Monday, November 30, 2009

Cookie Know-How

I thought that before I started posting some recipes, that I would go through Christmas baking tips!
First of all, in order to make 15 different kinds, one must use the bake and freeze method. I start about 2 weeks before Thanksgiving and when I defrost the cookies at Christmas, they still taste very fresh!
Here is my best friend during cookie season:

A few years ago when my baking really took off, I quickly realized that my normal freezer didn't have nearly enough room. So...we got this one at Sam's Club. It is very basic, but gets the job done!

Here she is, with what I have made so far:

The containers on the left side are Rubbermaid Takealongs. I usually get them at Wal-Mart and they work great for stacking in the freezer. Whatever containers you use, just be sure they have a good seal.

Here is one with the 5 Layer bars I just made:

What I do is as I make a batch of cookies, I layer them in the container with wax paper between the layers. They go right in the freezer before they can get eaten. :) When I want to make up a tin, the night before I want to deliver it, I open each of the containers and take out 1-2 of each cookie. I put that bunch in a big tupperware on the counter to thaw. The next day the cookies are ready to go! I pack them in a tin, tie a ribbon around the tin, and they are ready to deliver!! I deliver tins to neighbors, family, my husband's work, etc.

As far as the baking goes, I have a very basic oven, nothing fancy. I would love a big fancy one, but well....that ain't gonna happen! :) Here she is:

See? Nothing fancy. It does have a convection feature that I use for baking cookies which helps them to bake evenly, eliminating the need to rotate the baking sheet halfway through.

Here are some of my baking tips:
- Line your baking sheets with parchment paper. The cookies will come right off without any sticking and your sheets will be a cinch to clean.
- Use light-colored baking sheets. The darker ones will produce cookies that are too dark.
- No need for expensive baking sheets. I got great ones for $10 each at Home Goods. Just be sure they are big enough and light-colored.
- Check your cookies a few minutes before the time called for, especially the first batch. Different ovens can cook VERY differently. Cookies that take 10 min in my oven may only take 8 in yours. Nothin' worse than a burnt cookie!
- Buy a cheap oven thermometer and check your oven temp. You may be surprised that although your oven may be set to 350, it may actually be 375, or 325...always good to know!
- You must taste at least one cookie from every is very necessary. ;)
- I use a small scooper for drop cookies. It just makes life easier. I got mine at Wal-Mart.
- Stand mixers are not a necessity, but make life easier.

O.k...please let me know if there are any questions about my technique.

Next! Some of these cookies are so good they'll make ya want to smack your mama!


Suzanne said...

I have been looking forward to this post - thanks for all the tips! I can see how the extra freezer is necessary for this project. Leaving the cookies out to thaw overnight is good to know too. I just got started baking this weekend, but I also don't have an extra freezer (yet!) so I can't store as many cookies.

Heather said...

Great tips! We do all our baking as a family the weekend before Christmas, and it is a blast.

I LOVE my stand up Kitchen Aid mixer - it got a workout the night before Thanksgiving. :)

ShutUpandRun said...

I love the scooper idea!!

Pam said...

How come I never get a tin of cookies?

greentigress said...

I am going to opt out incase i gain an extra 10lbs!!

Laurel @ Ducks in a Row said...

WOW - 15 different types - I'd love to do something like this. We only get about 6 and I have to make a different batch every day and wrap and deliver on the weekend. Your method seems so do-able! Thanks.

lifestudent said...

I cant believe you have a whole extra freezer just for cookies. That is dedication :)

Shannon said...

Wow! That is a lot of cookies! But those are great tips!

somebody said...