I’ve got cookies very much on the brain (and… I’ll admit it… platter) today. I pretty much give Cookie Monster a run for his
money crumbs year-round, but during Christmas season, there’s absolutely no stopping me… to even try would be futile!
Last night I made some extraordinary cookies (the recipe is below) that are disappearing faster than New Year’s Resolutions.
While there’s nothing quite as Heavenly as a great cookie, few things are as heinous as a bad cookie. Below are a few cookie baking tips that’ll keep you out of the heinous zone. Take it from the cookie fiend on this side of these words, these tips will see you through. Just be ready to hit the treadmill. Often.
Cookie Baking Tips:
- You absolutely must have a great pan. I love the AirBake Ultra by T-Fal Insulated Nonstick 16 x 14-Inch Cookie Sheet like it’s family. If your cookie sheets aren’t shiny and new – and you aren’t ready to replace them – use foil. It makes a big difference.
- Roll and pat your cookie dough on powdered sugar rather than flour. I picked this tip up from an episode of Good Eats with Alton Brown. It was one of his wonderful Christmas specials and, naturally, Alton’s right. Powdered sugar produces better cookies. It makes sense, right? There’s already enough flour in the dough, using more in the rolling process isn’t such a great idea.
- Use hard plastic cookie cutters (like the ones spotlighted at the end of this post – they’re outstanding!). If, like me, you already have metal cookie cutters, save them for keepsakes! From now on, however, buy plastic rather than metal – the metal cookie cutters bend and rust. The well-made hard plastic ones refuse to do either.
- If a recipe calls for butter – don’t even think about using margarine. There’s a huge, huge difference between the two – especially when it comes to baking.
- When baking cookies, don’t wander around the house, watch tv, or do laundry. Stay close by and keep a very watchful eye on the cookies. You’ll notice that, very often, each batch requires a different amount of cooking time. That’s why the last batch of cookies are often overdone. By then the oven’s super hot and just itching to burn little Christmas trees and snowmen!
- If a dough needs to be chilled before handling, work with only a small amount of dough at a time and keep the rest chilled so it’ll be firm when you’re ready to work with it.
- Store cookies in tightly covered containers to protect them from air and humidity – these tend to make them stale and robs them of their wonderful flavor.
- Very important! Store moist and crisp cookies separately. The moist cookies will make softies out of the crisp cookies and, frankly, cookies that are supposed to be crisp but have been softened are kind of icky.
- For long-term storage, most cookies can be frozen in freezer containers or plastic bags for up to 12 months. Before serving, thaw them in the container or plastic.
- If you want to firm up cookie dough that you’ll be rolling with a rolling pin, chill the dough in the refrigerator. Divide the cookie dough into halves for faster chilling. Form each half into a flat loaf and wrap in clear plastic. Roll and cut out only one at a time, while the other continues to chill. If you really want to hasten things, chill the dough in the freezer for about 20 minutes. If the dough becomes to stiff (I’d be stiff after 20 minutes in a freezer too), let it sit on the counter and warm up for a while.
- Another great tip from the Good Eats episode I mentioned earlier: You want to roll the dough out only once. In other words, you don’t want to cut, gather scraps, roll out, re-cut, etc. So, roll the dough out, place your cookie cutters strategically and THEN cut the dough. Also, Alton and Santa (yes, Santa) moved the entire cookie cutter with the dough to the cookie sheet before lifting the cutter. A firm, very flat spatula will do the trick.
- If you’re pressed for time and aren’t as crazy wild about baking as some of us kitchen elves are, you might want to go with bar cookies. Bar cookies are almost always fast and easy – without extra curricular activities like rolling, cutting, dusting, and decorating. Also, bar cookies can often be transported and served right in the pan they were made in.
A Favorite Cookie Recipe
2-1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 cup NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels
1 cup NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® White Morsels
1-1/2 cups coarsely chopped pecans
Preheat the oven to 375° F.
Combine flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels and nuts. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.
Bake for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.
Keep an eye on these cookies as they bake because they’re at their absolute best when they’re soft. These are incredibly flavorful and will be a huge hit. Nestle Toll House morsels can’t be beaten. The recipe above is basically the one that’s on the back of Nestle Semi-Sweet Morsels – I simply use 1/2 of the semi-sweet morsels and 1/2 white chips. I also add more pecans, but I’m a nut for nuts so what do you expect?!?!
Progressive International Cookie Cutter and Stencil Set Features:
- 24 piece set: 12 cookie cutters and 12 attachable stencils
- Makes decorating cookies easy and fun
- Clear stencils allow for ease of use
- Holiday and basic shapes for year round decorating
- Safe to use in the dishwasher