Sometimes it’s the little things, the attention to detail, that makes cookies better. Here are thirteen ways that you can make your cookies perfect.
- Use great ingredients. Your cookies won’t be better than your ingredients, and grocery stores usually compete on cost. Mediocre chocolate chips mean mediocre cookies, but great chocolate chips make them better.
- Pay attention to expiration dates. Fresh flour or fresh cinnamon is better. If cinnamon has been sitting in your cupboard for three years, throw it out.
- Measure carefully. Baking requires precision. Check your measuring cups and spoons to be sure they are accurate. Chances are good they are not. Use a kitchen scale to check your measures. One cup of water should weigh eight ounces.
- Pay attention to temperature. Cream your sugar with firm butter; don’t let it melt. If your butter and sugar mixture is soft, your cookies won’t be good. Don’t let the dough get warm either. Butter is supposed to be a solid in most recipes, not a liquid. (I start out with hard butter; it softens as it is beaten.)
- Don’t over-bake your cookies. They should look like they are not quite done. The bottoms should be golden, not brown.
- Make sure the oven temperature is right. We have an oven thermometer in every oven. It’s amazing how much oven temperatures fluctuate.
- Once your oven temperature is right, bake your cookies for the same time every time. We use timers that count the seconds. A cookie that is perfect at 8 minutes and 45 seconds starts to overbake at nine minutes.
- Make your cookies the same size. Little cookies bake more quickly than bigger cookies. So, when the little cookies are baked, the big ones still need a half minute or so. We use a cookie scoop to get the same size every time.
- Use the right pan. Most recipes are designed for dark pans and dark pans absorb more heat in the oven and bake quicker. Lighter pans take longer and as the baking is slower, the cookies spread more.
- Grease your pan correctly. Your pan should be lightly greased and you should wipe off excess grease between batches. Extra grease will make your cookies oily and they will spread too much. We use parchment paper for most cookies.
- Get the cookies off the pan and onto the rack. They’ll continue to cook on a hot pan and once the cookies start to cool, they stick to the pan.
- Let the pan cool between batches. You don’t want the dough starting to heat until you put the pan in the oven.
- Serve your cookies fresh. Most cookies are best served fresh from the oven and after a few hours have lost much of that fresh-baked texture. In our store, we try to serve cookies within five hours.
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(Updated from July 5, 2016)