You’ve got the baking bug and the perfect cookie recipe, but now what? Do your cookies always ooze together as they cook, resulting in a giant cookie blob? Do they come out too crunchy? Do you wrestle with your rolling pin and too-sticky dough for cut cookies? What about the ones that just … taste funny? This post should help you get past these cookie glitches.
First thing’s first: Preheat the oven
- Do it. Ten to 15 minutes before the cookies go into the oven, you need to turn it on. If you put your dough into a non-preheated oven, they will heat slowly, which means they’ll likely melt into the giant cookie-blob from the Black Lagoon! It’s very rare for a cookie recipe NOT to require a preheated oven.
Ingredients and Measuring
- In general, use the ingredients your recipe calls for. If you use margarine instead of butter, you might find that the cookies turn out thinner than the butter version. If you use all-purpose flour instead of cake flour, you’ll find that your cookies are denser and flatter. Using sugar substitutes instead of the real thing can also change cookie texture. This isn’t to say that you can’t experiment, but if you need perfect cookies now, it’s best to stick to the recipe.
- Make sure your ingredients are high quality and fresh.
- Baking soda and baking powder are different. Double-check to make sure you’re using the ingredient your recipe calls for!
- Measure your ingredients properly, whether by weight or by volume. Baking is a science; chemical reactions are occurring as you mix and bake the ingredients, so correct ratios are key!
Rolled and Cut Cookies galore
- Avoid using too much flour when rolling your cookies. This will make the cookies tough! If the dough is too sticky, throw it into the refrigerator for a few minutes to chill it, then try again.
- Try not to overwork the dough. This will also make the cookies tough.
- Roll the dough between two sheets of waxed paper or parchment paper. If you’re working in batches, keep the other dough in the fridge while you’re rolling. If you need to roll the dough ahead of time, you can stack sheets of rolled chilled dough (still in the parchment paper) in the fridge on a cookie sheet!
- Use good-quality metal cookie cutters. They should be thin and sharp. If you need to use plastic, try dipping the cutter in warm vegetable oil between cuts to make an easier, cleaner cut.
Drop cookies aplenty
- If you need your cookies to be a consistent size (to make ice cream sandwiches, for example), use a measuring spoon, ice cream scoop or a cookie scoop. If not, you can just scoop some dough into a spoon and then scrape it out with the back of another spoon. This is sometimes referred to as the “two spoon method.”
- Dust your baking pan with a light layer of flour before dropping your dough. This will keep the cookies from spreading as much as they bake.
- Make sure your dough is chilled when you drop it. This also combats cookie-spreading and tough cookies. Also, make sure your cookie sheet is room temperature or cooler. This means you may need to rinse and chill it between batches!
- There are many good reasons to let the cookies cool before doing anything else with them, but the main one is to prevent burning your mouth on the first bite!
- Cool cookies on wire racks so that the heat can escape from the top and the bottom.
- If you try to pile cookies on a plate or in a cookie jar before they’re cooled, they’ll stick together and you’ll never forgive yourself.
- Cool your cookies completely before decorating them. This way, the icing, sprinkles, or other pretties won’t melt and run.
- Try these cereal cookies for a change of pace and an interesting texture. They are pictured above with the cherry on top!
- Macheesmo has a wonderful photo-tutorial on Chocolate Thumbprint Cookies.
- The Pioneer Woman shares her husband’s favorite cookies, oatmeal crisps, and four other fabulous cookie recipes on her website.
- Joyful Abode features the world’s best shortbread recipe along with tips for dressing it up. Or try Curious George cookies, full of bananas, oatmeal, and chocolate chips.
- Michael at Cooking for Engineers lays down the science behind peanut butter cookies.
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