Though if they’re fresh from the oven and not burnt, that’s half the battle won, in my opinion.
Most cookies are pretty simple: You buy the ingredients, follow the directions, pop them in the oven, wait and bit and, boom, you’ve got a treat. But there are some tricks of the trade that could make your baking season go a little better.
1. YOU KEEP EIGHT ROLLING PINS IN THE KITCHEN JUST FOR GROUP BAKING
If you’re planning to bake cookies with a crowd during the holidays, you don’t actually need one rolling pin per person. Cleaned, labels-removed wine bottles work just as well. Just flour them as you would a normal rolling pin. Plus, it’s a good excuse to have a glass or two before you start baking!
2. YOU SKIP MAKING CUTOUT COOKIES BECAUSE YOU DON’T HAVE THE RIGHT COOKIE CUTTERS
You don’t actually need cookie cutters to make Christmas cookies. Use a butter knife to cut the shapes you want out of a rolled out piece of dough, or get creative with kitchen utensils. You can stamp out dough with the rims of different shaped glassware.
3. YOU MAKE A FRESH BATCH OF COOKIES EVERY TIME YOU HAVE A VISITOR DURING THE HOLIDAYS
Make one big batch of cookies and freeze individual portions in ice cube trays. If you’re using shapes, freeze already cut out dough on a cookie sheet until cold, and then transfer to a freezer bag. You might need to bake the frozen dough for a few minutes longer than the recipe calls for, but it’s totally worth it.
4. YOU OPEN AN UNUSED STICK OF BUTTER JUST TO GREASE YOUR COOKIE SHEETS
Don’t throw away your butter wrappers until you are completely done baking. There is typically some extra butter left there, so just rub the butter side of the paper over your cookie sheets to grease them.
5. YOU BAKE SHAPED COOKIES ON THE TOP RACK OF THE OVEN.
If your cookies aren’t retaining their shape when you bake them, try putting them on a lower oven rack with an empty cookie sheet on the top rack. That will block them from the most intense heat that rises to the top of the oven.
6. YOU SOFTEN BUTTER IN THE MICROWAVE.
Softening butter in the microwave inevitably leads to at least some of it melting, which will mess with the consistency of your cookies (especially when the recipe calls for creaming the butter and sugar.) Instead, grate rock-hard butter with a box grater, and it will be room temperature in no time.
7. YOUR SUGAR COOKIE RECIPE DOESN’T FEATURE SOUR CREAM
It might sound weird, but sour cream is the secret to super soft sugar cookies, with the perfectconsistency. Try this recipe and you’ll be converted for life.
8. YOU THROW AWAY STALE COOKIES
Don’t give up on those stale cookies just yet. Store slightly stale cookies (not so old that you know longer feel comfortable eating them) in a sealable sandwich bag overnight with a piece of bread. They’ll bounce back and be good to go for when guests arrive in the morning.
9. YOU BAKE THE ENTIRE BATCH OF COOKIES ALL AT ONCE
Cookies typically only take around 8 to 10 minutes to bake, so it’s always a good idea to test bake one individual cookie first, before you put the entire batch in the oven. That way, if the cookies spread more than you originally portioned space for, you won’t end up with one enormous stuck-together cookie. It’s also a useful trick for determining exactly how long your oven will take to bake each cookie within the range that recipes typically give.
10. YOU THROW AWAY BURNT COOKIES
Ok, if you completely forgot about them and they’re burnt to a crisp, you can chuck them. But for burnt bottoms, simply grate away those too crispy parts.
11. YOU ONLY TAKE YOUR COOKIES OUT OF THE OVEN AFTER THE EDGES TURN BROWN
If you leave sugar cookies in the oven until the edges turn brown, that typically means they’re just (ever so slightly) overdone. Instead, check that the bottoms of the cookies before the tops turn, and if the bottoms are a light golden brown, then you’ve baked them to perfection. If you’re making thicker cookies, break open a test cookie to double check that there isn’t any raw dough in the middle.