t something that is only used for pies, though, and you might already know that some cookies make use of meringue.
If you don’t have cream of tartar around when you’re making meringue for pies or cookies, the process will be tougher. This is why you should make sure to buy some the next time you’re at the store if you know you’re going to be doing some baking.
It’ll make your life simpler and your desserts will turn out better.
Making the Perfect Snickerdoodles
Aside from helping with meringue pies and cookies, cream of tartar is also a common ingredient in snickerdoodles.
Snickerdoodles are favorites of millions of Americans and you might make some of these tasty treats each year. Cream of tartar makes snickerdoodles better than they already are by helping them to be tangy and chewy.
You can thank the acid in cream of tartar for helping snickerdoodles to turn out so well. They keep the sugar from crystallizing in the cookie dough and this makes snickerdoodles turn out just right.
If you want to make the best snickerdoodles, you aren’t going to be able to go without using cream of tartar.
Combining Cream of Tartar with Baking Soda
You might have heard about people combining cream of tartar with baking soda if you’ve been baking things for a long time.
As mentioned earlier, cream of tartar can also be utilized as a leavening agent. This occurs when you combine it with baking soda to replace baking powder.
If you ever need to bake something and you discover that you’re all out of baking powder, you can just combine some cream of tartar and baking soda. It works very well in a pinch and many people have used this method over the years.
You can easily see why cream of tartar has become a pantry staple for so many bakers around the world.
Is There a Substitute for Cream of Tartar?
Yes, there is a substitute for cream of tartar that you can use if you don’t happen to have any. You can take two teaspoons of lemon juice or vinegar and use them to simulate the acidic reaction that cream of tartar will have on dishes.
However, it should be noted that these ingredients have distinct flavors and that cream of tartar is the recommended ingredient.
If you want things to turn out how they’re supposed to, then you should try to always use cream of tartar when it’s called for. Lemon juice might work to create the right acidic reaction, but that doesn’t mean that it will turn out exactly the same.
As long as you’re mindful of this, it’s going to be helpful to know that lemon juice or vinegar can potentially do the trick.
Buy Cream of Tartar for Your Pantry
Be sure to buy some cream of tartar for your pantry the next time you walk down the baking supplies aisle in your local grocery store.
Anyone who makes baked goods regularly is going to want to keep some in stock. It’s more useful than you might have realized and it really is an essential ingredient that you will want to pay attention to.
Now that you know more about cream of tartar, it should be easier to appreciate it. You’ve learned how useful it can be in cookie recipes and you know that it’s essential for creating meringues.
Just be sure that you have some for the next time you’re baking up a storm in your kitchen.
Sarah is the founder of Baking Kneads, LLC, a blog sharing guides, tips, and recipes for those learning how to bake. Growing up as the daughter of a baker, she spent much of her childhood learning the basics in a local bakery.