SOFTENED BUTTER (NOT MELTED) is important for many types of cookies. Creaming it in the first steps of the recipe incorporates air into your cookie and also helps the butter mix evenly. Forgot to remove it from the fridge to soften? Two options. First option is to cut your butter into 1⁄2 tbsp. portions and leave on your counter for appx. 30 minutes while you gather and measure out the rest of your ingredients. The other option is to cut the butter in half and microwave on 10% power in two 30-second intervals.
BUTTER IN YOUR DOUGH CAN CONTINUE TO SOFTEN, especially in a warm kitchen. This will cause your cookies to spread more. To prevent this from happening, refrigerate your dough for 10–15 minutes before baking and remove portions just before baking.
GONE TOO FAR? Melted butter needs to be chilled very quickly in order to work in a baking recipe. Stir large ice cubes around in the melted butter for less than a minute to chill the butter quickly back to a softened state. The amount of water melted into the butter during this process is negligible.
• For a smooth glaze over sugar cookies, spread glaze in an even layer using the back of a spoon.
• Run a fluted pastry wheel over an unbaked cookie for pretty texture – works great for making Christmas trees look like they have garland.
• Baking soda as a leavener starts reacting as soon as it is wet, so there is a time limit on how long it will make cookies rise. Baking powder reacts twice as a leavener, when it is becomes wet and again when it is heated.
• Cookie dough made with baking powder can be made up to 7 days ahead and removed from the refrigerator to bake while cookie dough made with baking soda should be used within 2 days.
• OVER-BAKE YOUR COOKIES? Although there is no remedy for burnt cookies, remember that cookies continue to bake after being removed from the oven. If you’ve allowed your cookies to bake a few minutes too long, remove them immediately from the warm cookie sheet and carefully transfer to a wire rack. If you really like soft cookies, remove your cookies from the oven before they are completely done and let your hot cookie sheet help with the carryover baking. This will give you the softest possible results while still being thoroughly cooked in the middle.
• Rotate cookie sheet during baking for even browning. If using 2 cookie sheets at once, their placement on the different level racks should be rotated as well.
• NO BROWN SUGAR? Use 1 tbsp. molasses mixed into 1 cup granulated sugar as a substitute for light brown sugar or 2 tbsp. per cup as a substitute for dark brown sugar.
• To prevent your cookies from baking together, bake in staggered rows.
• To avoid overly crisp edges, use chilled dough and a cool baking sheet (not one that is already warm from the oven).
• USING FROZEN HOMEMADE COOKIE DOUGH? Place dough portions on cookie sheet and allow to defrost for about 20–60 minutes. Then bake as directed. (They may require an additional few minutes of bake time.)