How to Bake Perfect Cookies in 6 Simple Steps

Say good-bye to flat cookies!

Adios to ugly ones!

And hello to evenly baked!

It’s officially the week before Christmas! This means LOTS of cookie baking, party planning and gift wrapping. With so much going on this week the last thing you want to worry about is having to re-bake a batch of burnt or flat cookies!

I’ve come up with six easy tips to keep the happy in ‘happy holidays’ without the fuss of messy cookies!

1. Check your oven temperature.

If your oven isn’t accurate, your baking time isn’t accurate. You can follow a recipe absolutely perfectly, but if your oven isn’t the right temperature you might botch the baking time.

This is super easy to fix. Just put an oven thermometer in your oven and set the oven temp to 350 degrees. When your oven shows that its preheated to 350, check the oven thermometer inside the oven to see if it also reads 350. If your oven is off just compensate by adjusting your oven to either cooler or warmer to match the oven thermometer.

-For example, if your oven says its at 350 degrees but your oven thermometer reads 400, you need to adjust your oven temperature by decreasing the heat to 300. Now your oven is truly at 350 degrees when you bake.

2. Do not over-soften your butter.

I know its tempting to throw your butter into the microwave when a recipe calls for butter at ‘room temperature’. I do it too! Its hard to remember to take butter out of the fridge in the morning on days you need to bake. Just be careful! Very careful.

You don’t want to accidentally heat the butter to the point where any of it is melted into a liquid. When you ‘over-soften’ butter it messes with the consistency of the cookie. Melted butter hinders sugar from creating air pockets- thus fluffy cookies. Instead you get a denser, flatter cookie.

The best way to do is this the hard way- remember to take the butter out in the morning if you’re baking in the afternoon. But we’re all tech savvy by now, right? Just set a cellphone alarm…or write it on your hand.

OR soften the butter VERY slowly in the microwave. I always turn the heat percentage on my microwave down to 10% and soften for 10 seconds, rotating the butter stick halfway through. Repeat until you can can press a soft indent with your finger onto the top of the stick.

3. When a recipe says ‘cream the butter until light and fluffy’… do it. 

Creaming the butter is what creates air pockets in the dough and gives you that fluffy consistency (notice how this all goes together… you need well softened butter to cream the butter right). This usually takes one to a few minutes to do. You’ll know when its done when your dough’s color lightens and the batter looks softer and lighter.

4. Use an ice-cream scoop to spoon your cookies onto the baking sheet.

This ensures your cookies are all the same size. Same size cookie dough equals consistent cookies! This way you don’t end up with half your cookies burnt and the other half undercooked. Also, your cookies will be b-ea-u-ti-ful! The scoop makes uniform balls that bake into even and pretty circular cookies. Check out my Jam Thumbprint Cookies to see an example.

(You can get these at pretty much any kitchenware store, Target, Wal-mart, etc. I got mine at Williams-Sonoma)

5. Invest in some silicone baking mats. 

I know its kind of a pain in the butt, but seriously these are awesome. You get even cookies that don’t stick to the pan… EVER. So oo worth it. If you don’t feel like splurging now, just wait for the sales after Christmas and pick up a couple for next year. I use these every time I bake cookies and I’ve never had to mess with a cookie stuck to my pan since!

(You can buy these at any kitchen ware store, I bought mine at Williams-Sonoma)

6. Rotate your baking sheets halfway through the baking time. 

Even if you just bought the newest more tricked out oven, chances are the heat is not always even throughout. To compensate just rotate your baking sheets halfway through so all cookies are baked at the same temperature. This way you won’t have burnt cookies in the back and perfectly cooked ones in the front.

Follow these easy tips and start drinking those cranberry cocktails for fun! And not because you just burnt the ninth batch of sugar cookies…