Get professional looking cookies at home!
Hello! Have you ever wondered why you follow these professional recipes down to the very last letter and end up with an amateur result? I did… as a naturally competitive person that I am (perhaps to a fault) , I was constantly irritated that my baked goods, cookies in particular, were not better than the store bought brand. “Ah, that is because the stores have their own bakers”… well, what are those people if not normal folks who get a job at that bakery? But more importantly… are their homemade cookies better than mine? Not anymore! I have compiled a list of common mistakes that I have made and other things to makes the most awesome cookies and impress any crowd.
1. Soften butter properly. This seems easily and self-explanatory but it’s not. After years and years of flat, weird-textured cookies I came across proper softening. Butter is “softened” at about 65 degrees… this is ideal because beating raises the temperature of the butter. Butter is “melting” at about 80 degrees. So if your butter is 75 degrees prior to beating, by the time you’ve beaten it, then your butter is no longer softened but melting.
a. Cut your butter into tablespoon pieces. I cut them and spread them apart from each other for even softening. Otherwise, you end up with a stiff middle and melted ends.
b. Leave your butter to soften for about 45 minutes. Unless you live in an igloo like my sister, then leave it out for about 2 hours. Never overnight! That is technically melted butter and your cookies will not be as good. Do not listen to the advice of tv cooks… they are wrong in this instance.
c. Never ever heat or microwave your butter. I figured this would go without saying, but I’ve had more than a few conversations on this.
2. Use an oven thermometer. This will ensure that your oven is the proper temperature for cookie baking. Also, check your oven for even temperature. I once had an oven that was way hotter on one side. If you have an oven like that, half way through baking, rotate your cookie sheet.
3. Invest in a cookie scoop! This is my favorite. A cookie scoop is great because it provides a consistent size for all your cookies. They will bake the same but most importantly… the cookies will be pretty and look professional! Also, make sure when using a cookie scoop, scoop against the edge of the bowl. If you scoop uneven scoops, then what was the point, yeah?
4. Always use parchment paper. Oh, parchment paper, how do I love thee… I won’t count the ways. Parchment paper is so great; it keeps your cookie sheet clean, keeps the cookies from sticking to the cookie sheet, and protects the cookie bottoms from burning.
5. Follow the instructions. If your cookies call to be refrigerated, refrigerate the dough… I’ve found that 2 hours is barely sufficient. Overnight chilling yields much better results.
6. Use a timer. I am guilty of forgetting to set my timer periodically. Make sure to not keep opening the oven door to check them if you forget to set your timer, lets out the heat and could mess up cookies.
7. Be observant. Now, this is for a couple things. See how your oven is, if your cookies call for 10 minute baking but are to crisp, then reduce your timer. If it calls for 10 minutes but it’s underdone, leave it in longer. Yes, this kind of contradicts number 5, but it’s because ovens are not all cast from the same mold.
8. Most important… If at first you don’t succeed. try, try again! I am most guilty of running away after a baking failure. For this reason, I avoided cookies for many, many years. All the more reason I felt this is tip list was so important.
I hope that whatever I’ve learned can help you make awesome, pretty cookies at home. You’ll have your guests asking “where did you buy these?” Ah, music to my ears. If you have any other tips that I don’t know about, please share. Let’s make the world a better tasting place. Happy baking!