Wednesday, April 25, 2012

NEXT UP: Baking Tips

I'm no expert baker, but I've churned out enough cookies and cupcakes to know a few tips about baking. This will probably be the first in a series of "Baking Tips" posts. Feel free to share your own in the comments section!

Chill out, Dough! Placing your cookie dough in the fridge for some period of time before baking makes a world of difference. The widely circulated NYTimes cookie article emphasizes this step. In fact, this is easily my biggest advice for cookie-makers. If your batter is too watery or your cookies come out too flat, chilling the dough first will definitely help. I usually refrigerate my dough overnight. I know it's hard to wait - but trust me on this one. 

Parchment paper, please. No one likes to pull seemingly perfect cookies out of the oven, only to discover the bottoms are somewhat burnt. Your oven may be sabotaging you if the bottom of the oven expels more heat (in which case, place your cookies on a higher rack). However, it could also be a pan problem. A cookie pan gets super hot--hence why you wear oven mitts--but parchment paper placed on top does not heat up. Plus, each sheet is non-stick and can be used several times. Save the cookie butts; line your sheets with parchment paper.

Experimenters: Proceed with caution. Some of the best recipes are created when a baker strays from the original instructions. I'm all for experimentation, but sometimes I add in an extra ingredient too quickly. For example - these pictured almond butter oatmeal cookies were on the track toward greatness...until I decided to add in some unsweetened coca powder. It would've been a sweet idea, but I poured in way too much cocoa and my cookies came out super dry. Yuck. Add your personal touches to a recipe, just do it in cautious increments.

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