I’m an exploratory cook/baker. I learn from experience. and discovery. I’ve said before, and I’ll say it again, my mother did not particularly enjoy cooking or baking. Her strategy for baking cookies was to dump everything in the mixer and turn it on full speed. If they didn’t bake quick enough she’d turn the heat up. The results? Very interesting, often disastrous.
I was sitting at lunch the other day at work. Someone had left cookies there for staff. They were very tasty but I commented on them, constructively of course, and someone said, “I didn’t know about that.”
Of course, as a teacher, I never miss a teachable moment. Here, right here in the middle of the holiday baking season, I got to share what I have learned about cookie baking! Wahoo.
1. First of all, read through all the instructions first. You might not know this, but some people leave steps out and some recipes have quirky directions. Prepare yourself. I have a complex chocolate chip cookie recipe that has ingredients like 2 cups minus 2 Tablespoons of bread flour? Really? That precise? Yes, and may I add well worth it. Grown men have wept over these cookies.
2. Use unsalted, room temperature butter and beat the heck out of it until is is pale yellow, light and fluffy. Totally worth the extra time.
3. After the butter is sufficiently beaten, don’t over beat from this point on–incorporate till mixed and stop.
4. Obviously preheating the oven is essential. When the oven is preheating and temperature is higher to heat the oven up.
5. Never discount the importance of a cool pan and once the cookies are on the cookie sheet — CHILL the dough! Fridge, freezer, out on the back porch in the winter — wherever, just CHILL the dough. The results? Cookies with a beautiful shape and lift. Not flat, greasy cookies that have spread all over the cookies sheet.
6. Leave the cookies on the cookie sheet for a few minutes to cool so they will come off the pan nicely and retain their shape. When cooled a bit place them on baking rakes to avoid a greasy overcooked cookie bottom.
7. So when you go to round two of cookies, always make sure the baking sheet is completely cooled.
Trust me, everyone has had cookie failures. I have a confession to make. Last weekend I threw two batches of dough out. I finally figures out that there was an error in the recipe. Oops. By the way, another good reason to read through the entire recipe first!
Happy Holiday Cookie Baking — G