We’ve made a lot of cookies this year and each one has taught us something about baking. Our 20 cookie baking tips will help you in your culinary endeavors in 2016. As the holiday cookie-baking season draws to a close, we realize there are still so many recipes to tackle. That’s our New Year’s resolution: Make more cookies!
Today, we look back on some of the tips that saw us through batches of S’mores Chocolate Chip Cookies, Brownie-Bottom Coconut Bars, and Lemon Bars. Some of them are lifesavers, others are just common sense. (Like reading a recipe twice before jumping in.)
20 Cookie Baking Tips from the Cookie Jar:
- Ice cream scoops are perfect for measuring drop cookies uniformly. Look for a version that measures 1 tablespoon.
- Use parchment paper to line cookie sheets. It facilitates even baking, prevents sticking and makes cleanup a snap.
- Cool cookies on wire racks rather than on the baking sheets or plates. Cookies cooled on solid surfaces get mushy on the bottom, and those left to cool on hot baking sheets lose moisture.
- Invest in an offset spatula, which makes it easier to remove cookies from sheet.
- Have two sets of measuring cups and spoons so that you don’t have to keep washing and drying.
- Use unsalted butter, and if a recipe calls for margarine, make sure it’s in stick form rather than from a tub. Do not use margarine that’s less than 60 percent fat; it has more water in it and can cause excess spreading.
- To keep cookies from spreading too much, use butter that’s just soft enough to cream with sugar, but not so warm that it melts the moment it gets in the oven. Butter is ready when it yields to slight pressure, and depending on the temperature of your house, this could take an hour sitting on the counter.
- Use large eggs in cookie recipes unless another size is specified.
- Eggs should be at room temperature. Cold eggs can cause melted chocolate to seize or softened butter to firm up unexpectedly, creating tough cookies. To bring eggs to room temperature, set them out on the counter while the oven is preheating.
- If the recipe calls for brown sugar but doesn’t specify dark or light, use light. Dark brown sugar has more molasses in it and that could alter the taste of your cookies.
- Read recipe twice before making your shopping list and preparing. Unless you are an experienced baker, don’t experiment unless you’ve made the recipe once.
- Cool cookie sheets between batches; better yet, buy two or three sheets. Don’t grease the cookie sheet unless the recipe calls for it, or cookies may spread and brown too quickly around the edges.
- Chilling the dough before baking and using parchment paper reduce spread in the oven.
- Lightly oil the cup before measuring syrup, honey and other sticky ingredients and the ingredient will pour out without sticking.
- Space cookies evenly on cookie sheet and usually 2 inches apart. This keeps them from spreading and running into each other.
- Most recipes give a range for the cooking time. Usually, the lower time will yield softer cookies, the longer time, crisper. Still, know your oven.
- To chill dough quickly, divide it into smaller portions and shape into discs.
- In recipes that call for multiple eggs, add one at a time. This allows them to emulsify correctly with the fat.
- Fold in chocolate chips or nuts by hand. This prevents overmixing which can lead to tough cookies.