A very dear student wrote to me this week asking to explain the difference between brownies and cookies. Since both are frequently found on Brazilian menus nowadays, it is essential that we know.
First of all, we need to understand the difference between batter and dough. Both brownies and cookies contain flour, some kind of fat, a liquid, and most likely eggs. However, batter is slightly liquid or semiliquid and can be poured. It is often made by hand mixing or in a blender. Think pancake or crepe batter.
Dough is made from the same basic ingredients as batter, but the ratio is different. Dough has higher flour content and usually needs to be beaten in an electric mixer. Think cakes, pizza crust or bread.
Brownies are an American invention and are made from a batter; both recipes and popularity date back to the 1800s. Brownies are baked in square or rectangular cake tins, and cut into squares. They are popular because they are easy to wrap and carry, can be made ahead of time, and are rich, delicious served a la mode. Brownies are chocolaty, dense, chewy and often contain nuts. They have a higher liquid and/or fat content than cookies. A real brownie will have a shiny surface that is formed when the sugar and egg migrate to the surface as it bakes. Most brownie recipes do not contain baking powder, so brownies do not rise like cakes. There is absolutely no such thing as a fluffy brownie. If you eat a brownie with your hand, it should leave chocolate on that hand. If you don’t have to wash your hand after eating a brownie, it’s not a brownie; it’s a piece of cake. You should ask for your money back or get a new recipe.
Cookies are made from dough, and they date back to way before Jesus Christ. Cookies were baked and eaten by the Persians in the 7th century, BCE. Persia, which is called Iran nowadays, was one of the first countries to cultivate sugar. Cookies are baked individually as small flat cakes and are usually crisp on the outside. Cookies have a higher flour content than brownies, and they are a bit drier and harder and usually don’t dirty your hands when you eat them. Chocolate chip cookies are merely one kind of cookies. There are thousands of other types of cookies. The British call cookies biscuits. For Americans, *biscuits are little breads that accompany breakfast or dinner.
Tattoos have been around for more than 5,000 years. Egyptians, for example, used tattoos to differentiate between peasants and slaves, a kind of social branding. But ink art, which is what some fans like to call tattooing, has really exploded in the past 25 years. But not all of us have succumbed to this fad. And many of us who don’t have a tattoo have a favorite mug. Having a tattoo or becoming attached to a mug are not dissimilar. According to research, 60% of Americans say they have an emotional attachment to a favorite mug. And about 40% said their special mug was irreplaceable, and about 1/3 of those said they would be devastated if it broke. Personally, I think that most of these people don’t have tattoos. Mugs and tattoos are both an extension of our personalities, and both express the way we would like the world to perceive us. That is not to mention, of course, that those of us who have tattoos or mugs are often irrationally attached to them.