'Tis the season for cookie baking, which means it's high time we remind you of the tenets of making sweet treats that our food editors bake by. These six tips will help you turn out batch upon batch of perfect, delectable Christmas cookies for cookie swaps, gifting, office treats, and personal consumption.
Be Prepared Before You Start
Always read the recipe through and assemble all ingredients before you begin, rather than starting the recipe and searching for ingredients as you go. This is what cooks and bakers call mis-en-place.
Put dry and liquid ingredients in the correct cups: dipper-style for dry, clear pitchers for wet. Though a dry measuring cup looks like a scoop, don't use it that way—flours will get too compacted. Instead, spoon them in, piled above the rim, and sweep the top with a knife or offset spatula to level it.
Whether they are making cookies or cooking eggs sunnyside up, our food editors prefer hitting the shell against the flat surface of the counter rather than cracking it against a bowl or a pan. Cracking an egg on a flat surface creates an even break that's easy to pull apart, reducing the risk of getting pieces of shell in the egg. Another egg tip: Open the eggs one at a time over a small bowl, then transfer them to a large bowl with other eggs to further reduce any chance of mishaps.
Respect the Room Temperature Rule
The secret to perfectly mixed cookie dough is leaving eggs and butter out in advance and letting them come to room temperature In a pinch, place eggs in a bowl of warm (not boiling) water for a few minutes until they no longer feel cool to the touch; you can microwave butter on low power in five-second increments, flipping it from side to side each time, until soft.
Keep Them the Same Size
When all cookies are the same size, they will bake more evenly. The easiest way to get evenly sized drop cookies is to use a cookie scoop ($39.99 for a set of 3, amazon.com), which is similar to an ice cream scoop.
Ensure Even Baking
To turn out uniform batches and no pale or burnt outliers: Halfway through baking time, swap baking sheets (when using more than one at a time) from top rack to bottom and vice versa, and rotate each one from back to front.