Doughs And Don’ts: Tips For Making Perfect Cookies Every Time

Cookies are a big business across the U.S. According to Statista, Nabisco Oreo – the second ranked baked goods manufacturer in the country – sold over $711 million worth of cookies in 2014. Yet as any chef will know, some of the best cookies you’ll ever have are the kind made either at home or in the kitchen for culinary academy. Though baking your own cookies doesn’t come as easily as cracking open a sleeve of store-bought goodies, there are a few ways to keep from crumbling over the process. Here are just a few tips for easier, more scrumptious cookies in no time:

Handle your dough
The state of your dough can have a huge effect on the finished cookies. For one, you always want to let your dough chill for at least an hour before preparing the actual cookies. Given the chemical consistency of dough, cooling it down will make it all that much easier to handle and shape. And speaking of which, you never want to handle all of the dough at once. By splitting the mound of dough into two separate halves, you can ensure you’ve removed all of the air pockets and kneaded the dough properly.

A word on baking sheets
Many non-professional chefs will simply rely on any hardware that they have available. However, professional chefs have the better cookies because they rely on the proper sheets. To start, you always want to make sure that your sheets have no sides, which are easy to slide in and out of the oven and thus are better suited for control total heat exposure. You also want to use shiny, heavy aluminum sheets and not dark sheets. The latter kind absorbs far too much heat and can burn the bottom of the cookies. Finally, always grease your sheets, which will prevent any stickage and burnt cookies. Try and use margarine spread, which has less fat content that most butter brands.

Flour power
Perhaps more than any other ingredient, the amount of flour can decide whether you have soft and moist cookies or hard balls of over-baked dough. As such, you want to ensure that you measure out the right amount of flour for your recipe. The best method is to spoon flour into your measuring cup and then level off with a knife. Try to avoid tapping the knife against the cup, or even dipping it into the actual flour bag. This will often cause you to pack too much flour into the cup, just throwing off your measurements. Also, don’t forget to put the flour into the mixture of cream and sugar incrementally. By stirring between dumps of flour, you can stir the ingredients so they blend more effectively.

Salt matters
On the one hand, cutting back salt is an important way to make healthier food options. However, baked goods like cookies almost rely on salt for the overall quality. Primarily, salt is used to help control flavors, preventing some ingredients from being too sweet while enhancing the overall quality of other ingredients, like almond and vanilla. It’s even important to consider the coarseness of some salts, as these can impact the final taste. As a rule, iodized salt is more coarse than kosher salt. However, to avoid the coarseness debate, you can always melt the salt directly into the batter.

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