Whether you're making chocolate chip, peanut putter blossom, sugar or gingerbread cookies, these five helpful tips will help ensure your cookies have the best texture and flavor.
# 1 - Use Real, Expensive Vanilla
Fork over the dough and invest in a nice bottle of high-quality Madagascar stuff. Nielsen-Massey and J.R. Watkins both make great bourbon vanilla extracts that'll do the trick.
# 2 - Go with Butter
Long gone (and thankfully so) are the days of margarine. Butter has the right amount of fat and flavor for all the classic cookie recipes. So, unless a recipe expressly calls for margarine or shortening, go with unsalted butter for great flavor, color and texture. If margarine is called for, use regular, not low-fat margarine. Low-fat margarines will have more water which can put a damper on your cookie dough.
# 3 - Use Liquid and Dry Measuring Cups
Measure brown sugar in your Pyrex measuring cup and your measurements won't be accurate. Dry measuring cups are those stackable ones, usually made of plastic or stainless steel, while liquid measuring cups tend to be clear. In case you're wondering, measuring spoons work equally well for both wet and dry ingredients.
# 4 - Cream Well
Creaming your butter and sugar well is the foundation of a cookie with perfect texture and taste. Creaming aerates the dough, creating tiny air bubbles that are evenly distributed along the cookie's interior. If you're using a KitchenAid mixer, opt for the paddle attachment. I prefer to cream the butter and sugar by hand using the back of a wooden spoon and a glass bowl. Start with room-temperature butter. Add sugar and press that into the butter against the side of the bowl. You're basically smooshing the sugar into the butter, then folding it until you get a nice uniform mix of butter-sugar with a rather light texture. For more how-to, watch this video.
# 5 - Buy Fresh Baking Powder and Baking Soda
Don't remember when you bought that box of baking soda? Relegate it to the role of cleaning product and spend the $2-3 it'll cost you for a fresh box. Do the same with your baking powder and you won't have to wonder what went wrong. These chemical rising agents have a very short shelf life and should be replaced every six months. All those other cookie ingredients, the sugar, chocolate and butter can add up. Stocking fresh baking powder and soda will can save you lots of dollars, cents and wasted time. * I always buy mine from a busy grocery since yes, these can get stale on the shelf!
Bonus - Room Temp is the Standard
In case you didn't know it, all baking recipes, unless otherwise stated, call for room temperature butter and eggs. So, leave that butter out to soften overnight. For eggs, take the out of the fridge an hour before using or warm them in a bath of warm water for 5-10 minutes. One final bit of advice: add each egg one at a time. Doing so will better distribute the protein and fat into the dough and give you a better batch of cookies!
Enjoy! I know I sure will!