Cookies come in such a variety of types, kinds, and sizes that they will fit almost any occasions. Directions are usually easy to follow so that an amateur can easily enjoy good results.
As with any baking that you do, remember that the different kinds of flour and different brands of margarine’s and shortenings can give you considerably different results. It is simplest to find a good brand that works well for you, and then stick with it.
Bar cookies are usually the easiest and quickest way to make cookies, since they do not require additional time for dropping or cutting out. They are baked in a pan much like a cake, and are cut into bars when partially cooled.
Drop cookies are made from a dough, and are usually dropped or pushed from a spoon with rubber scraper onto a cookie sheet. Cookies should be placed at least one inch apart on a cookie sheet to allow for spreading during baking. To minimize spreading , dough may be chilled before baking.
Cookies should be baked on sheets rather than pans with tall sides which would hinder the heat from flowing evenly throughout the cookies. Baking sheets should be cold when cookies are placed on it so they will not melt down and spread too much during baking.
To speed up the process if you have only one baking sheet, cut two sheets of foil to fit the baking sheet. Place cookies on the foil and slide the baking sheet under it to bake. Fill the second sheet of foil with cookies while the other one is baking. To remove the baked cookies, simply slide the foil and cookies onto a rack to cool slightly. Slip baking sheet under second batch of cookies and return to oven. Remove baked cookies from foil and reuse for the next batch. If you like soft cookies, do not over bake them. Remove from oven when they are barely set. Over baked cookies are hard and crumbly.
Rolled cookies take the most time, but are great for decorating on special occasions. The dough must be chilled at least an hour for successful handling without adding too much flour to the dough. Too much flour makes dry, hard cookies. Rolling too thin or baking too long also makes dry cookies. If you like a softer cookie, roll to a scant 1/4 inch thickness, and bake just until set.
Cookies may be iced and decorated after baking. While icing is soft, colored sugar, candies, or sprinkles may be added to decorate cookies.
When baking cookies, make sure to have your oven preheated at least 10 minutes before baking. . If you find your cookies to be usually pale and soft or your cookies seem to brown too quickly, it’s likely the fault of your oven. Having proper oven temperature will dramatically improve the quality of your cookies.
Listen to your intuition when baking. Start checking on your cookies at the minimum baking time to ensure you don’t over-cook or even burn them. If you prefer soft cookies, cook only to the minimum time. If you prefer your cookies to be browned with slightly crisp edges, cook a little longer.
When mixing up dough for baking cookies, be sure to be very accurate when measuring out ingredients. Look back at the chapter on measuring accurately.
If you want a chewier cookie, instead of flatter, chill the dough for a few hours or overnight. When ready to bake, just take the dough out of the refrigerator and scoop it onto a cookie sheet.