Choosing the Right Tofu?
Several of your cookie recipes call for "silken tofu." I've seen at least three different kinds of silken tofu: firm, extra-firm, and soft. Which type would work best for your recipes?
I can understand your confusion. Now that more people are adding soy to their diets, many of us can find quite a variety of tofu products at our local markets. Tofu -- made from curdled soy milk in a process similar to making cheese -- is an extremely versatile source of soy, and varies in firmness relative to the amount of whey that was extracted. Silken tofu is a distinct variety of tofu that resembles Jell-O or custard, and you can buy it soft, firm, or extra-firm (extra-firm has the densest consistency). In addition, you may also find low-fat or "lite" silken tofu in each of the three consistencies. These are actually a good choice -- they are higher in protein and contain less than one gram of fat per serving.
Silken tofu can be used in dessert recipes (including cookies), in spreads, sauces, pie fillings, or toppings. (Try my sesame almond cookies). "Soft" silken tofu is a good substitute in recipes for light cream, milk, mayonnaise, and eggs, while the firmer types can take the place of heavy cream, yogurt, meat, chicken, or fish. As a general rule, you can reduce a food's fat content by substituting tofu when a recipe calls for butter or eggs. Try substituting silken tofu for mayonnaise in salad dressings, or use it to thicken white sauces -- or to add a creamy texture to soup.
Regular tofu has a consistency that is more spongelike and also comes in soft, firm, and extra-firm. I also like some of the flavored, pressed tofus, such as smoked or teriyaki. You can use chunks of these chewy types of tofu in stews, soups, chili, or salads -- or just eat the slices straight. For an interesting dish with firm, regular tofu, try my recipe for tofu with cilantro sauce.
Tofu has a neutral flavor and absorbs the seasonings you use, making it incredibly versatile. I suggest you seek out the freshest possible tofu made from organic soy, and avoid buying the type sold in bulk in big vats, as it can easily be contaminated. Keep your tofu bathed in fresh water in the refrigerator, and eat it within a week.