Tips for making great Cookies
From Tips Cooks Love by Sur La Table with Rick Rodgers/Andrews McMeel Publishing click for book review
Do not overcream the butter and sugar for cookies.
Unlike cake batter baked in a pan, cookie dough is
baked free-form. When the dough is heated and the
chemical leaveners expand the air bubbles, the bubbles
burst without a pan to force the dough upward,
producing flat cookies. For cookies, cream the butter
and sugar for only 1 to 2 minutes, just until the mixture
is smooth but has not lightened in color.
Another insurance policy against flat cookies: chill
butter-based cookie dough before baking. Butter has
a low melting point, and starts to soften as soon as it
is exposed to oven heat. Refrigerate the chilled dough
for at least 30 minutes and up to 2 days before shaping
and baking. This only works with dough that uses
baking powder for leavening. Don't do this with dough
that includes baking soda as the leavener, which
loses its rising power soon after it is mixed with wet
Professionals use spring-loaded ice cream scoops to
portion cookie dough, making cookies the same size
that will bake at the same rate. A tablespoon-size
scoop is the right capacity for most recipes.
For even cookie baking and easy cleanup, bake your cookies
on heavy-duty, rimmed aluminum baking sheets
(half sheet pans) lined with parchment paper. To help
the paper adhere, butter the baking sheet first. You
can also line baking sheets with silicone baking mats
instead of parchment.
If using silicone mats, you may want to do a test run.
Some cookie bottoms won't crisp as well on the mat as
they do on parchment-lined baking sheets. Of course, this can be an advantage if you prefer
soft, cakelike cookies.
There's no need to transfer cookies to a wire rack to
cool. In fact, more harm can be done by transferring
warm, delicate, pliable cookies to a rack than by letting
them stand on the sheet. If you need to remove
the cookies to use the baking sheet again, let them cool
on the sheet until they are firm enough to move.
To discourage overbrowned cookie bottoms (which
can happen when an oven heats unevenly), insulate
the baking sheet by placing it inside a second baking
sheet of the same size. The thin layer of air between
the sheets will protect the top sheet from getting too
Don't store different types of cookies together or they
will exchange flavors and textures. Tin or stainless steel
covered containers work best for storage, but
plastic containers can also be used as long as they are
airtight and fragrance free.
To revive crisp cookies that have softened, bake them
for 5 to 10 minutes in a 300°F oven. Let them cool
completely before storing.
To help soft cookies keep their texture, store them in
an airtight container with a ceramic brown sugar softener,
or with a piece of apple on a piece of aluminum
foil, or soft bread (remove the apple after 24 hours).