Monday, December 22, 2008

My secrets to good cookies

I regularly get compliments on my holiday cookies. I have heard that there have been fights over who gets the last one. So, here are my tips. Totally stolen from other far better bakers.

1. Start with a good recipe. Yeah, Joy of Cooking has some good ones, so does Better Homes and Gardens. However, the best come out of church anthology cookbooks. Or in my case, Red Wing Shoe 100th Anniversary cookbook. The one I use has no instructions, just ingredients.

2. Get a little geeky. Knowing the science of baking helps. What makes things chewy, what makes them crunchy (oil/shortening vs. butter not telling which is which). Best resource is Alton Brown's I'm Just Here For More Food.

3. This goes with being geeky, but don't skip out on the creaming. Creaming butter & sugar well makes for a very different and fluffier cookie.

4. Don't overmix.

5. Stand mixers make everything better. Give the baker you love one. I would loose my mind if I had to use a hand mixer.

6. Give it a rest. I saw a special about cookies (or maybe I listened to it on Splendid Table) but nearly every professional chef that adores cookies says the secret is to rest the dough. At least overnight, if not for days. It may be part of the reason that the stuff in a tube is sometimes better than what you do.

7. Stainless steal icecream scoops are the best. Perfect portions every time. Great for any type of drop or shape cookie.

8. For cutout, roll out the dough warm between two sheets of wax paper and put in the fridge on a cookie sheet. Chill (it happens quickly) then cut out. Easier than rolling out cold dough.

9. Only take on what you can. Seriously. My cookies are best the years I admit what I am capable of. If I try to take on too much, the cookies suck.

10. Don't forget the love. I'm convinced that anything I make turns out good because I care about it and the people it is for. If I half heartedly do it, it sucks.


Connie Weiss said...

These are great tips!

I discovered this year that freezing cookies for about a week works great and they still taste fresh! I was able to make a bunch of cookies before the madness started and just pop them out when the family arrived.

Angelica said...

Thanks for your wonderful tips for baking cookies perfectly.