Baking cookies has never been one of my hobbies per say, that is until lately. Over the last several weeks I have really been busy baking in the kitchen. Although not unusual considering how many desserts he can go through, I have been stepping outside the ole comfort zone and trying my hand at some new recipes. Once I have done a bit more testing, I’ll reveal my thoughts on my new cookbooks I have been breaking in. So far, LOVING them!
But during this time, I have come to realize a few things. So here I am drafting a handy list to help me and you.
6 Tips for Baking Cookies Like a Pro
- Pretend you have a cooking show.
Think back to the last cooking show you watched. (Mine being Alton Brown’s Good Eats, of course.) Ok, now remember how they have all of the ingredients already portioned out and ready to be used, well that’s what you should do at home. No I’m not trying to increase the number of dishes you have to eventually wash. Shoot, I use paper plates and bowls. But my point is by doing this, you’ll not only have everything ready to go, but through this exercise you’ll be reading over the recipe more thoroughly. Which leads me to..
- When it calls for butter at room temperature, it means butter at room temperature.
Whether it be butter, milk, eggs, etc., when a recipe calls for something to be in a certain state, it’s for a reason. By getting your ingredients together beforehand as mentioned above, you’ll notice these details prior to starting the process. When I skim over an ingredient list, I look for the usual suspects. Then I go to the fridge, pull out the butter or what have you that requires extra attention. I deal with that first, then prep the rest.
If you’re in a pinch and don’t have time to let your butter come to room temperature on its own, there are a number of things you can do:
(1) Place stick of butter in microwave with wrapper on. Heat for 5 seconds. Flip the stick over on its side. Heat for another 5 seconds. Repeat on remaining two long sides. Once completed your butter should be ready to go, but if not continue process. (Found tip on My Baking Addiction)
(2) Heat warm water in glass bowl (I’ve used a Pyrex measuring cup). Remove the water, and invert cup over stick of butter. Shortly, you’ll have softened butter. (Found tip on Wonder How To)
(3) Place stick of butter in plastic bag. Whack the butter with a rolling pin or mallet. It should only take a minute or two to amply soften butter. (Tip also on Wonder How To)
- Don’t beat sugar and butter at high-speed.
Usually one of the first steps to baking cookies, is to combine sugars and butter in a stand mixer. Out of habit, I noticed myself switching my stand mixer to high and watching the mixture become light and fluffy. But after reading through a cookbook dedicated to cookies, it points out that technique isn’t ideal for cookies. After all, we’re baking cookies not cakes. So keep your mixer on low-medium speed for a few minutes to make sure mix is thoroughly combined.
- Don’t skip the chill.
It seems I’m always short on time these days. However, chilling the dough, is not a step you should cut corners on. At minimum I chill dough for an hour, but ideally overnight. Not only does this heighten the flavor of the cookie, but also the texture. Next time you bake, try this and see if you notice a difference.
- Cookie scoops are more than handy.
Several years ago, I picked up this cookie scoop at HEB. I originally used it to make sausage balls for a party, but then realized I needed to start using this ASAP for cookies. The one I had bought was a 1 Tablespoon scoop. Small for cookie baking but handy nonetheless. Then sometime later, I bought a 1 1/2 Tablespoon scoop from Pampered Chef, but here is another I like that you can find on Amazon. Finally, last year, I purchased one slightly larger for the days when you don’t want to be stuck baking too long and/or you really want a cookie that fits big in your hand!
- Use parchment paper or silicone mats.
Because I’m hardheaded, I refused to use either for the longest time. My thinking was, baking directly on pans has worked for my granny and aunts so why not me. And true, without does work for them, but my skills aren’t as seasoned as them. I’ve noticed that my cookies seem to bake more evenly and look uniform.
But let’s be real, I like to use parchment because it drastically cuts down on cleanup. Once I’m done with baking, I either simply throw away the parchment or run water and a wash cloth over the mats.
These aren’t all of the tips or tricks when it comes to baking or the kitchen for that matter, but hey I’ve got to hold some back for future posts, right?!?
Speaking of baking cookies, have you had a chance to check out the recent recipe I posted for Snickerdoodle Cookies?
What are your favorite kinds of cookies to make? I have a new cookbook called Dorie’s Cookies by Dorie Greenspan, I have been loving so far. Two recipes made and both are definitely Elliott- and coworker-approved.
Lately I have come into some quite good luck when it comes to cookbooks. I’ll be sharing with you in the next month or so my absolute favorite at the moment. But a little more testing needs to be done before I get that to you. Do you have a cookbook to recommend to me?
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