Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Kara's Cookie Tips

1. Use unsalted butter. Salted butter varies from brand to brand as to how much salt is actually in one stick. It can range anywhere from 1/4 of a teaspoon to 1/2 a teaspoon. But the use of butter and not margarine is very important. Butter in baking makes for a much more well-rounded, well butter flavor. It's important. Trust me on this.
2. Another butter tip. Soften your butter at room temperature for a couple of hours at minimum. It's also important to bring your eggs to room temperature because if they are too cold, they will not cream properly.
3. Quality baking pans are important. I use my 2 ton Pampered Chef stoneware pans combined with parchment paper. As a result, my cookies never stick to the pan and are always baked evenly and rarely burn.
4. Always stir the last of your flour or your mix-ins (chocolate chips, dried fruits, nuts, etc.) in by hand. When using a stand mixer or a hand mixer, there is the tendency to over mix in hopes of getting the last of the flour stirred in.
5. For uniform cookies, use a cookie scoop. My personal favorite is the small Pampered Chef scoop, approximately one tablespoon in size. This should be in every baker's cookie arsenal.
6. Another cookie scoop tip. Pre-scoop your dough and chill them for 5-10 minutes prior to baking. They won't spread as much and will come out much more even. And if your scooped dough has some pointy bits, you can push them in to make them even more round and perfect.
7. I think this one is generally a given, but let your cookies rest for 3 minutes or so after you take them out of the oven. You'll smash them if you try and remove them too soon.
8. Also another given, but worth mentioning: rotate your cookies halfway through baking. Most ovens cook hottest towards the back, so I always rotate top to bottom and side to side.
9. Good gravy, use a timer. There's nothing worse than going to all the trouble of mixing up dough only to burn it.
10. I heard this on Rachael Ray the other day, but there are stages to cookie making: mixing, resting, forming, resting and then baking. Essentially they advise that it is best to mix your dough up, form it into a mound, let everything rest for a little while, shape your cookies, chill the formed dough and then bake. I can't say that I do this for all cookies, but it is important for rolled cookies, such as sugar cookies, for the dough to be slightly chilled after you cut them out. It's also important to flour your cookie cutters in between use to prevent sticking.

10 tips for baking cookies. I didn't think that I had that many tips in me, but lo and behold, if you make enough cookies your start figuring out what works! I'm on like my 350 cookie in two weeks and I haven't even started making my Christmas cookies yet. I know, slightly overkill.

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