Taking a plate of homemade cookies to work for a special occasion or packing children’s lunches with their favorite ginger crisps is a feeling of accomplishment. Whether from scratch or from a mix, cookie baking can be a way to express creativity, a way to unwind from the day and a way to save a little money.
For the novice, cookie baking can seem a little complicated or involved with the various ingredients a recipe calls for, but doing a little homework ahead of time, having the right tools and using them properly will mean success each and every time.
Tools needed include large mixing bowl, mixing spoons, measuring spoons, measuring cups for dry ingredients, measuring cups for liquid ingredients. Note: do NOT use dry measuring cups for liquids or vice versa. It will effect the taste and consistency of the cookies. Use thin metal spatulas for removing cookies from the cookie sheets after they’re finished baking, and wire racks for cooling. About the cookie sheets–better success comes with those without sides, or what are sometimes called jelly roll pans. Actual baking sheets with only the slightly angled lip on one side will produce better results. Cookies will bake evenly and they are less likely to burn.
Read through your recipe carefully. Assemble everything you’ll need. It’s better to realize the vanilla is gone now than when the oven is preheated and half the ingredients have already been mixed together. It saves time and frustration.
Butter is better. This is not the place to be cheap route. When it comes to cookies, taste is everything and they taste better with butter. If worried about the cost of butter, buy a lot of it when it’s on sale and freeze it.
Recipes calling for butter usually negates the need for cooking spray on the cookie sheets or best baking dish.
Whether mixing by hand with a spoon or if using an electric mixer, add the ingredients as outlined in the recipe, making sure all ingredients are incorporated well. Sometimes actually mixing the dough by hand is a great way to feel the texture of the cookies and to make sure all ingredients are incorporated equally.
These prepackaged mixes are great time savers and they’re super easy. The only ingredients to add…an egg and a stick of softened or melted butter. Kids can help with this part. There’s several varieties–chocolate chip, rainbow chocolate chip, oatmeal, peanut butter and sugar cookies.
Make the mounds of cookie dough uniform in size. Don’t start out with walnut-sized spoonfuls and end up with boulders later. Uniform size means uniform baking. Also remember to give the cookie dough room to expand, especially if the recipe calls for baking powder.
Ovens are different. Let’s say the recipe says to bake the cookies for 8-10 minutes. Set the timer for 10 minutes. Check on them through the window without opening the oven door. How do they look? Are they starting to get brown? If 10 minutes seems too long, back off a minute or two. When you take the cookies out of the oven, let them sit on the cookie sheet for a couple minutes. Believe it or not, they’re still baking at this point. Using a thinner metal spatula makes transferring the cookies to a wire rack to cool easier and they’re less likely to fall apart.
Now comes the good part, enjoying the baking results…and they have to be sampled, just to be sure they’re worthy of the rest of the family.
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