Tips to Make Your Christmas Cookies Better

The Christmas cookie baking season is here. Whether you start early and freeze batches of cookies to pull out for the holiday celebrations or wait until the last minute to serve oven-fresh cookies, here are some tips to make your cookies better than ever.

Assemble Ingredients

Make a list of cookies that you’d like to bake. Then, make a list of ingredients that you’ll need. This is the time to shop at bulk or discount stores to get basic cookie-making ingredients. Flour, sugar, brown sugar, baking powder and butter can be purchased for less when buying in bulk.

Use Real Butter

Many a cookie has been ruined by margarine. Cookies were meant to be made with real, sweat cream butter. Butter adds a texture and a flavor to cookies that margarine can’t imitate. Choose either salted or unsalted butter. If you use salted butter, you can skip adding salt to most cookie recipes.

Avoid Non-Stick Cookie Sheets

Dark-coated cookie sheets heat faster and will lead to dark-bottomed cookies. Some cookies even get burned on the bottom when a dark sheet is used. Because cookies have a high butter content, they don’t stick to the cookie sheet. A non-stick cookie sheet is not necessary.

Sift Baking Soda

Sometimes a box of baking soda that’s been opened for more than a few weeks gets clumps. Always sift baking soda before adding it to any recipe. The clumps generally don’t break up and stir into the mixture easily. There is nothing worse than taking a bite of a fresh baked cookie with a clump of unmixed baking soda. It is bitter and unpleasant.

Use Real Vanilla Flavoring

Baked good tastes better when real vanilla flavoring is used. Imitation flavoring is less expensive, but it doesn’t add the same depth of taste as real vanilla flavoring.

Use Good Quality Chocolate

When a cookie recipe calls for chocolate chips or chocolate that will be melted, use the best quality that you can afford. Ghirardelli chocolate is a good quality chocolate, is not filled with extra additives and is readily available for most baking needs. Poor quality chocolate will often taste waxy.

Keep Cookies Small

Small, consistently-sized cookies are just the right size for those that just want a taste. Guests and other cookie-eaters will feel compelled to sample more than one type of cookie when they are small enough to be eaten in one or two bites. Keep them a consistent size by using a small kitchen scoop, such as a melon baller. A teaspoon will also work to scoop the same amount of dough onto the cookie sheet for each cookie. A regular batch of cookies will produce twice as many small cookies as large-sized cookies.

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