Everybody likes, or loves, freshly baked cookies. From store-bought dough, or recipes, fresh, warm cookies are always yummy. With milk, or by themselves, fresh-baked cookies can cause a compulsion to bake. Cookies from a bag are good, but are missing that hot, gooey aroma that fills the air with delightful memories of Grandma, and childhood bliss. The problem is that best conventional home ovens, electric, or gas, are terrible at baking cookies. Half of the time you’re stuck with an entire panful of scorched, horrible cookies, that the dog won’t even eat. I work in food service, and the commercial convection ovens I am privy to, make awesome cookies. I have compiled several tips to help make better cookies at home.
- Pre-heat. Conventional ovens commonly heat from the bottom. They use a thermostat to regulate temperature. If you turn on the oven and set the temperature, then promptly place a batch of cookies inside, they will burn. Every time. Here’s why. Since the oven is mostly metal, and cold, the burner, or heating element will remain at full until the heat-sensing thermostat apparatus reaches the desired heat setting. This full-on heat from below overheats the bottom of the pan before the tops get done. A properly pre-heated oven has been on long enough to heat all of the metal parts, and begun cycling the burner on, and off. This process takes 15-20 minutes. Good things come to those who wait! To lessen the likelihood of scorching, pre-heating to 400 degrees, until cycling begins, then cutting to 325 degrees, just before baking, improves cookies. This gives a more even all-around heat, without the burner blazing underneath.
- Use parchment pan liners. These are available at most supermarkets, usually in the foil and waxed-paper section. Look for a roll, similar to a box of foil. Parchment pan liners make for a huge improvement in cookie-baking. The cookies don’t stick, and are less likely to scorch. When you are done, cleanup is as simple as throwing away the liner, and putting the clean cookie sheet back up in the cupboard. Pan liners are awesome.
- Be vigilant! Watch those cookies! When the tops begin to form tiny cracks, they are done. Perfect cookies look a little bit raw when done. They will lose this gloss upon cooling. It is the melted butter steaming out. Pull them out! Unless you like the crispy crunch of a over-cooked cookie. If crunchy is what you want, just buy a bag of chips ahoy. We are baking to get a hot, mouth-watering ooey-gooey, soft in the middle, perfect cookie!
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