Baking cookies is usually our first foray into cooking, and it remains one of the most pleasurable cooking experiences throughout our lives. The simple act of combining a few ingredients to make a big batch of sweets is a great way to spread some holiday cheer. To make sure your cookies are baked to perfection, we rounded up a few simple guidelines.
Cream the butter. If a cookie recipe calls for butter and sugar, it’s important to mix, or cream, the two together. Use a stand mixer to cream the ingredients with the paddle attachment for about five minutes. Start out on low speed for the first minute or so, and then increase the speed to medium. This process aerates the butter, creating a light color and creamy texture, and ultimately gives the cookies more height.
Pay attention to the eggs. As with all perishable ingredients, always use the freshest, highest quality eggs you can find. Add eggs to the cookie dough one at a time, making sure each egg is completely incorporated into the batter before adding another. We recommend scraping the sides and bottom of the mixing bowl frequently with a rubber spatula to make sure every bit of the egg is mixed into the dough.
Fold in the dry ingredients. Rather than separately adding dry ingredients such as flour, baking soda, and salt to cookie dough, combine them in one bowl and mix well with a whisk, so that they will be evenly distributed throughout the cookies. Then, when the instructions call for it, fold the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients with a rubber spatula. Add small amounts at a time, folding in each batch until all of the flour has been absorbed into the dough. Folding the dough helps avoid over-mixing, which could result in tough cookies.
Chill the dough. It’s tempting to form and bake your cookies as soon as you make the dough – waiting can be agony when there are hungry people around – but chilling the finished dough for one hour in the refrigerator will ensure thicker, chewier cookies. If the butter inside the dough is not chilled before baking, it will melt quickly when placed in the oven, resulting in flat cookies that burn around the edges but stay raw in the middle. It’s worth waiting an hour to make the best cookie possible.
There really is nothing better than warm, freshly baked cookies. We hope your holiday season is filled with lots of delicious treats now that you’re armed with our best baking tips!
Find more baking tips like these as well as wonderful cookie recipes in our latest cookbook, More from Macrina.