Once you add flour, keep the mixing to a minimum. After adding flour, every extra second spent beating your dough activates more gluten, which means tougher cookies. The key to not overmixing your cookie dough? Use a silicone spatula or wooden spoon to stir in your mix-ins (like chocolate chips, nuts, or sprinkles) by hand so you don’t overwork the dough.
Use a sifter to lightly dust flour onto your surface before rolling out dough. Sifting the flour instead of throwing it onto the surface ensures that you don’t add too much. Excess flour on the surface will stick to your dough and lead to tough, dry cookies. In addition, you can use your sifter to dust your bars and cookies with a snowy layer of confectioners’ sugar—instant elegance!
This handy tool allows you to scoop and drop consistently sized dough balls with ease and precision. Uniform cookies bake evenly—it’s as simple as that.
Tender doughs require a lighter touch than bread dough. Opt for a slim, wooden French pin. They’re easier to maneuver than marble pins, and they apply delicate pressure to your cookie dough. Remember to rub it down with flour before using on particularly buttery dough in order to keep it from sticking during roll out.
This math class essential can help you measure the thickness of cookie dough when you’re rolling it out so you always have evenly sized cookies. It’ll also help you properly divide up your dough when rolling out, slicing, or splitting it up into triangles (like the way you would cut rugelach dough).
Whether round, square, scalloped, or snowflake-shaped, a good cookie cutter should be made of a sturdy material like metal so it punches cleanly through your dough without catching or getting dented with the constant force of pressing.
You’ll want to invest in light-colored baking sheets to ensure even cooking. (We like Williams Sonoma Goldtouch Nonstick Cookie Sheets.) And why multiple sets? For one, you need to let your baking sheet cool completely before placing a new batch of cookies on it. Placing cookies on a hot baking sheet can cause them to spread more as they bake because the heat melts the butter faster than the cookies bake. Having numerous baking sheets waiting in the wings means you don’t have to constantly wait for one to cool down. Plus, if your cookies are browning too much on the bottom, you can double up on the baking sheets, stacking a second one under the first to create a protective barrier.
Using parchment paper as your baking sheet liner Offers two cookie-baking benefits: you won’t burn the bottom of your cookies, and you’re cutting your cleanup time in half. Note: stay away from wax paper. While excellent for candy-making and storing in the freezer because it’s moisture-resistant, wax paper is not heat-resistant and could melt into your cookies or even catch fire in the oven.
If you haven’t recently calibrated your oven or have noticed that bake times are significantly off for your home-baked recipes, it might be time to invest in an oven thermometer and hang it on the middle rack. No matter what your oven tells you, the oven thermometer will give you a true reading of how hot the oven is. This way, you’ll always know whether your oven has been properly preheated or needs to have the temperature dropped or lowered for precision.
Wire cooling racks allow air to circulate on all sides of the cookies once they’re out of the oven so they achieve a tender texture all around. When cookies are cooled on a plate, condensation gets trapped under the bottoms, making them soggy. Stick with cooling racks with a tight grid pattern for proper support; ones with open slats will cause soft cookies to dip in the middle while cooling. ■