For years I struggled.
I was raised by a ... well... a person who made everything healthy.
Cookies were made with applesauce, not butter.
Pancakes were made out of whole wheat flour and bran... not Bisquick...
I don't know for sure if my mom could bake, because she always made everything healthy...
It wasn't as though we were wrestling to get the first taste. (LOVE YOU MOM!!)
I couldn't bake.
I could cook. I could BBQ.
But... I could not make a cookie to save my life.
Sometimes they were as flat as pancakes and caramelized on the bottom.
Sometimes they stayed in a ball and were as dry as the Sahara desert.
Sometimes they would be burned on the bottom and raw on the inside...
Some were giant cookies and some were tiny.
I hope you get the picture. I wasn't a baker. My cookies were sad and pathetic. I decided that I didn't even like cookies... so what is the point??
So, one year my Mother-in-law bought me a Kitchen Aid mixer. Internally I rolled my eyes.
"Doesn't she know I don't bake? I am the murderer of all baked goods."
But then... I used it. I did some more research online. I became someone who not only enjoys baking, but someone who makes more than 35+ dozen cookies each holiday season.
My Kitchen Aid, along with these 7 little tricks (that I've learned along the way) changed my world (as a baker)
The Holiday season is upon us, full of dozens of opportunities to bake cookies of all kinds. Homemade cookies are a great gift (as long as they taste good and are pretty to look at). If you have the same problems I had... keep reading.
Tip #1 - USE ROOM TEMPERATURE BUTTER. The temperature of your butter can make or break your cookies. If it is too cold, they will stay mounded up. If the butter is too melted, they will spread and caramelize. If you are going to bake, put your butter out about 1-2 hours before you start. Don't microwave your butter to soften it, you will melt parts which will give you caramelized cookies. Can't wait an hour? Check out this post from Simply Recipes.
Tip #2 - USE EXACT MEASUREMENTS ON FLOUR. If you add too much or too little it will change your cookie's texture. This is how to get an exact measurement: Spoon your flour into your (dry) measuring cup until heaping. Holding the cup over the flour container, tap the top of the measuring cup with a butter knife, once the flour is tapped down, scrape the excess flour off the top.
Tip#3 - UNLESS YOU HAVE A CONVECTION OVEN (or an especially large oven) ONLY BAKE ONE COOKIE SHEET AT A TIME. Just rotate sheets as you go. It is time consuming, but if you have a good book, just camp out in the kitchen and get into a good rhythm, you can have all your cookies baked in under an hour!
Tip #4 - MAKE SURE THE OVEN ISN'T TOO HOT - Nothing can ruin a cookie faster than an oven set a little too high. If your oven runs hot... just turn it down a little, you can always cook the cookies a little longer if they aren't quite done.
Tip #5 - GET THE RIGHT TOOLS - Just like you wouldn't fix your sink with a hammer (more than likely), the tools you use in your kitchen matter! Great cookies aren't just an "accident" they are created using the right tools. You don't have to have a stand mixer (though they ARE fabulous), but a good hand mixer; 1. a rubber (not plastic) scraper; 2. a cookie scoop (now available at stores like Walmart and Target); 3. two good cookie sheets; 4. parchment paper; 5. an accurate timer (with a loud beep) and; 6. wire cooling racks. (Don't have these tools and don't want to spend the money before Christmas? Put them on your Christmas list!)
Tip #6 - USE THE COOKIE SCOOP - I am not good at scooping cookies out to all the same size with a spoon, but once I got a cookie scoop, I had perfect cookies every time! A cookie scoop can save you time (you don't have to wash your hands as often because you aren't touching the dough as much), and it makes beautiful gift-giving cookies.
Tip #7 - DON'T OVER-BAKE YOUR COOKIES - If the cookie is slightly golden brown on the top take them out! I always remove the cookies at the minimum time and leave them for 2 minutes on the cookie sheet before removing them to a cooling rack. Cookies will continue to bake a little after they are removed from the oven. I found that when I started following this advice my cookies remained moist and chewy on the inside while they were slightly crisp on the bottom. Perfect!
Santa has a lot of cookies to eat in one night, don't you think he deserves the very best?
Good luck and HAPPY BAKING!!