• Baking powder is a leavening agent or rising agent. Some others are baking soda, yeast, beaten egg whites and other things. With out it your cookies will be thin, flat, hard and heavy, instead of light and/or crunchy. Baking powder is relatively slow acting, especially when compared to baking soda (sodium bicarbonate). Baking powder is a mixture of baking soda, a base, and cream of tartar, an acid, when mixed with a liquid the two combine and a gas, carbon dioxide,CO2, is released. The tiny bubbles make the dough rise. The liquid is usually added last thing before baking so the bubbles don't just dissipate into the air. The cookies go into a hot oven so the dough begins to set up and the bubbles separate the small particles of firm dough instead of just being baked as bubbles into the otherwise hard cookie. In a bread dough yeast, a one celled plant, is used, as the yeast grows in the dough it releases CO2, in bread you want the big bubbles and that is why you let the dough rise before baking. Without the baking powder you are going to wind up with sweet hard tack and I don't care how sweet it is hard tack is still hardtack. Maybe if you are running away from Egyptians you could keep the kids happy with some sweet unleavened bread.
  • Baking powder causes your cookies to rise. Your cookie recipe, if it calls for baking powder, would likely be quite heavy and flat without it. Moreover, do not confuse baking powder with baking soda, another white powder that may, under some circumstances, cause rising as well. Baking soda is NOT an acceptable substitute for baking powder. Baking powder, when mixed with a liquid, will create gas bubbles when heated, which is what causes the 'rising' effect. It creates 'lightness' in your baked goods. "Double Acting" powder creates gas when it gets wet AND when warmed. Most powders from the store are 'double acting'.
  • Yeast is an animal, not a plant. You said it produces carbon dioxide - animals do that. Plants produce oxygen.
  • notmrjohn's got it nailed. excellent answer. go with it.
  • You will have chocklate chip ROCKS.
  • Yeast is not an animal; it is a fungus. The yeast used for baking and making beer is Saccharomyces cerevisiae. When it is in the presence of water and fermentable sugars, it converts those sugars into carbon dioxide and ethanol. As a bit of trivia; yeast infections are caused by another genus of yeast called Candida, and more specifically, Candida albicans.

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