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Tried and True Kitchen Tested Recipes

Tips For Baking Great Cookies

1. Use either margarine or butter interchangeably unless a recipe specifically calls for one or the other. Butter and margarine give cookies their flavor and crisp outside texture. When a recipe calls for solid shortening, it will usually produce a cookie with a crunchy texture. Use of whipped butter or low calories butter can often ruin the recipe. Those spreads have added air and water in them and will change the consistency of the recipe. Most cookies call for softened butter for the best blending consistency. Let butter stand at room temperature for 30 to 45 minutes. Be careful not to let it soften too long as this can result in dough that is too soft.

2. Preheat the oven 10 to 15 minutes before you begin baking cookies. These is usually consistent unless a recipe specifically calls for you to start with a cold oven.

3. Accurately measure ingredients with standard measuring cups and spoons.

4. Take care not ot overmix or beat the dough to vigorously after adding the flour, or cookies will be tough.

Place dough to be baked on "cool" cookie sheets. Rotate cookie sheets and rinse and wipe clean between batches. During my cookie marathon, I would have four cookie sheets going at the same time. One with dough ready for the oven. One with cookies cooling for a few minutes. One in the sink and one rinsed, wiped clean and ready to load.

6. Use shiny aluminum pans for baking cookies. They brown evenly and lightly. Dark sheets tend to absorb the heat and will overbrown the bottoms of your cookies. If you use an insulated cookie sheet, remember since the bottom does not brown as fast, you may have a longer baking time.

7. Don't grease pans with butter or margarine. Use solid shortening. Butter tends to make cookies brown too fast and oils and sprays tend to cause sticking.

8. Make sure to leave room between cookies on the baking sheet. Usually a good rule of thumb is 2 inches between cookies. If they are extremely large cookies or the recipe calls for more space, adjust the space.

9. Use a baking sheet that is at least 2 inches smaller all-round than your oven. This will allow for the proper circulation of hot air. For that same reason, usually bake only one sheet of cookies at a time. If you use a confection oven, this is not an issue.

10. Cool cookies on wire racks. This will allow the steam to evaporate and will keep your cookies from becoming soggy.

11. Use a pancake turner to remove and move cookies from baking sheets. This will keep warm cookies from tearing or breaking.

12. Watch the baking time. Always check cookies at the minimum baking time. Even one minute can mean the difference between a cookie that is done and one that is ruined. Immediately remove from the baking sheet with a pancake turner unless the recipe calls for them to cool for a specified time on the cookie sheet.

13. Use an accurate timer. Try using the timer on your microwave or try the great little timer from Pampered Chef. They are both VERY accurate. Most of the department store kind are ok but not as accurate.

14. Cookies are done when they are firmly set or they are golden brown on the top or according to recipe directions. Chocolate cookies are a little harder to check. The first batch, you basically have to rely on the baking time noted. Some recipes will say that it will have a glossy sheen to them. Just take note of results from the first batch and adjust your time on the rest. Note the time on your recipe so that you have the best cooking time for your specific oven, the next time you bake the cookies.

15. Brownies and cake like bars are usually done when they pull away from the sides of the pan or when a tooth pick inserted in the center of the brownies comes out clean or when the center is set. Bars or brownies are harder to determine. Use the specified time on the recipe. Just remember that overbaking this type of bar cookies will produce dry and brittle brownies.

Bar Cookies Tips

1. Make sure that you use the size pan that the recipe calls for. Too big can cause dry bars and too small can cause underbaked bars.

2. Line pans with foil for super easy removal of bars.

3. Make sure to cool bars before trying to cut them unless the recipe calls for other instructions. Otherwise, you just end up with a crumbled mess.

Cut Out Cookies Tips

1. Roll out only one portion of the dough at a time to prevent dough from drying out. I like to keep the other portion is the refrigerator and chilled.

2. Dust the rolling pin and board surface with flour to keep dough from sticking. Just don't throw down a handful of flour though because it will cause your dough to dry out and become tough.

3. Make sure to roll the dough evenly and to the correct thickness. Uniform thickness will insure even baking and thinner cookies will be crisper and thicker cookies will be softer and chewier.

Drop Cookie Tips

1. Once again, make sure to leave room between cookies on the baking sheet. Usually a good rule of thumb is 2 inches between cookies. If they are extremely large cookies or the recipe calls for more space, adjust the space. This is especially important with drop cookies. Some tend to "spread" more than others.

2. Try to make cookies of the same size. Use a teaspoon or a tablespoon depending on the size the recipe calls for. If you desire, you may also use a cookie scoop. They look much like a mini ice cream scoop. Some even have release levers.

3. Drop the dough by pushing it from the teaspoon with a scraper, or another teaspoon.

Sliced Cookie Tips

1. Make sure to follow the recipe for the size of the rolls that the dough should be shaped into. Wrap the rolls of dough in waxed paper, foil or kitchen plastic wrap.

2. Make sure to use a thin, sharp knife when slicing the cookie dough.

3. Make sure the dough has been chilled enough before slicing. You can also usually keep dough for a week in the refrigerator. It can also be frozen for a longer period, if stored properly in a freezer safe zip lock container.

Shaped, Pressed and Molded Cookie Tips

1. Try to keep your hands lightly dusted with flour to keep the dough from sticking to your fingers and palms. Roll balls of dough between your palms. Try to make balls the same or uniform size.

2. When flattening cookies, use your thumb, a fork or the bottom of a glass. Dip them in flour or sugar to prevent sticking.

3. When using a cookie press, make sure the press rests on the cookie sheet . Then force the dough into the sheet until the dough appears at the edge of the mold. Then lift the press.

4. Use a COOL, ungreased cookie sheet when making pressed cookies.

5. If the dough is too soft when using a cookie press, refrigerate the dough or add a small amount (1 to 2 tablespoons) of flour. If it is too stiff, add 1 egg yolk.

6. Always use room temperature butter or margarine when making pressed cookies. (See #1 under Baking Tips for Great Cookies)

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