By CHEF 420
Cookies make everything better.
Cookies are so much more than flour and sugar, they are little bites of comfort and love. Nothing is more disappointing though than laboring over this love, only to have the cookies burn or morph into one enormously thin, hard cookie blob, instead of the dozen carefully spooned out cookies planned on.
Maybe that's a little dramatic, but still no one wants to put the time and energy into making home-made cookies just to turn around and toss them in the garbage. What a waste of ingredients and effort. Because cookie misfortunes happen to even the most seasoned bakers, I compiled a list of cookie baking tips to help all bakers make perfect "grandma standard" cookies every time.
#1. Thick/Light colored Baking Pans: Choose a pan that is thick because the thicker the pan the less likely the bottoms of the cookies are to get burned. whether you use margarine or the length the dough is chilled won't matter if you don't have the right type of pan to bake the cookies on. Baking with the right pan could mean the difference between cookie success or cookie disaster. Light-colored and shiny cookie pans are optimal because they brown the cookies more evenly than dark pans.Dark pans absorb a lot of heat and often times cook the cookies too fast, burning the bottom side. They also sometimes burn the edges by cooking the outer edge too fast and not cooking the middle fully.
#2. Mixing: The sugar actually draws moisture from the other ingredients, minimizing the gluten development, therefore, how the cookie dough is mixed will influence the texture of the cookie.
**For more cake-like cookie texture:
Mix the shortening, eggs, sugar, and liquid together first.
Then, gently fold in the the flour and leavening agent.
**For a more dense cookie:
Mix all the ingredients together slowly, so the starch only gelatinizes ever so slightly.
#3. Scooping: The best looking home-made cookies need to be the same size. They will cook evenly and look nice displayed on the cookie plater or container when they are uniform in size. The easiest method is with an ice cream scoop or a cookie scooper. Some really smart inventor came up with the idea of making a spring loaded ice cream scoop smaller and perfectly sized for cookie dough. This kitchen upgrade isn't necessary, but sure makes life easier. Well...cookie making life at any rate. Periodically dip the scoop into the water to keep the dough from sticking to the scoop and to aide in the dough releasing onto the baking sheet with ease.
#4. A Little Elbow Room: Cookies spread out in the oven. If the dough is not given enough room to expand, the cookies will wind up touching each other. watch how you line the cookies up on the baking sheet. No, you won't cook as many cookies at one time, but what you do bake will have space to spread out, bake right, and get purrrrty. Slow and steady wins this race and the wait will be worth all the effort. The reward will yield not only delicious cookies, but nice looking batches that turn heads too.
#5. Moist, Not Dry: What a disappointment biting into a dry and crumbly cookie is. The calories can't be justified or enjoyed.Over baking will dry out your cookies, so one suggestion is to take the cookies out of the oven a few minutes early. Allow the cookies to sit on the hot pan for the remainder of the baking time while the pan cools off. Then, remove them from the pan and let the cookies cool off on the cooling rack.Another idea for moist and soft cookies success is addition. Add a teaspoon of either your favorite jelly or sour cream to the dough. The jelly or sour cream acts as a softening agent to keep the cookies moist, and you won't taste their presence in the cookies one bit. If the dough you are working with seems crumbly and difficult to keep together, make sure the dough is at room temperature. Keep the dough at room temperature for 30 minutes before handling. While you wait for the dough to reach the desired temp, cover the dough with a lightly dampened kitchen towel.
#6. Soft Science: For soft cookie batches, follow these helpful techniques...
Instead of granulated sugar, use honey. Honey is highly compatible to moisture. Honey will lend a helping hand in keeping your cookies soft.
Bake the cookies at a consistent temperature of 375 degrees.
Remove the cookies a few minutes before the requested time the recipe calls for.
#7. Nice & Crispy: My personal favorite cookie texture is soft, but not everyone wants soft and chewy. Even if you are in the soft cookie camp with me, you still may have family of friends who enjoy a little crisp to their cookie. So as to not to leave anyone out, we have tips for crisp cookie lovers too.
If crispy cookies are your end game, then sugar needs attention. The higher the amount of sugar, the crispier the sugar will come out. Sugar slows down the cookies ability to set up. In other words, cookies with more sugar will spread, and spread faster.Sugar also holds moisture, keeping the moisture from steaming. Steam makes the cookies soft. Naturally, less steam will mean less soft and more crisp cookies.Oven temperatures also need monitoring. Bake the batches at 350 degrees over a slow period of time until the cookies are lightly browned. The slow process at the temperature specified will allow the cookies to dry as they bake. The result will yield nice, crispy cookies.
#8. Storage: Although a cute cookie jar with a sealable lid is a nice addition to any kitchen counter top, it isn't mandatory for proper cookie storage. A plastic bag or container works just as well as the glass or ceramic jars. Just be sure the bags seal tightly. Try to remove as much air as possible before sealing so the cookies stay fresh longer.Before storing cookies away, make sure they are completely cooled. To cool the cookies, place them on a cookie rack that is at least 6 inches off the counter. If your rack is too close to the counter, steam will build up creating condensation on the bottoms of the cookies. Wet bottoms mean soggy cookie bottoms. allow the cookies to cool completely before storing them away, or the steam from the warm cookies will create condensation on the bag. All the extra moisture will make soggy cookies or create a great environment for mold to grow.
Once the cookies have been properly stored and sealed they will stay fresh at room temperature for about 2-3 days, if they are soft, and 2-3 weeks if they are hard. Cookie dough can be frozen in the freezer in an air tight freezer bag or container for 10-12 months. Baked cookies will last in the freezer for 2-3 months.