Holiday baking season is upon us. Homemade cookies, cakes, and candies are traditional treats at Christmas. With a few tips and tricks, your next batch of cookies can be tastier than ever.
If a cookie dough is particularly sticky, wet or greasy, chill the cookie dough before baking. Reducing the temperature to around 40 degrees will avoid the greasy puddle cookies that occur with overspreading. The baked treats will be thicker, sturdier and denser. Chilling will not only prevent spreading; the cookie will taste better when cooked.
Even if the dough is not sticky or greasy cooling dough at least overnight and letting it sit at room temperature at least 10 minutes before baking, will enhance the flavor. The flavor will be richer as the aromas mingle while chilling.
To prevent excessive spreading use parchment paper on the cookie sheet. The paper will keep the cookies from spreading too much, keep the cookie sheet clean and promote even browning.
Never place cookie dough on to a hot baking sheet. Using parchment paper helps to keep the dough cool before baking.
Overbeating the ingredients and whipping too much air into the dough will cause the cookies to collapse during baking. Don’t overmix the cookie dough ingredients.
Most home ovens are inaccurate. Cookies are very sensitive to temperature. Purchase an oven thermometer to assure the correct temperature. Over-browning, excess spread and uneven baking can be eliminated by baking at the proper temp.
One hour before baking place eggs and butter on the counter before baking. Rock hard butter cannot be whipped and creamed with the sugars. And butter that is even slightly melted cannot be creamed. Room temperature eggs, especially the egg whites, give more volume to the batter at room temperature.
The approximate cooking times of cookies are not always accurate. The size of the cookie, the temperature of the oven and dough itself determines the cooking time. Let the cookies tell you when to be removed from the oven. The cookies are done when the edges are set and lightly browned.
Ovens often have hot spots. Pay attention to which side of the baking pan gets brown first. Rotate the cookie sheets during the baking time. Move them from the top shelf to the bottom shelf if necessary. The key to a perfect cookie is the careful eye and attention to the cooking time and temperature.
The center of the cookie can look slightly under-baked if you want a softer cookie. Longer baking times will produce a crispier cookie. Remember that cookies centers continue cooking for a few minutes after removing from the oven.
Baking is a lesson in food chemistry. A combination of leavening agents, temperature, size, and ingredients determine the desired cookie.
Even a frozen dough or boxed cookie dough requires careful attention to produce the perfect cookie. Measure accurately and let the cookie determine when it is ready to be removed from the oven.
Bobbie Randall is a registered, licensed dietitian, certified diabetes educator in Wooster, Ohio. Contact her at [email protected]