I don't know about you, but I make dozens of cookies for the holidays.. Here are some tips to help ensure that you make the best cookies possible. I have scoured the internet for some of the best tips I could find from some of the top baking sites. I hope you find them useful.
1. Tough Cookies
If your cookies are tough you are probably over-mixing them. Concentrate on mixing or kneading your cookie dough until the ingredients are combined. Another tip is to use pastry flour instead of all purpose. Pastry flour is lighter and has less protein in it. The end result is less gluten and softer cookies. You may also want to try adding 1/4 cup extra butter or sugar. Those are the 2 ingredients that make your cookies soft.
2. Spreading Cookies
Pay attention to recipes and only make your cookies the size that is specified in the recipe. If you use too much of your batter, it will cause the cookies to lose shape and spread out too much. If you find your cookies doing this, try making them smaller.
3. Cookies sticking to the pan
Try using parchment paper on your pan and be sure to allow them to cool before removing them after baking. 5 minutes is usually a good amount of time for them to cool before moving them to a cooling rack.
4. Burnt Cookies
Oven temperature is important. Make sure to check your oven temp before baking. You may want to invest in an inexpensive oven thermometer. Also, if you are baking a lot of batches, be sure to check the cookies more frequently over time. As the oven warms you will notice your cookies start to bake faster, so you may have to adjust the time accordingly.
5. Dry Cookies
If your cookies are dry it may be because you are scooping the flour into your measuring cup rather than spooning it into the cup. When you dip your measuring cup directly into the flour it compacts the flour and thus gives you more flour than you actually need to bake your cookies. The key is to keep the flour light. Another tip is to check the oven temperature using the same method that I spoke about above. Adding the extra 1/4 cup of sugar or butter when baking can help also.
If your stored cookies are usually dry, try storing them in air tight containers and freezing them or keeping them in a cool area of your home.
6. Pale Cookies
Check your pans. The best cookies sheets are heavy dull aluminum. They allow the cookies to brown better because they help the sugar melt.
Check your oven temperature. You may need to increase it 25 degrees. You may also need to bake your cookies a little bit longer. Last tip is to try adding 1/4 cup more sugar. It is the sugar that makes your cookies brown.
7. Gummy/Chewy Cookies or Bars
Use one less egg or try just using the yolk. You may also want to add more flour. If your cookies seem to have the proper ingredients and are still gummy, try baking them a little longer and pay attention to the edges. When the edges are firm, your cookies are done. If you bake bar cookies, use a toothpick or any cookie tester in the center of the pan and make sure it comes out clean. Also, make sure you use the pan size that is stated in the recipe. If your pan is too small it will make the batter too thick for the baking time.
8. Dark Cookies
You are over baking your cookies! Cut back on the time by a couple of minutes. Pay close attention to the cookies while they bake and take them out when the edges are firm. Another problem is that you may be adding too much sugar. Cut back by 1/4 cup. Finally, make sure you are using a heavy, dull aluminum pan.
9. Flat Cookies
Check your butter or sugar measurements. Try reducing the amount of butter or shortening that you are using by half and see if that helps. You may also want to decrease the sugar by 1/4 cup. These are what make the cookies spread and thus may be why they are spreading too much and making the cookie flat. You can also check your oven temperature and try increasing it by 25 degrees so that they cook faster, giving them less time to spread. Do you chill your dough? If not, you should try chilling it for 30 minutes before baking. Lastly, make sure your pans are completely cooled from prior batch before adding the next batch and clean the pans when they get too greasy.
10. Uneven Browning.
Use a cookie scooper so that all of your cookies are the same size. If your cookies are all a different size, they will not all brown evenly. You should also check your oven temperature using an oven thermometer.
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