Cookie Tips for The Best Cookies

BY HELEN S. FLETCHER, ON
COPYRIGHT, HELEN S. FLETCHER, 2021. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
ALL PHOTOS BY PASTRIES LIKE A PRO UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED.

Peppermint Ravioli CookiesThese Cookie  Tips come during  cookie baking season to help you get your best cookies ever but they are good all year long.   These are things I’ve thought of while making cookies myself.  Some are old, some new but I hope you will find a few that will help.  These Peppermint Ravoli Cookies are an ideal example of a perfect cookie with a surprise inside.

Ensuring all cookies have chips or other add ins

Save some chips or add ins until the last of the cookies are being dropped.  Often, add ins at the end of the dough are sparse.  Holding a couple of tablespoons out will solve this problem.  Just stir them in at the end and finish dropping

Piping stiff doughs

This cookie tip is especially helpful if you are piping a heavy dough that is rather stiff and is hard to push out.   Place in a microwavable container only as much dough as you an pipe at once and microwave it very briefly – 5 to 10 seconds for a half filled bag . Do not soften too much or it will change the texture of the cookies.   Chill the cookies before they are baked.  We used this technique with the Anise Swirls to great advantage at the bakery.  One other thing, don’t fill your piping bag too much.  The fuller it is the more difficult it is to pipe.  Anise Swirls for Cookie Tips

Uniform Piped Cookies

If piping cookies, keep them uniform in size by making templates. Draw circles on parchment preferably with a sharpie or other dark marker.  Place the parchment in a baking pan and top it with another piece of parchment. Pipe the cookies.  REMOVE THE TEMPLATE.  (This is the part I always forget until I have to retrieve the cookies from the oven so I can use it again.)

I mark my templates for whatever I used them and store them to be used again.  I store mine between 2 half sheet corrugated baking pads to keep them flat.  They can also be rolled up.  Just try not to fold them if at all possible or they won’t lie flat when you need them.Cookie template

Cookie Tips For the Best Cut Out Cookies

See Cut Out Cookies using the Wax Paper Technique.  The photo below is for Murbteig Cookies from my childhood.  Murbteig Cookies

Stamped Cookies

If making stamped cookies, shape the raw dough slightly smaller than the finished unbaked cookie since stamping it will cause it to spread slightly as for these Lemon butter Crisps.Lemon Butter Crisps

To Keep Cookies from Excess Spreading

Cookies heavy in butter should be chilled before going into the oven to prevent them from spreading too much.  This is especially important if the you want them to retain their shape.

Cookies spread more on pans coated with non-stick baking sprays or butter so use parchment paper instead.  The cookies will release but will not spread as much.

These Chocolate Dipped Sweet and Salty Butter Cookies are a good example of not spreading.  The recipe is designed for little spreading and the chilled rolls are cut and immediately baked. Sweet and Salty Butter Cookies

Why Double Pan

Here is another cookie tip when using brown sugar, honey, molasses, dark corn syrup, chocolate or cocoa.  They will bake up better if they are double panned.  This slows the heat to the bottom of the cookies so they won’t burn before the cookies are baked  so the cookies will take a few more minutes to bake.  Below are the Chocolate Spice Olive Oil Biscotti.  Double-panning for Cookie tips

More Cookies to a Tray

To get more cookies on a tray, flag or stagger them. (There is no recipe for these.)Flagged Cookies

Best Pans to Bake Cookies

Light colored aluminum baking sheets that are not thin do the best job of uniformly baking cookies. Dark baking sheets and pans absorb more heat than light colored ones and brown products too quickly, often before the insides are done.

I use half sheet pans at home and line them with parchment paper.  Pictured below are quarter sheet, jelly roll, and half sheet baking pans.  For more information on sheet pans go here.

Sheet pans for baking cookies

All Important Butter

There are three posts on this blog releative to butter including how to soften butter without over doing it.  Please see American Butter vs. European Butter, Better Butter for Baking, and Softened Butter

Measuring Equipment

One cookie tip that is often overlooked is the need to carefully measure just as any baking does.  To that end, I will mention my strongest recommendation that ingredients be weighed. Volume measurements are not as accurate which is why I list ingredients in grams and ounces as well as volume.  Scales are very inexpensive now and should be in any kitchen where someone bakes.

However, dry measures without a lip and wet measures with a lip as well as measuring spoons are also necessary.  A simple scale is all that is needed.

Measuring equipment

Mixing Cookie Doughs

If a butter and sugar mixture curdles or breaks when adding the eggs, raise the speed of the mixer. If that doesn’t work, adding the flour will so there is no need to be concerned.

