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Ten Things Cookie Bakers Really Ought to Know

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For better organization and enjoyment (and a delicious product!), follow these ten tips for cookie baking:

  • Organize! Clear your work area before you begin, and get out all the ingredients. Put each one away as you use it, so you don't forget what you've used. Rinse bowls and utensils as you go.
  • Read the recipe through before you do anything. As you read, check your supply of staples (flour, sugar, butter) and watch for any unusual steps. For example, if the dough has to chill for 12 hours, you should know this before you start, in case you need the cookies by noon today.
  • Insist on good fresh ingredients. Spices lose their flavor over time; if you've had them around since last December, replace them. Unsalted ("sweet") butter is preferable to salted; it is usually cleaner, sweeter, and fresher than salted butter.
  • If you forget to soften your butter ahead of time, cut the stick(s) into thin pats and place them on a room-temperature plate. Leave in a warmish spot for 10 minutes or so, until the butter yields to gentle finger pressure. It doesn't have to be squishy soft.
  • When a recipe calls for toasted nuts (incidentally, that's 8–10 minutes in a 350ºF oven), make sure they're thoroughly cooled before adding them to dough.
  • If you don't already own them, buy yourself a couple of good baking sheets. Thin, flimsy sheets don't diffuse heat well or evenly and can result in scorched cookie bottoms. Tinned steel and anodized aluminum are two good material choices that will last.
  • Invest in a heavy-duty stainless steel cooling rack that's large enough to hold 2 to 3 dozen cookies.
  • Generally speaking, bake only one sheet of cookies at a time, on the center rack. This allows for the most-even baking.
  • If you own only one cookie sheet, cool it to room temperature between batches. This prevents the butter from melting out of the dough and puddling up on the sheet.
  • As a rule, let cookies cool on the baking sheet for 1 or 2 minutes, just long enough to firm them slightly and make it easier to slide them off the sheet and onto a rack.

And here's a shipping tip! Most cookies ship well. For best results, however, choose a relatively firm or dense type of cookie. Wrap cookies individually in waxed paper and pack them snugly in a tin. Pack the tin inside a bigger box, cushioned on all sides with additional waxed paper. And it never hurts to be nice to the postal clerk!

See the Related Articles on this page and the Almanac Recipe Archives for all your Cookies and Bars recipes.

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Comments

Save margarine tubs, oatmeal

By Diane Hrach

Save margarine tubs, oatmeal boxes, cardboard containers from chips, cereal boxes .. Anything that can be used to protect cookies for storage and shipping .. Think how things are packaged ... Columns of crackers in waxed paper tubes in boxes ... Put round cookies in agg cartons .. Use plastic grocery bags to cushion ..

These are great tips, they've

By Thiago

These are great tips, they've really improved my at-home cookie baking. I especially appreciate Rennie's question, because I thought I would never master high altitude baking. Of course, right when I did start to get the hang of it we moved to a lower altitude. But at least I know I can do it, now! Thiago | http://www.cookiefactoryspringfield.com

Anyone got any tips for high

By Rennie Blair

Anyone got any tips for high altitude baking of cookies. I was once the queen of cookies but we moved to a mountainous area a little over a year ago and I have not been able to make a decent cookie. They always turn out very flat. Taste is ok but they look hideous. I have not run across any cookie recipe that has adjustments for baking cookies. Any help would be really appreciated. davren2@gmail.com

Hi there. I found this site

By bobbyjowebb

Hi there. I found this site that should help you in adjusting your ingredients for the altitude you are at. I hope it helps.;

http://www.highaltitudebaking.com/adj_recipes.htm

When my children were small,

By Kawanah

When my children were small, we'd spend many hours every Christmas season baking and decorating sugar cookies and gingerbread cookies to share as gifts and to enjoy ourselves. Before baking, I'd use a plastic drinking straw to poke a hole in the top of the cookie. Once baked, I'd string with Christmas ribbon and hang on the tree. This made the Christmas tree safer and more accessible to even the smallest children in our home.

I read a tip somewhere, maybe

By GadgetGirl

I read a tip somewhere, maybe a cookie cookbook, that said to take a dish towel and wipe down your cookie sheets between each batch that it will help prevent the cookies from sticking.I've been doing it since I read it all those years ago and it works great! No sprays needed.

Some excellent tips! By the

By Linda A.

Some excellent tips! By the way, that tip regarding organizing your ingredients before you start and putting away each ingredient as soon as you've used it applies to baking ANYTHING, not just cookies. :)

If you forget to soften your butter in advance and you're in a hurry, nuke it in the microwave for a few seconds. (Caution! If your butter stick is wrapped in foil, remove the wrapper BEFORE you put it in the microwave, otherwise you'll get arcing, you know, that scary flash of "lightning bolts.") Another way to save a bit of time is to mix together as many of the dry ingredients in advance as possible and store the mixture in a storage container with a lid. (I use large margarine containers that have been cleaned out.)

If you prefer your cookies soft and chewy rather than crispy and crumbly, as I do, bake them at 300 degrees for about 25 minutes.

I'm not a big fan of using parchment paper myself. I prefer using my trusty Baker's Joy baking spray. (PAM has their own version of Baker's Joy now, but it's more expensive.) I'm not so lazy that I either can't or won't clean off a baking sheet.

If you don't have enough

By dawncreates

If you don't have enough cooling racks use a clean grocery bag ripped open to lie flat. I've been doing this for the last 30 years and it works great.

Try packing cookies in

By thinkingworks

Try packing cookies in popped/unbuttered popcorn. When your package arrives the popcorn will be stale (but good for birds) and the cookies will be in good shape.

Silicone baking sheets for

By Charlotte Keyes

Silicone baking sheets for cookies are THE BOMB !! GET ONE and you will NEVER go back to greasing and/or scrubbing cookie off the baking sheets.

I agree. I love mine and

By mgottawa98

I agree. I love mine and would not be without them. They are on the expensive side, but I have used mine for more than 8 years and they are still in good shape.

This is true. These are

By Katrina Fristoe

This is true. These are awesome!!

I have discovered that you

By Deb Montgomery

I have discovered that you can actually make your cookies in advance, but not bake them. This works well with firm dough type cookies. I put them on the pan but instead of putting them in the oven I freeze them and then put them into freezer bags. Then I take them out when I am ready to bake them and put them back on the pan and into the oven. Fresh baked cookies but without the mess and stress at the holidays. We make the dough on rainy days during the summer. I also do this with my apple pies. Line the pie plate with foil, then the bottom crust, add the pie filling and top with the second crust, then freeze. Remove the whole thing from the pie plate, wrap well and return to the freezer. When ready to bake, remove all the wrapping, pop it back into the pie plate and bake. Yum!

I love this time saver too!

By Karen B.

I love this time saver too! I also cut up small pieces of parchment paper to insert between each frozen cookie before storing them in the freezer bag. That helps facilitate pulling them apart when preparing to bake them. And the parchment pieces can be stored in the empty freezer bag (I just put it back into the freezer) to be used for the next batch of cookies.

Along with organization,

By Carol Singer

Along with organization, consider this tip. I put newspaper under the wire cooling racks. It keeps things more tidy, and you can throw out the paper when you are done.

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