How To - Baking Perfect Cookie Tips!
Baking is fun, but it's also a science! But like anything you do, to be good at it, you may need some baking guidance along the way. Here are some awesome tips to help you out in the kitchen to help improve your skills whether you are a beginner, moderate or just need a refresher! 🙂
READ THROUGH THE RECIPE
That way, you'll know exactly what you're getting yourself in for. When baking, you need to have accuracy, so it's very important that you are familiar with the recipe and tools needed before beginning.
You might want to read it through two or three times more, just to make sure it all makes sense and you have everything you need. (Every time I don't do this before-hand, it usually comes back to bite me in the buttocks.)
USE GOOD UTENSILS AND TOOLS
USE FINE QUALITY AND FRESH INGREDIENTS
Be sure you ingredients are fresh and are of fine quality. Otherwise, your baked goods won't be of good quality. Makes perfect sense.
BRING INGREDIENTS TO ROOM TEMPERATURE
Ingredients like butter, shortening and eggs need to come to room temperature. Store them on the counter several hours prior to making the recipe. Also, some recipes using yogurt, cream cheese and buttermilk are sometimes required to be room temperature as well. If you don't have time to wait, you can always nuke them in the microwave for 10-15 seconds to give them a head-start.
Room temperature ingredients will mix better with dry ingredients, like flour and sugar and helps the cookies hold it's shape as your cookies bake. Unless your recipe calls for chilled, very softened or melted butter, stick with room temperature.
The fastest way to get butter to room temperature is to cut it into pieces or grate it and let it sit on a plate for approximately 30 minutes at a minimum, while you get the other ingredients ready. I usually put mine out an hour or two. Butter should be 65 degrees F and give slightly when pressed with a fingertip, cold to the touch but warm enough to spread. Otherwise, if it gets warmer, the butter melts and it gets greasy, possibly leaving you with unflattering, flat and greasy cookies.
Unsalted butter is normally what is recommended for baking.
If you do use salted butter, only use ½ the amount of salt call for in the recipe. Don't skip salt, because it balances out the flavors and sweetness.
CREAMING BUTTER AND SUGAR
"Creaming" is basically blending ingredients together with butter, shortening or a solid fat.
- It allows the sugar to be well distributed throughout the batter and disperse into the butter.
- By beating together the ingredients until light, pale and fluffy, it incorporates more air into the batter, making your cookies rise better and be lighter in texture.
- When creaming, start beating on low speed for the first 30 seconds and then continue on medium for up to 2 minutes. When the mixture is over-creamed, creamed too fast or it's too warm, the butter starts to break down and release the previously creamed-in air bubbles.
ADD EGGS ONE AT A TIME
Each time you add an egg to your butter and sugar mixture, make sure you mix it so that it’s fully incorporated before adding the next.
If it's a little curdled, that is fine, just keep mixing, most likely the eggs are cold mixed with the butter. Taking the extra time to do this will help ensure a consistent texture throughout the cookie. Make this step even easier by using room-temperature eggs.
DON'T OVER-MIX THE DOUGH
After you add your dry ingredients to the wet ingredients, mix your cookie dough just until it starts to come together.
Overmixing your cookie dough will develop excess gluten and make your cookies tough.
WHISK YOUR DRY INGREDIENTS WELL
Most cookie recipes instruct you to mix your dry ingredients, like flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda, before adding them to your wet mixture of butter, sugar, and eggs.
Make sure you’ve whisked these ingredients together well especially when using baking powder and baking soda. It will help your cookies will leaven and rise more evenly if these ingredients are well incorporated. Whisking helps break up clumps in the flour that can create dry pockets within the cookies as well.
MEASURE YOUR FLOUR CORRECTLY
Most important tip for any baker for flour measuring, is if you add too much flour, it will make your baked goodies crumbly, dried out and hard. When in doubt, it is always better to use a little less flour. Most times, I will subtract a couple of tablespoons of flour and add it back in after seeing what my dough looks like according to what the recipe calls out it should look like.
Always be sure to not overwork the dough and incorporate all the ingredients together just until the flour disappears.
Dry measuring cups are meant to be filled right up to the top and then leveled off with a straight edge.
WHEN MEASURING FLOUR BY VOLUME
- Fluff up the flour.
- Lightly spoon the flour into your dry-cup measurement, without packing it down.
- Scrape off the excess with a straight edge by using the handle of a spoon or knife.
(Dipping the cup into the flour will cause the flour to be packed down and will result in too much flour in your recipe.)
Always preheat your oven 10-15 minutes before you begin baking your cookies. Preheating an oven is especially important with baking when you use yeast, baking soda and baking powder as leavenings react to heat. It has a major impact on the final results.
By putting the cookies in before your oven reaches full temperature, they’ll take longer to bake. This gives the butter in the cookie dough more time to melt and spread out, and you could end up with thin, flat cookies.
You can purchase an oven thermometer to check your oven to make sure it is operating at the right temperature. Cooking times can throw off the texture and appearance of your cookies if your oven isn't heating properly, which makes the difference of awesomely baked cookies versus the opposite.
DON'T OVERBAKE YOUR COOKIES!
Most recipes will tell you what your finished cookies should look like when you remove them from the oven. On the first batch, check the cookie time closely, setting your timer at the lowest time setting per the recipe instructions and go from there for the rest of the batches and your oven has had time to pre-heat effectively.
Cookies can be all sizes, so your timing could be different. If you’re still unsure, look for a light golden-brown color around the edges of your cookies. If the edges start to brown too much, the cookies will be dry and over-baked throughout.
Be sure to use a baking sheet without sides or with very low sides.
