Follow the recipe directions carefully.
For rolled cookies, handle dough gently – To avoid a "tough" dough, add the smallest amount of flour possible to the rolling pin or counter when rolling, and don't roll more than necessary.
For sliced or cutout cookies – Be sure you chill the dough until it's firm enough to handle (about 2 hours) before slicing or cutting out. If you immediately bake dough that’s supposed to be chilled, it will spread.
Don’t melt butter or margarine if your recipe calls for softened butter or margarine. This may result in dough that spreads when it’s baked, and flat, thin cookies. Cut your butter into chunks and, at room temperature, it will soften in about 15 minutes. Creaming butter and sugar until it is light increases its spread. Blending butter and sugar reduces its spread.
- To eliminate the chance of making the dough or crust tough, you can roll out on a surface dusted with powdered sugar.
Adjusting Ingredients for Perfect Dough
Too much flour makes your cookies dry.
If your dough is dry and crumbly, add 1-2 tablespoons of additional recipe liquid such as water, milk, cream, or juice. You can add softened butter instead, but remember, you're also adding calories. Why did this happen? Improper mixing, mixing too long, too much sugar, too much leavening, or not enough egg. If you add too much liquid, your dough will be too soft.
If dough is too soft, stir 1 or 2 or more tablespoons of flour into the dough. Cookies may spread too much or be too crisp if the dough is too soft. This is especially true when you make drop cookies.
Picking a Cookie Sheet
Different cookie sheets give you different baking results.
Shiny aluminum or stainless steel cookie sheets result in delicate, evenly browned cookies.
Insulated cookie sheets give you cookies that may not brown as much on the bottom and may cause some cookie dough to spread.
Non-stick cookie sheets make cookies easy to remove but the dark finish may cause your cookies to brown more quickly. Many manufacturers suggest lowering the oven temperature by 25 degrees.
Dark aluminum sheets have an almost black finish that may absorb heat and cause the bottoms of your cookies to brown more quickly. You may have to lower the temperature and bake for a shorter time.
Grease your pans according to directions, but for moist cookies remember to use only a small amount of grease or non-stick spray on the pan. Parchment paper makes your cleanup quicker, and prevents cookies from sticking. Bake on heavily greased pans and your cookies spread more evenly.
Always start baking with your cookie sheets at room temperature. If your cookie sheet is warm, your dough may melt and spread out.
Drop spoonfuls of dough 2 inches apart so they don't run together. If they do anyway and it’s an all-butter dough, try 3 parts butter and 1 part shortening the next time. Use a small ice cream scoop to "drop" your cookies on the sheet so that the cookies bake evenly and in the same shape. High-liquid batter spreads more than stiff dough.
If your cookies are overly flat and thin and you followed all directions, begin your next batch with a cool baking sheet making sure that it’s not over-greased. Too much sugar can also increase spread. As a rule, Baker's Sugar and Powdered Sugar reduce spread; granulated sugar increases spread.
If you’re pressed for time, mix ingredients, refrigerate, and bake later when family or friends arrive. What’s more pleasing than the welcome aroma of fresh-baked cookies!
Let cookie sheets cool between batches. Use a clean cookie sheet, or gently wipe the crumbs off the used sheet with paper towels and lightly re-grease it.
For softer, chewier cookies, bake just until they begin to brown.
Increase spread with low oven temperature.
Decrease spread with high oven temperature.
To use more than one cookie sheet at a time, rotate your sheets about half way through the bake. Put the top pan on the bottom rack and the bottom pan on top.
Check cookies at minimum baking time. All ovens are different. An extra minute or two can make a difference between perfectly baked and burnt.
Cool your cookies on the cookie sheet. Place the sheet on a cooling rack for a few minutes to firm them slightly before removing them with a spatula or pancake turner.
If your cooled cookies stick to the cookie sheet, place them into a warm oven for about 30 seconds. For the next batch, either use a clean cookie sheet, or gently wipe the crumbs off the used sheet with paper towels and lightly re-grease it. Then avoid cooling the next batch as long.
Keep soft cookies in a container with a tight lid to retain moisture. If they are a little dry, store them in the container while they’re still warm.
Cool your cookies thoroughly before freezing. Store each recipe in a separate freezer container that is labeled with the name and date. Most will freeze well for up to six months. You can store frosted cookies for up to two months, but we suggest you freeze the cookies unfrosted and then frost them just before serving.
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