It’s really not too difficult to become a lean, mean, baking machine (Well, the lean part might fall to the wayside, but who cares? You’re going to be the best baker in your entire network of friends!). The secret to perfect cookies is knowledge (cliche alert!). With the following tips under your culinary belt, I promise you’ll produce cookies worth murdering for. Unless you’re just incredibly untalented and can’t cook worth shit; in that case, find a new hobby.
6 Tips For Baking Perfect Cookies
(courtesy of Martha Stewart, the queen of all things abhorred by old-school feminists):
#1: Line Cookie Sheets for Easy Cleanup:
You don’t need to go about the messy process of getting Crisco all over the place when greasing your baking sheets. All you need is some parchment paper or Silpat mats. The liners keep cookies from sticking, and then they make cleanup a breeze. I personally prefer Silpat, only because I like to go around saying the name over and over in a fake French accent.
#2: Soften Butter for Baking:
I do this every single time I want to bake cookies: I forget to soften the damn butter. And then I optimistically stick it in the microwave only to pull out a boiling liquid mess a minute later. Trust me: microwave = ruined butter. Instead, try this: Over a mixing bowl, shred the amount of butter you need on a grater. The little pieces will soften faster than a solid stick. I know I’ll still get impatient, but remember that nothing ruins a batch of cookies faster than big clumps of butter in the batter.
#3: Sift Nuts and Chocolate:
I’ve never heard of this before, but apparently you should sift any chopped nuts or chocolate pieces that are used in a light-colored cookie dough. Eliminating the “dust” from these ingredients will help maintain the color of the dough and keep flavors distinct. I kind of think that’s kind of overwrought bullshit, but that doesn’t mean I won’t try it out.
#4: Avoid Overmixing the Batter:
This is CRITICAL. Only mix the batter until all the ingredients are just barely mixed in (also why adding flour a little at a time is key). If you overmix the dough, you overdevelop the gluten, “which could hinder tenderness and result in an unpleasant texture.” Okay, that’s a weird way of putting it. Basically, overmixing means your cookies will be tough and chewy and disgusting, so don’t do it!
#5: Rotate Baking Sheets:
I just learned this trick while watching Ina Garten with Corgi (I think I need to make more friends). Do you ever look at a sheet of cookies and notice they’re all baking differently? Some are big and puffy and some are flat and spreading everywhere. The solution: Rotate the baking sheets, usually once about halfway through the baking time. Turn the sheets front to back, and, if you have sheets on both the upper and lower racks of the oven, swap their positions. Most ovens have hot and cold spots (hot is usually in the back), so this will ensure that the cookies bake evenly.
#6: Cool Cookie Sheets Between Batches:
I usually only have one sheet in the oven at a time, and I keep swapping them out. But, obviously, the cookie sheet is hot after being in the oven, which is not a good environment to put fresh cookie dough. You can quickly reuse a hot baking sheet by running it under cold water, sticking it in the fridge for a few minutes, or putting it on top of some ice packs (just don’t get it TOO cold). Once it’s completely cool, resume baking!
Good luck, all ye wannabe bakers! One final tip: In order to get evenly sized cookie dough balls, use a melon baller
or a mini ice cream scooper
. Now, if your cookies come out as photo-worthy as promised, I demand you mail me some. I prefer Oatmeal Chocolate Chip.