Use parchment paper to line pans or lightly grease pan before using. Too much grease will cause the dough to spread and edges will be crisp and thin out and sometimes burn. Cookies spread more on greased sheets so parchment paper is preferred.
When baking, bake on one cookie sheet at a time, on the center rack of the oven, providing proper heat circulation. Let the cookies cool on the pans for a few minutes before transferring to baking wire racks or cookies could break apart when removing from the cookie sheet because they are still setting up.
Also, when adding a new batch of cookies to your baking sheet, make sure the baking sheet is either cool or at room temperature, otherwise, your cookies will melt, flatten and the appearance would not be very attractive, ya know?
COOLING COOKIES PROPERLY
For most cookies, unless otherwise instructed, wait a full two minutes before moving the cookies from your baking sheet.
A few extra minutes on the baking sheet helps ensure that the centers are cooked through and gives the cookie time to firm up some before you attempt to move it. After two minutes, move the cookies to a wire rack to continue cooling.
BAKING PERFECT COOKIES
Use a cookie scoop or ice cream scoop to get those picture-perfect cookies to all look the same. Sometimes I like to piggy back my cookie dough ball scoop on top of another cookie dough ball scoop, to get even thicker, fudgier cookies instead of one big cookie ball scoop for each cookie.
Leave 2 inches between cookies. If cookies are large, then adjust for more space. If it spreads too much try chilling the dough or adding a little more flour to the dough.
When baking the cookies, I always set my timer, and check my first batch of cookies 2 - 3 minutes before the cookies are meant to be done, and then adjust how long I want to set my timer for the remainder of the cookies left to bake.
Timing correctly can mean the difference between a great cookie and a ruined cookie.
Remove baked cookies from the cookie sheet to the wire rack immediately to prevent further baking, unless the recipe directs otherwise. That way the cookies aren't hard to remove and won't break or tear apart.
CHILLING THE DOUGH BEFORE BAKING & THICKER COOKIE TIPS!
I like cookie recipes that I don't have to chill the dough, because I don't like waiting around. I want cookies now!
However, sometimes I will chill the dough for a 10-15 minutes, while I'm waiting for the oven to preheat. You can chill it either put it in the fridge or freezer. Sometimes, the dough can become a little warm, and when that happens the cookies will spread out more. (more tips below for freezer/fridge)
If you want thicker cookies, adding some add-ins also helps thicken cookies, like nuts, chocolate chips or dried fruits.
A low proportion of sugar relative to flour reduces spread, also keeps the cookies thick.
A lot of recipes required chilling of the dough because it improves the flavor and allows the dough to relax a bit, hydrating the flour. It helps them from flattening out and helps them hold there shape better.
Roll or scoop your cookie dough into tall balls or 2 scoops on top of each other, instead of perfectly round balls. Taller balls or scoops of cookie dough definitely ensure thicker cookies. Cookies may require an extra minute or 2 of baking.
Line your baking sheet. Use a silicone baking mat or parchment paper. Coating your baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray or butter creates an overly greasy foundation, causing the cookies to spread.
Never place cookie dough balls onto hot baking sheets. Always use cool or room temperature baking sheets.
Freeze your cookie dough balls or scoops for 10-15 minutes before baking. I love this tip! After you roll the cookie dough into scoops or balls, freeze them for 10-15 minutes. Place the balls on a plate or cookie sheet and put in the freezer, while your oven is preheating.
Result: The colder the dough, the thicker the cookie. It's better to scoop or roll the dough balls, instead of placing the whole bowl of cookie dough in the fridge and then trying to scoop them. Because, once the dough gets cold, it is hard to scoop, like a rock hard ice cream does. You may break your cookie dough scoop! I know this, because it happened to me.
If you notice your cookies over-spreading, remove your baking sheet from the oven. Use a spoon or knife to push the edges back towards the center of the cookie. It can reshape your over-spreading cookies. Place back in the oven. Repeat during bake time if necessary, then repeat one more time when the cookies have finished baking.
Making and freezing dough ahead of time is a great time saver. It also improves the texture of the cookies. 'Icebox' cookies or 'Slice & Bake' cookies are shaped into a log and wrapped and then either chilled or frozen until it's time to bake.
You can also form drop cookie dough into balls and freeze. When ready to bake, place on your baking sheet frozen, adding a few minutes to the baking time. This also lets you make a lot of different cookie dough(s) in any given day.
Then take another day for the best part: The baking, decorating and eating!
Here's more info for Storing and Freezing Cookies.
Chocolate Chip Cookies are appropriate in every season, for every celebration and for no reason at all is preferred at my casa.
There's even a National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day! Best day ever!
HOW DO YOU PREFER YOUR COOKIES?
Do you prefer yours chewy or crispy, with chocolate chunks or chips, with dark chocolate, milk chocolate or semi-sweet chocolate? If you like thin and crispy, you'll love these Perfect Thin & Crispy Chocolate Chip Cookies! If you love cashews and milk chocolate, you gotta try these OMG! Ultimate Milk Chocolate Cashew Cookies! The options are endless!
TYPES OF CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES AND TIPS
Here's a few for you!
- Here's Martha Stewart's Genius Guide To Making Every Type Of Chocolate Chip Cookie from the Huffington Post.
- Handle the Heat has the cookie scoop! She has The Ultimate Guide to Chocolate Chip Cookies. She even has the Ultimate Cookie Troubleshooting Guide! How cool is that!?
- You can also check out The Baking ChocolaTess's (that's me!) How – To! Baking Perfect Cookie Tips! Because what's better than Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies? <---Seriously, did you see them, you'll see why they are so perfect!
- Pinch of Yum has a good read and talks on 'Tips for Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookies' and these tips are winners for sure!