One of life's simple pleasures is enjoying
the delightful taste of a home-baked cookie still warm from the
oven. Here are a few tips to consider when baking your favorite
cookie, whether it be a sparkling sugar cookie cut into whimsical
figures, a chewy-gooey chocolate chip cookie, or an oatmeal cookie
studded with raisins and nuts.
My Chocolate Chip Cookies
First, always preheat your oven
and position oven racks (normally the top shelves, unless otherwise
instructed) 10 to 15 minutes before you need to bake. To be sure
of your oven's temperature accuracy, try keeping an oven thermometer
in the oven at all times and make adjustments for the temperature
Butter should always be used
at room temperature or slightly. Cold, hard butter will not cream
as easily when you incorporate it with the sugar resulting in
flat, so-so cookies.
Always use large eggs, ground
spices, and all-purpose flour, unless otherwise indicated.
If a recipe calls for light or
dark brown sugar be sure you firmly pack it into the measuring
cup for an accurate measurement.
When using nuts, be sure to toast
them before adding them to the batter for maximum flavor. (Also
taste them before using to make sure they haven't gone rancid.)
Don't use imitation vanilla extract--use
the real stuff--it does make a difference.
Use only real chocolate. Those
chocolate-flavored morsels are cheaper, and that's exactly what
they taste like.
When adding dried fruit like
raisins or currants to the dough make sure they are soft, not
hard and shriveled. To reconstitute hard, dried fruit pour boiling
water over them, let sit 4 to 5 minutes then strain. Proceed
as recipe directs.
Keep the cookie size consistent.
Measure the batter out carefully so all the cookies will be the
same size and thus they'll all bake at the same speed.
Halfway through baking remember
to reverse the top and bottom sheets and also rotate each cookie
sheet from front to back.
If the recipe specifies, for
example baking cookies 10 to 12 minutes, check them at 10 minutes,
but to be on the safe side, take a peak after 8 or 9 minutes
of cooking. Prefer soft and chewy cookies? Then just under bake
them a bit and allow to cool several minutes on baking sheets
before transferring to a cooling rack.
Only bake one or two cookie sheets
at a time. And if you're making several batches of cookies make
sure you cool the cookie sheet completely before using it again
or your batter is apt to melt and run off the pan.
Shiny, light colored cookie sheets
do a better job of evenly browning the bottoms of cookies than
dark sheets do. Shiny silver sheets heat much more evenly, and
if sticking is a concern use parchment baking paper for the best
results. The paper also keeps the bottom of the cookies from
over-browning. Parchment paper can be reused several times, both
front and back.
And last, but not least, store
completely cooled cookies in an airtight container at room temperature.