Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Cookie Making Tips: National Cookie Day

Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile by Bernard Waber
Today is National Cookie Day, and with the Holidays coming up, I'm all about Cookie Making. I've seen some wonderful new recipes and decorating on the Internet this season. Be sure and do a few searches to expand your Cookie Repertoire! You can never have too many cookie recipes!

Today, I thought I'd post a few Cookie Tips I've gleaned from Gourmet Magazine, Sunset, All Recipes and making cookies for so many years! Love to hear any tips you have.


1. For me the most important 'rule' (this is not a tip) is to make sure you Chill the Dough. DO NOT SKIP THIS STEP. Put the dough in the refrigerator for a few hours or put it in the freezer for 10 minutes. While you're working, if the dough becomes soft, just pop it back in the freezer for a few minutes.

2. Use the Correct Ingredients. If you haven't made the recipe before, follow it exactly and measure the ingredients carefully. You can always experiment later.

3. Up for debate: Some say that you should always roll out your dough between sheets of Wax Paper, not Parchment, because wax paper peels easily off the top of the dough. If you do this, you can then cut out the cookies and they'll peel right off the bottom sheet. And, yet, some people swear by parchment. Give them both a try and see what you think. And, my friend Pattie swears by using a silpat.

3. Add Salt and Leavening to Butter and Sugar Mixture. If you really want your salt and leavening well distributed throughout the dough, beat it in with the butter and sugar.

4. Fats are major to the spread of a cookie. Generally speaking, fat equals flat, crispy cookies while less fat equals higher, cake-like cookies. Speaking of fats: Whipped spreads are not suitable for baking. Use butter, margarine or shortening (Crisco).

5. Sugars: White sugar makes a crisper cookie than brown sugar or honey. Cookies made from brown sugar absorb moisture after baking, so they stay chewy. Most chocolate chip cookie recipes contain both brown and white sugars.
 How to keep brown sugar soft? Put a piece of white bread in the container. The white bread won’t get moldy (trust me), and you’ll always have soft brown sugar. I put the brown sugar in its own plastic container with the bread. Sometimes I use marshmallows.. it looks better, too.

6. Mixing: Proper mixing is important. Some recipes have a creaming step in which the fat and sugars are beaten together until light-colored and fluffy. Other cookies require a sandy texture, so the fat is cut into the flour. Over-mixing can incorporate too much air into the dough, resulting in flat, overly spread-out cookies. Follow the recipe instructions.

7. Temperature: Unless specified, ingredients should be at room temperature before mixing. Yes, Virginia, take the butter out the night before. For cut cookies, chill the cookie dough before baking. The cookies will hold their shape better. For drop cookies, you can keep them at room temperature before baking; the spoonfuls of dough will spread and flatten out.

8. Equipment and Baking: Not surprising to anyone who bakes, different baking sheets and ovens produce different results. I use rimmed baking sheets (jellyroll pans) for cookies rather than thin flat sheet pans. Instead of greasing each baking sheet, I use parchment for easy cookie removal and clean-up. Some of my friends use a silipat liner.

Love to hear other tips! Please comment!


Geri Saucier said...

Thanks for the baking tips. I always learn something to improve my baking. You affirmed my practice of having ingredients be at room temperature. The hubby wasn't sure if this was right.

~~louise~~ said...

GREAT tips, Janet! While I was preparing for today's cookie post, I learned that cookie sheets should not have a rim. I've never had any problem with the cookies baking evenly but, if someone is worried about it, Better Homes advises to turn the rimmed baking sheet over!

Thanks for sharing, Janet and Happy Cookie Day!