Whether you’re a beginner at making cookies from scratch or you’ve been making cookies for your grandchildren for decades, you’ll love these tips and tricks for baking perfect cookies every time.
How to Bake Cookies Without Burning the Bottoms
How to keep the bottoms of cookies from burning is the number 1 question we get asked. If your cookie bottoms keep burning, too-hot cookie sheets are probably to blame. When you start with a too-hot surface, the bottoms cook too fast, causing them to burn. To bake cookies without burning the bottoms, let the baking sheets cool between batches; 2–3 minutes is usually long enough. Or you can line the baking sheets with parchment paper. When the cookies are done, simply lift them, still on the parchment, onto the cooling rack.
DIY Double-Decker Baking Sheet
Another great tip for keeping cookie bottoms from burning is making sure you’re using an insulated or thick cookie sheet. If you don’t have one, there’s a simple solution: Try baking the cookies on two sheets stacked one on top of the other. This will eliminate burned bottoms caused by a too-thin pan.
How to Unstick Cookies from a Cookie Sheet
Are your cookies stuck to the baking sheet? Work some dental floss between each cookie and the sheet, and you should be able to remove them easily.
Cookie Cooling Secret
Cookies can go from “just right” to burned in no time. To reduce the chances of this happening, take the cookies out of the oven when they are not quite done, but don’t transfer them to the cooling rack right away—let them sit on the hot pan for a minute or two to finish baking. Once you transfer them to the rack, be sure to let them fully cool before you store them; otherwise, they may become soggy.
Is Your Brown Sugar Lumpy?
Brown sugar loses moisture rather quickly and develops lumps easily. Keep this from happening by sticking a few salt-free crackers in the canister to absorb the moisture. (Replace the crackers every week.) Or, keep the brown sugar in the freezer—if you have room. To soften hardened sugar, put it in the microwave with a slice of fresh white bread or half an apple, cover the dish tightly, and heat for 15–20 seconds; let it stand five minutes before using. The moisture from the bread or apple will produce enough steam to soften the sugar without melting it. Or, wrap a sugar lump in a ball of foil and bake in a 350º oven for five minutes. It will be back to its old self in no time.
Forgot to Soften the Butter?
You’re making cookies or another baked good, but forgot to soften the butter. Instead of the trial-and-error involved in attempting to soften (but not melt) butter in the microwave, zap the sugar instead. Mixing butter with warm sugar will soften it in a second.
The Best Way to Chop Chocolate
Chopping chocolate for a sweet recipe can be a real pain, thanks to the tiny shards of chocolate left on your cutting board. Make your job much easier by simply heating the chocolate before you cut it. (One minute in the microwave usually does the trick; heat until the edges start to melt.) The slightly softened chocolate won’t splinter as much, making sure you waste very little!
Food Processor Tip
Chopping nuts or other cookie ingredients in a food processor? Try adding a small amount of sugar, which will keep the nut pieces from sticking together.
How to Chop Nuts without a Chopper
The quickest way to “chop” nuts is to place them in a sealed plastic bag, then roll over them with a rolling pin. (This is also a clean, easy way to break up graham crackers or vanilla wafers to make a pie crust!)
How to Keep Cookies Crisp
Once your cookies are baked, cooled, and ready to be stored in their container, use this tip to ensure they stay crisp and delicious. Place a wad of crumpled-up tissue paper at the very bottom of your container, then fill with cookies and close the lid.
How to Keep Cookies Soft
To keep your cookies tasting soft and chewy until the last one is eaten, add a half an apple or a slice of white bread to the cookie jar. This will provide just enough moisture to keep the cookies from becoming hard.
Keep Your Christmas Cookies Fresh
Baking cookies or other pastries to give as gifts this Christmas? They’ll stay fresh for about a week if stored in a sealed container. You can also keep the goodies in plastic wrap until you’re ready to deliver them as presents. If you’re packaging them in a cardboard gift box, however, you’ll still need to guard them in an airtight container: Stick the entire box into a large zip-tight plastic bag.
These tips are even better when you listen to them on our podcast—this episode also included our Lifehack Lightning Round, a tip from ThePennyHoarder.com, and tips for wrapping your Christmas presents! Subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, or Spotify. And don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter and follow us on Facebook!
Image by Shutterstock.