Cookie Tips & Techniques

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Cookie Tips & Techniques

 

There’s nothing more satisfying than baking cookies at home — except maybe giving them to friends over the holidays! Here are our tips & techniques for making the perfect batch, every time.

 

Prep matters. Read your recipe, preheat the oven and assemble all of your ingredients before you get started.

 

Use the best quality ingredients. Fresh ingredients really do make a difference, and your cookies will shine a lot brighter if you purchase best-quality essentials like sweet butter, ripe seasonal fruits, newly harvested nuts and high-end chocolate from a trusted source with a fairly high turnover (bulk bins are often a great option).

 

Don’t skip the salt. Adding salt helps bring out the sweetness and flavor of cookies. To see for yourself, try an experiment: make two batches of cookies, leave out the salt in one, and do a taste test. Chances are you’ll like the salted version better.

 

Stay smooth when measuring. Use dry measuring cups and liquid measuring cups for the appropriate ingredients to ensure the best results. For dry ingredients, use a large serving spoon to fill the measuring cup, then level off the top with a straight handle or a butter knife. To make measuring thick, sticky ingredients like molasses or honey easier, lightly spray the measuring pitcher with cooking spray before pouring in the ingredients. It will glide right out!

 

Achieve the perfect texture. Many cookie recipes call for creaming butter and sugar, adding air and encouraging a light-textured finished treat. Try to use butter that is at cool room temperature. Cut it into chunks, about ½ inch in size, then add the chunks to a mixing bowl. Fit a stand mixer with a paddle attachment or a handheld mixer with the beater attachments and beat the butter for a minute or so to loosen it up. Add the sugar in a stream, then beat it on medium-high speed, scraping down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula, until the mixture is light in color and fluffy. It should take about 3 minutes.

 

Eliminate eggshells. If tiny eggshell fragments fall into a bowl of egg whites or yolks, you can scoop them up with an emptied half shell and they will readily cling to it. They are almost drawn to it as if magnetized! This works far better than using your fingers, a spoon or the tip of a knife.

 

Keep hands clean and cool. Wetting your hands before working with sticky cookie dough helps ensure you don’t stick to it. Warm hands may also cause dough to melt and stick; try dipping your hands in ice water before handling.

 

Wrap, roll and slice. Use parchment to help you shape uniform cookies in a flash. Place the dough on a sheet of parchment paper and shape carefully into a log (sprinkle with flour if the dough starts sticking to the paper). Refrigerate until firm, unwrap, and cut crosswise into slices about ¼ to 1/3-inch thick. Space the cookies out on a baking sheet and bake according to your recipe.

 

Mind the temperature of your pan. Make sure your baking sheet is at room temperature when you arrange your cookie dough on it. If the pan is too hot the dough will melt and the cookies will spread into one another. If your pan is hot and you need to keep moving, try running cool water over the bottom of the baking sheet to cool it down.

 

Pivot your pans. When baking cookies on multiple sheets, space two racks evenly in the oven and then switch and rotate the pans about halfway through baking. This will ensure even cooking.

 

Use a rack. To ensure crisp bottoms, don’t let your cookies sit on the baking sheet for too long after they’ve come out of the oven. After the cookies have cooled for a few minutes, transfer them to a wire rack to cool (for as long as you can keep your hands off them).

 

Freeze your dough. You can make cookie dough in advance and freeze it for a quick and easy from-scratch treat. Prepare the dough, portion it out onto a baking sheet and put the baking sheet in the freezer. Transfer the individual frozen portions into a lock-top plastic freezer bag and use as much or as little as you want at a time.

 

Inspired? Visit our Cookie Swap for more recipes and tips!

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