If you’re already stressed about baking holiday cookies, then follow these tips to avoid common cookie failures!
First-rate cookies start with fresh, quality ingredients, which should be brought to room temperature, unless indicated otherwise in the recipe. Check for expiration dates on ingredients like eggs, baking powder, and baking soda.
Don’t measure liquid and dry ingredients with the same tools. Measure liquid ingredients, such as water, milk, and oils, with a glass or plastic liquid measuring cup. The cup has measurements marked on the side so you can read the measurement at eye level. Flour, sugar, and other dry ingredients should be spooned into dry measuring cups and then leveled off with a knife or spatula. Brown sugar should be packed into the spoon and leveled off.
Refrigerate your dough for 15-30 minutes to make it easier to handle. Then divide the dough and work with only half at a time—this is especially true for cut-out cookies to prevent the dough from sticking to the rolling pin. Once rolled, remove the top sheet and cut out the shapes. When using plastic cookie cutters, dip them in warm vegetable oil while you are working to get a cleaner, more defined edge on the patterns.
Use cookie sheets that are at room temperature to prevent cookie dough from melting when placed on the sheet. To prevent cookies from sticking to the sheet:
- Grease them with vegetable shortening or unsalted butter,
- Line them with aluminum foil or parchment paper, or
- Use reusable silicone baking mats as liners.
Flouring a cookie sheet after it is greased prevents the cookie dough from spreading out too much during baking and prevents chocolate chips from burning on the cookie sheet. Bake one pan of cookies at a time in the center of a pre-heated oven. Remove cookies from cookie sheet shortly after removing from oven so they do not continue baking, and place on cooling rack.
Cool cookies completely before storing in an airtight container. To keep cookies soft, add a slice of bread to the container. For longer storage, freeze baked cookies in airtight freezer containers.
Cookie dough can also be frozen as either a batch or individual cookies. To prevent odors from seeping in, store the batch by wrapping it twice in freezer-safe material. To store individual cookies, scoop out dough onto a cookie sheet and freeze the tray. Once frozen, place the cookie drops in a freezer bag. Label the bag with the cookie dough, date, baking time and temperature. Cookie dough can be stored in a freezer for up to 3 months. Defrost the dough in the refrigerator for several hours before baking. To bake frozen, individual cookies, add an additional minute to the original recipe instructions.