Mix the flour in on low to keep the gluten from activating creating a dense cookie.

Uniform Drop Cookies

For uniform drop cookies use disher/scoopers.  These are used widely in professional kitchens to make sure cookies are the same size and bake evenly.  Often called cookie scoops, they come in a number of sizes.  Below is a chart.  I find my most used dishers/scoopers for cookies are numbers 100, 70, 60, and 40.  For monster cookies I use #40.  The larger the number of the disher/scoopers the smaller the amount it will hold.

Disher/scoopers for Cookie Tips

Numbers and Sizes of Disher/Scoopers

Numbers and Sizes of Disher/Scoopers
Number of disher/scooper Approx. Tablespoon or Teaspoons or cups Fluid Ounce
100 2 teaspoons 0.25
70 2 3/4 teaspoons 0.375
60 1 tablespoon 0 .5
50 4 teaspoons 0.625
40 1 1/2 tablespoons 0.75
30 2 1/4 tablespoons 0.1.125
24 3 tablespoons 1.5
20 3 1/2 tablespoons 1.875
16 1/4 cup 2
14 1/3 cup 2.375
12 1/3 + cups 2.875
10 3/8 cup 3.25
8 1/2 cup 3.75
6 5/8 cup 4.75
5 3/4 cup 6.0
4 1 cup 8.0

Cutting Nuts

Often I have to buy nuts that are whole,  halves or halves and pieces which are larger than I want for cookies.

By and large, unless I am pulverizing nuts, I don’t like to use the processor to cut nuts.  They inevitably have a lot of powdered nuts which aren’t the same as nuts cut by hand.  But I also don’t like cutting nuts by hand. Picky –  I know.  So the solution I found was after toasting and cooling to lay the nuts  in a single layer.Large NutsThen take a meat tenderizer or small pan or skillet and just whack ‘em. Smashing nutsNot small enough?  Hit ‘em again.  So fast and perfect for cookies.

Using a Food Processor

If you use a food processor when baking, my Food Processor Tips When Baking has a lot of information that is useful.  I was a consultant to Cuisinart when the company was fairly new.  I learned a lot then and have developed more tips since.  I’ll bet you’ll learn at least a thing or two.

Pastry has not only been my profession, but my passion. If there is anything in particular you would like to see or any questions about baking or pastry, please let me know. Be sure to subscribe so you don't miss a post!
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8 thoughts on “Cookie Tips for The Best Cookies

  1. Joan R Nemirow

    Good Morning Ms. Fletcher. I am so glad that I found you. Maida Heatter had been my baking guru since 1969 but I just found your website and I look forward to following you. Cook’s Illustrated has recently focused on a Cranberry curd tart. When searching the web for more info about it, I found your site and recipe from 2014! It is fabulous! The chocolate cookie crust is delish. The filling is yummy! I did strain it! But your ganache topping appears to have incorrect proportions. Your ingredients say 2/3 cup of heavy cream to 2 1/2 ounces of chocolate. That makes a thin chocolate milk! topping. I doubled the chocolate and it made a wonderfully pourable glaze. I made this as a birthday cake for someone who loves curd tarts. (Since I made a mini one too, I can tell you IT IS FABULOUS.)
    I look forward to reading all of your past posts.
    Thank you so much for an excellent teaching site with clear pictures and descriptions.
    Joan Nemirow

    1. hfletcher Post author

      Hi Joan, Thank you so much for pointing out that error. You were entirely correct to double the chocolate. I’m not sure why I reduced it by half. The amazing part is that recipe is the most popular Thanksgivig recipes on my site. Literally thousands of people go to the blog to find it. And yet,no one has ever said anything. I corrected it immediately and wanted you to know that I value your input and welcome you to the blog. I love teaching and sharing what I have learned as a professional all these years. Stay safe and thank you again.

    1. hfletcher Post author

      Thanks Sally, It’s cookie season for sure. We have a little tree this year that I am decorating with all decorated cookies. So I thought I’d pass along some things I do to make it easier.

  2. Sondra Niederhauser

    Thank you for the sizes of cookie scoops. This will definitely come in handy. Thank you for sharing your knowledge. It really helps me be a better baker. Now I just need to plan some cookie baking!

    1. hfletcher Post author

      Hi Sondra – At the bakery we used disher/scoopers a lot. In fact for the ones constantly in use we had two. I think they are one of the most under rated tools in the kitchen. Useful for so much. For sure make your cookie plans. Everyone loves cookies!

  3. Shary Fellows

    Thank you. This post was brimming with useful information and just in time for holiday cookie baking.

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