Compare metal bake ware to stoneware! Let the guests choose for themselves which one they like best.
Top Ten Tips for Making the Best Cookies
Measure Flour Correctly!
This is the most important tip for any baker. Adding too much flour will make your baked goods tough and dry. And be sure to not overwork the dough; mix just until the flour disappears.
Reduce Flour by 3 Tablespoons to 1/4 Cup
I like to reduce the flour amount in most cookie recipes by a few tablespoons, up to 1/4 cup to make the most tender cookies that do not dry out even after several days. To be able to handle the dough, see the next tip:
Chill the Dough Before Baking
Chilling the dough helps softer doughs keep their shape and makes the dough easier to work with. I find that chilling the dough improves the flavor and allows the dough to relax a bit.
Use the Pampered Chef rolling pin!
With this new rolling pin, you won't have to use as much flour when rolling out doughs and your cookies will be more tender. Using a combination of powdered sugar and flour to dust the work surface will also help keep the cookies more tender. The Pampered Chef rolling pin is designed to make all your cookies the same thickness so that way, they will all finish baking at the same time!
Oh me oh my, look here look here, you don't have the cookie sheet my dear? That's okay, you don't have to pay! Use the bar pan that came in your kit! I bet the cookies will be quite a hit!
Use an Oven Thermometer
Be sure that your oven is accurate with a thermometer, then bake cookies at a slightly lower temp. The instructions for your stove or oven will tell you how to adjust the heat if necessary. I have a digital oven, so when a recipe calls for a 350 degrees F oven, I set the temperature to 345 degrees F. This small reduction in temperature ensures the cookies won't overbake and overbrown, especially on the bottom. With each batch of cookies, the baking time will be reduced because of the increased humidity in the oven from the cookies.
Soften Butter Properly
It's difficult to soften butter properly in a microwave oven; too often part of the butter melts, which will change the structure of the cookies. Butter and sugar form the basic structure of the cookies; the sugar cuts small air pockets into the butter, which are stabilized by the flour and filled with C02 from the baking powder. Soften butter by letting it stand at room temperature for a couple of hours. You can also grate the butter into a bowl, then it will soften in a few minutes.
Making and freezing doughs ahead of time not only is a great time saver, but it improves the texture of the cookies. Icebox cookies are shaped into a log, wrapped, and chilled or frozen until it's time to bake. You can form drop cookie dough into balls and freeze; bake from the frozen state, adding a few minutes to the baking time. This technique also lets you make all the doughs one day, then take another day for the fun part: baking and decorating!
Use Fresh Ingredients
Make sure that all of your ingredients are fresh. Buy new baking powder and baking soda, vanilla and spices, flour and sugar. Most of us don't bake often during the year, and it's a good bet that your ingredients are more than a year old. You're putting a lot of effort and heart into these cookies: start with the best ingredients!
I set the timer for 2-3 minutes less than the cooking time called for in the recipe. I take the cookies out of the oven just as they're beginning to look done because the residual heat from the cookie sheet will continue to bake the cookies. Also, slightly underbaked cookies are more tender and moist.
Insulated Cookie Sheets and Cookie Scoops
One of the biggest problems with delicate doughs is they can get too brown on the bottom. Insulated sheets prevent that so your cookies turn out perfectly every time. And using cookie scoops means your cookies will all be exactly the same size.
Now that you are a cookie expert, enjoy the time you spend in the kitchen with family and friends, baking wonderful cookies.
-About.com busy cooks (some changes added)