It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Why? Because everyone is making cookies. Even people who don’t bake turn on the oven around the holidays. Follow these tips to bake the perfect batch of holiday cookies.
Before You Start
I know you’re busy buying gifts for everyone, but don’t rush into anything here. Take a second before you begin to mix everything together to assemble the ingredients. Make sure that you have everything you need before you realize you’re out of eggs. Read through a recipe to get familiar and comfortable with the process, and don’t forget to preheat your oven.
Follow a recipe
Unless you’re an avid baker and never let the cookie jar run empty, you probably don’t know exact measurements off the top of your head. I believe anyone can make great cookies if they’re following a good recipe. Start with searching online for the types of cookies you want to make. Recipes with reviews are often very helpful because it gives insight into how the cookies turned out for other people. If you’re new to baking, use the proper measuring tools – don’t just eye it. Make a few practice batches and test them out on someone with an honest opinion.
Use Fresh Ingredients
If you haven’t baked in a while, check the expiration dates on your ingredients. If you think your flour, baking soda, baking powder, vanilla, or spices might be more than a year old – throw them out and buy them new. You don’t want to put all of this effort into making delicious cookies only to have your ingredients spoil the batch.
Freeze Your Dough
You’re probably pretty busy, especially around this time of year. Why not make your cookie dough on an evening that isn’t so busy and freeze it? Freezing the dough also improves the texture and flavor of the cookie. Just make your dough, form several little cookie dough balls, and freeze. When you’re ready to bake, just pop the balls on a baking sheet and go! This way you won’t feel so overwhelmed if you’re planning to decorate too.
Butter is what makes cookies taste so good and it’s the most important ingredient. Unsalted butter is usually the best kind to bake with. Many recipes will call for softened butter. It’s really difficult to simply soften butter in a microwave; usually you end up melting it all. I can tell you from experience that melting butter isn’t the same as softening it – it will completely change the structure of the cookie. If you don’t have time to let your butter soften all day, grate it into a bowl and it will soften in a few minutes.
A cookie is only as good as the surface it bakes on. Nothing is worse than pulling perfect looking cookies out of the oven only to maim them as you try to scrape them off of the sheet. Use parchment paper or nonstick baking mats to make the cookies easy to remove. Also, if you are making multiple batches with the same cookie sheet, run the hot sheet under cold water to cool it down. Placing raw cookie dough on an out-of-the-oven cookie sheet will melt the dough and cause the cookies to run into one another.
With these tips you are sure to make a batch of cookies that leaves people wanting more. Let us know what your favorite holiday cookies are!