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Rule No. 1: Pick the Right Cookie
Are your cookies being mailed? Are they for a cookie swap? No nut allergies, right? Do they need to impress the kids or an office? If you’re mailing the batch, skip fragile options such as lacy Florentines or anything frosted — and don’t forget the bubble wrap! If they’re bound for the classroom, be aware of any food allergies and opt for colorful options, like linzer cookies or good ol’ fashioned sugar cookies dusted with sprinkles — or even edible glitter! If trading at a cookie swap, stick to a recipe that is easily doubled (or tripled) and packs easily.
By Teri Tsang Barrett
Rule No. 2: Know Your Audience
If making a batch for the office or a hostess present, stick with a classic that’s easily identified, packed and consumed — think sugar cookies decorated with a holiday motif. If hosting a holiday party, now’s the time to go all-out. Decorate with frosting or dragees, or make a batch of delicate tuiles — whatever your cookie-heart desires.
Rule No. 3: Use the Right Measuring Tools
Dry ingredients, such as flour or sugar, should be measured using a dry measuring cup and leveled off for an accurate measurement; with the exception of brown sugar, do not pack in ingredients unless specified. Liquid measurements, such as maple syrup or milk, should be measured using a liquid measuring cup, typically glass and with a spout. Let the liquid settle in the cup after pouring to ensure that it hits the right mark.
Rule No. 4: Check Expiration Dates on Baking Powder and Baking Soda
If they’ve expired, you run the risk of cookies that won’t rise. Test the baking powder by mixing a small spoonful with hot water — it should bubble up if it’s still effective. Test baking soda by mixing some with vinegar or lemon juice on a small spoonful — it should also bubble up if still effective.
Rule No. 5: Use an Oven Thermometer
Baking at too high or low a temperature can result in a scorched cookie bottom or a too-browned cookie top.
Rule No. 6: Use Parchment Paper or a Silicone Baking Mat to Line the Cookie Sheet
The color or coating on a cookie sheet can affect the color of the cookie bottoms. Lining the cookie sheet not only simplifies removing the cookie, but it helps with even, consistent browning on the bottom of the cookies.
Rule No. 7: Use a Cool Baking Sheet
Give baking sheets time to cool off in between batches to prevent cookie dough from melting upon contact, before its time in the oven.
Rule No. 8: Cookies Will Continue Baking Outside of the Oven
Most cookies spend some time cooling on the hot baking sheet outside of the oven to set up, so remove them from the oven when they look just done.
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