Tips for Baking Cookies
We bake thousands of cookies every year for our Christmas Cookie Extravaganza. These extravaganza’s take countless hours in preparation, food buying, and baking, let alone sealing the cookies in bags, packing them in cookie containers and then shipping them out to friends and family all across the country. My husband has always helped me bake the cookies and I usually assign him the more labor intensive cookies. He doesn’t mind. 🙂 Through the years we’ve discovered a few tips that may help you with your holiday baking or anytime you want to make cookies. I hope some of these tips will prove helpful to you.
Chewy Chunky Brownies are great for holiday baking. Everyone enjoys brownies and these are spectacular.
A) Always use unbleached flour as bleached flour makes cookies tough.
B) Never over-mix dough – unless the recipe says specifically to use the mixer after adding the flour and other dry ingredients don’t ever use the mixer at this stage. Simply stir in dry ingredients until moistened, so the cookies won’t be tough.
This recipe for Potato Chip Cookies had too much butter and sugar in contrast with the flour and spread out way too much.
C) You cannot substitute butter for recipes that require shortening as the cookies will flatten out and spread out all over the pan – even dripping into your oven! Rather, use half butter or add butter extract. You can substitute butter in a bar that is going to be spread in a pan.
Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies are amazing, but the racks need to be rotated so some cookies don’t turn out darker than others.
Here’s a picture of Coconut Chocolate Chip Cookies baked perfectly!
D) Check your oven temperature! Not all ovens cook the same or evenly. When you have 3-4 racks cooking at a time the recipe may take longer to cook than when cooking only 1 or 2. Watch your time carefully and be sure to rotate your pans regularly so they don’t stay in one place the entire cooking time. (Otherwise some get overly brown in some spots and not cooked in others).
E) Unless you want your hard efforts to turn out smoky black and overcooked get used to your oven and purchase a baking thermometer that installs in your oven so you know if your oven cooks fast or slow (too hot or too cold).
F) Putting a small piece of bread or apple in the container you store cookies in will help keep them fresh so they don’t get hard or stale too quickly.
G) Melted butter is not the same as softened butter in recipes. It completely changes the texture and many times cookies will not set up properly and flatten too much. Soften butter by setting at room temperature about an hour before using.
H) Cookies will freeze well for a few months if you prefer doling them out one at a time instead of consuming them in one sitting!
I) Cookies will burn on the bottoms of pans that are black. It is also best to use aluminum pans rather than ones with a Teflon finish.
K) When making bars if you have a crust layer that seems sticky, simply sprinkle a little flour over the dough and pat with hands into pan.
I’ve made Paula Deen’s Ultimate Chocolate Chip Toffee Cookies as either cookies or bars (here). Sometimes I sprinkle a little bit of flour over the sticky cookie dough and then I just pat the dough into the pan with my hands. A fork dipped in water can also work. Usually, if the dough is too sticky it flattens out too much so I put that type of dough into pans and make into bars instead. (Or I add more flour to the dough to help them to drop or roll out easier).
L) I rarely use margarine in recipes (it’s a fake food and hydrogenation of oils is killing us!) instead I use unsalted butter for better flavor and texture.
So if you want your Chocolate Chip Cookies and brownies to turn out like this consider following the above tips so you can prevent baking blunders and disasters!