Common Mistakes of Cookie-Baking Rookies

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I thought I had it covered. I had been baking cookies with my aunt since I was a little girl. I was ready to be that cookie-baking June Cleaver when my first child was born. But, doing it on my own wasn’t as easy as I’d thought. First off, the only cookie recipe I had was the one off of the chocolate chip bag. Definitely great for starters. However, I soon learned that there are many better fish in the cookie recipe sea. So, now, as a professional mother and cookie baking maniac, here are some of the tips I’ve gleaned from personal experience:

  1. Start with a really good cookie recipe. How will you know it’s good? First of all, it should contain some of the other components listed later on. A good place to start are religious-affiliated cook books. The Mennonite and Amish often have the best.
  2. Turn the heat down. Most cookie recipes call for baking at 375 degrees. However, I’ve found that baking at 350 degrees for a longer time has better results.
  3. That said, even with a lower temperature…know when to pull the cookies out of the oven. Cookies left on the hot cookie sheet will continue to bake as they sit. I recommend pulling them out when they have just started to turn partially golden.
  4. For the most part cookies that are shortening-based will plump up better than those that are butter/margarine based.
  5. However, if you decide to go the butter/margarine route, make sure you don’t over-soften the butter. I’ve been there before. Your ready to make cookies, you don’t have a lot of time, but you forgot to set the butter out to soften. You pop it in the microwave, pull it out, and plunk a glob of gooey half-melted butter in the bowl and mix away. The microwave shortcut is fine, but take it slow. Start with only a few seconds, and pull out the butter before any of it has a chance to melt. Otherwise, you’ll be left with flat cookies.
  6. The number one culprit of flat cookies…not enough flour. You don’t want cardboard blobs for your afternoon snack, but make sure that you’ve added enough flour to keep the dough from being sticky.
  7. Lastly, but not least, dough usually yields better cookies the first time around. You can successfully freeze cookie dough for later. But, in my experience it just doesn’t turn out quite as good the next time around.

Start small with chocolate chip or oatmeal cookies and follow these guidelines. Before you know it, you’ll be branching out to chocolate chip pumpkin and breakfast cookies!

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