Sunday, June 17, 2007

Sherri's Helpful Hints

Cookie Basics

There are 6 different kinds of cookies:

Drop Cookies - these are made by dropping soft dough (by spoonfuls) onto the baking sheet.

Rolled Cookies - these are made from chilled dough that has been rolled flat on a floured surface. Shapes are then cut with cookie cutters or free form with a knife.

Refrigerator Cookies - these are made from dough that has been rolled into logs and then chilled. Cookies are sliced from the log.

Pressed Cookies - these are made by piping chilled dough through a cookie press, pastry bag or sturdy plastic bag.

Bar Cookies - these are baked in a single batch (usually in a 13x9x2 pan) and then cut into squares or bars after they have cooled.

Shaped or Molded Cookies - these are made with a stiff dough that is formed into balls or other shapes.

Tools You Will Need:

Basic Equipment - You will need a rolling pin, measuring cups for dry and liquid ingredients, a rubber spatula (good to scrape the sides of the bowl), cookie cutters, a sturdy baking sheet and a wire rack to cool cookies.

The Ingredients - You can save time and frustration by reading through the recipe and measuring out all the ingredients before beginning. This way, you will be less likely to skip an ingredient or make a mistake (or only have 1 of the 2 eggs you need for the recipe).

For Best Results:

Use the freshest ingredients available.

Nearly all cookie recipes call for a fat. Unsalted butter is a good choice because it gives the cookies a creamy richness. Whatever you do decide to use, be sure to soften it furst.

All-purpose flour is fine to use for almost all cookie recipes.

Techniques to Make Perfect Cookies:

Blending butter and sugar: Use either a wooden spoon or an electric mixer and cream the butter with the sugar for about 5 minutes, or until the mixture is light and fluffy.

Adding liquids: After creaming the butter and sugar together, it is time to add the liquids. The liquids used can be milk, eggs, extracts or another flavor enhancer. Beat the mixture throughly.

Adding dry ingredients: Dry ingredients should always be added last. Mix with the batter just to blend the dry ingredients in; overmixing can result in tough cookies.

Shaping uniform cookies: Whether you roll the dough and cut it with cookie cutters or if you shape it by hand, make sure that the cookies are the same size. This will help the cookies bake evenly and in the same amount of time.

Spacing cookies evenly: Place the cookies far enough apart, so that as they spread out, they do not touch. Usually 1" is sufficient. Cookies normally bake at 375 degrees for 8-10 minutes.

Cooling cookies: After they come out of the oven, it is best to transfer them to a cooling rack. When cookies are fully cooled before storing, they will not become soggy due to condensation.

Additional Tips:

When you use a rolling pin, use as little flour as possible for the work surface (just a light sprinkle will do). Roll the dough to 1/4" thickness.

Divide the dough in half and rolling it out will be much easier. If the dough sticks to the work surface, lightly sprinkle flour under and on top of the dough. Continue to roll out, lift and turn the dough.

Keep the half of dough that you're not working on in the refrigerator to keep it firm and easier to roll out.

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