Baking cookies seems like the easiest thing in the world, until you open the oven and discover dark brown rocks instead of cookies. Baking is a science- even the slightest change in ingredients, cooking temperature or time can make or break your recipe. In order to insure that your cookies turn out perfect, follow these ten simple tips.
1. It may seem silly, but read the recipe all the way through BEFORE you stat mixing ingredients together. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve just started in, and suddenly realized that the recipe said to add ingredients in a certain order for a reason. Or, even worse, I’ve misread the measurements or instructions because I was distracted by mixing the dough. Take a few seconds to read over the recipe before you start to reduce the chance of messing up the measurements or instructions.
2. Turn your oven on to preheat before you being getting the ingredients together. Newer ovens make only take 14 minutes to preheat, but older ovens make take closer to 20 minutes or even more to heat to the proper level. I would suggest letting our oven heat for at least 15 minutes before putting the first batch of cookies in. This should allow enough time for the center of the oven to heat, thus allowing the cookies to bake evenly. To make sure your oven is at the proper heat level, use an oven thermometer.
3. When separating eggs, do not break them directly over the mixing bowl. Instead, have a small bowl handy and separate one egg at a time. This will prevent you from wasting more than one egg should the breaking or separating processes not go smoothly. If you break or separate the egg directly over the mixing bowl, you run the risk of shells or egg parts getting into the dough that shouldn’t be there. Yes, you’ll dirty one more little dish, but otherwise you may waste several eggs.
4. When beating egg whites, make sure to use clean bowls and beaters that are free from grease and oil. Try to use stainless steel, ceramic, or copper bowls and utensils, rather than plastic. Plastic tends to hold grease more than the other materials. Place the beaters and mixing bowl into the fridge for an hour or so before hand. This will cause the egg whites to stiffen faster.
5. If you are making rolled cookies, be sure to chill the dough for at least the minimum time specified in the recipe. Wrap the dough tightly in saran wrap to keep it from drying, and place it in the fridge. Do not remove the dough from the fridge until you are ready to begin rolling. This adds time to your cooking process, but chilled dough is easier to roll than unchilled dough. It’s pretty hard to roll room temperature dough; simply chill the dough and you’ll save yourself some frustration.
6. If you are baking one cookie sheet of cookies at a time, be sure to place the oven rack in the center position. Place the cookie sheet in the center of the rack. If baking more than one sheet at a time, keep in mind that the cookies closest to the heat source will brown faster. You may need to rotate the cookies sheets during cookie in order to prevent uneven or over browning.
7. Use a pastry bag or cookie press to make even, smooth drop cookies. This will help keep your cookies similar in size, shape, and texture. You can also use a melon baller or a special cookie drop scoop to make your cookie uniform in shape and size.
8. After baking your cookies, allow the cookie to cool on the cookie sheets for 30 or so seconds. Then use a wide spatula to carefully remove the cookie from the baking sheet and place them on cooling racks. Be sure not to place the cookies too close together or they will stick to each other. Allow cookies to cool completely before stacking them on each other.
9. Most cookies and cookie doughs can be stored in the freezer for up to 6 weeks. To store cookie dough, double wrap the dough in something like saran wrap and place in a zippered freezer bag. Cookies can be stored in an air tight container. Be sure to mark each container with what type of dough or cookies it contains and when they were made.
10. When cleaning your utensils and mixing bowls after you’ve made cookies, be sure to use warm water, rather than hot water, if your dough contained flour. Hot water will cause flour to clump and harden. This will only make your utensils harder to clean.
Baking cookies should be fun, but keep in mind these 10 simple tips to prevent hours of frustration when baking your favorite cookie recipes.