There are essentially only six types of cookies. These are bars, refrigerator cookies, drop cookies, molded cookies, pressed cookies and rolled cookies. Chewy cookies are often the bars and dropped cookies.
The others usually produce a crisp or crunchy cookie, although there are exceptions Drop cookies are also, perhaps, the quickest and easiest to make and can include both varieties. Crunchy peanut butter or chewy chocolate chip for example.
The perfect cookie should have a good flavor and texture with a tender crumb unless it is a crispy variety. Either way, the color and shape should be uniform.
When you are ready to bake cookies here are some tips to help.
Select pans of the proper size and shape. Cookie sheets or pans should be shiny and at least one inch smaller that the oven to allow for proper circulation of heat to ensure even baking. If your pan is too large your cookies will burn on the bottom. Avoid using pans with sides. It this is all you have, turn the pan upside down and bake on the bottom, unless of course you are using a bar cookie recipe which requires sides. Sides reduce the flow of hot air and can result in burned or under cooked cookies.
Use a spatula or pan-cake turner to remove cookies to wire racks for cooling. Be sure to keep the family out of the kitchen or you may turn around and discover the cookies are gone. I have often had to make an additional batch of cookies because the kids could not resist those warm from the oven delicacies.
For rolled cookies you can cover the rolling pin with a pastry cloth or pastry cloth stocking. If you don’t have these you can put flour on the pin and board to prevent sticking. You can try a mixture of one part sugar and two parts flour if the dough is sticky. Use only a lassana portion of the dough that can be handled easily. Keep the remaining dough in the refrigerator until ready to roll it out.Dipping the cookie cutter or knife in flour is also a helpful tip to keep in mind when working with sticky rolled dough.
Use of an alarm clock or kitchen timer will also help you bake perfect cookies. When the phone rings you can easily lose track of those important minutes. I can’t count how many trays of cookies have been burned because of a phone call, someone at the door, of a child in need of attention. Sometimes it is the timer that will remind you when your attention is drawn elsewhere. It happens.
Always preheat the oven to ensure your cookies bake evenly and avoid peeking. Every look releases heat and lowers the temperature causing uneven browning. If you accurately watch the timing of the first batch you can cook following batches without peeking.
Store cooled cookies in a covered container or cookie jar. A slice or two of apple will keep moist cookies chewy but keep them in the refrigerator to prevent spoiling. Crunchy cookies will stay fresh longer if you tuck in a slice of bread.The bread absorbs the humidity that can cause them to get soft. You can use an air tight tin for this type. You should not store the two different types together. If your crisp cookies become soft you can place them on a cookie sheet in a 300 degree oven for a few minutes to restore the crispness.
To make your cookie baking go smoothly follow these simple steps.
1. Heat the oven
2. Assemble all ingredients. Sift the dry ingredients together and if your recipe calls for melted chocolate, get it melted and ready.
3. Set out eggs about 20 minutes before you begin baking. They should be at room temperature. If you forget, you can place them in a small bowl of very warm but not hot water for a few minutes.
4. Prepare your cookie sheets or pans and set out your cooling racks.
5. If using fruit or nuts, chop or other wise prepare them first. Drain canned fruit or thaw frozen fruit.
6. Now you are ready to mix and bake your cookies.
While this seems a bit tedious, you will be glad you took the extra time, especially during the holiday baking season when you are apt to bake many more varieties of cookies. Attending cookie exchanging or giving cookies as gifts can be a snap. Just set aside one day to devote to your baking and you will have enough cookies to last the season.