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There’s virtually nothing we don’t love about cookies. They’re among the easiest things to bake, and even if you mess up a little bit, they are still gonna taste great. It's why cookies are a great way to start baking even when you don’t have any experience beforehand.
Although cookies are more forgiving than other kinds of baked goods, that’s not an excuse to skip the basics of cookie-making! Applying tried-and-tested techniques to your cookies will not only make your cookies tastier and pleasing to the eyes— it’ll also strengthen your baking skills in the long run. Read on to find out some tips from the world’s best bakers, from Martha Stewart to Christina Tosi. And begin your journey to being the best baker you can be!
1. “Buy the best quality ingredients you can afford – that is the first step to achieving your best cookie possible.” – Thomas Keller
Thomas Keller, the mastermind behind Bouchon Bakery’s top-notch baked goods, can’t stress enough about the importance of using high-quality ingredients every time we bake. The quality of baked goods, especially something as simple as chocolate chip cookies, highly depends on the ingredients used. In an interview, Keller reveals the ingredients he uses in his cookies, and they are indeed the topmost quality. He even sticks to one brand to keep the quality consistent.
If you're baking in Singapore, try Callebaut's Dark Chocolate Callets for baking. We've found them to be a good price point for its quality! If you don't mind splurging, go for Valrhona. There's a reason why their chocolates are pricey!
2. “Bake with unsalted butter” – Anna Olson
Always use unsalted butter, even when the recipe doesn’t specify which type of butter to use. That way, you’ll be able to fully control the taste of your cookies. Using unsalted butter will let the flavors in your cookies stand out without getting overpowered. That doesn't mean no salt at all, mind. Most, if not all recipes will ask you to add salt to the recipe. This is because salt brings out the flavour of your ingredients.
Salt? Yes. Salty? No.
3. “Don’t fear a little melted butter as it will emulsify with the eggs.” – Dan Lepard
Many cookie recipes call for softened butter, and there are times you're in a pinch and you don't have the time to leave out your butter to soften. (Side note: In Singapore, we don't need to leave our butter out for an hour like many of our Western counterparts do. Read this article to learn more about softening butter in Singapore.).
Lepard shares his trick on melting cold butter straight out of the fridge: Cut it into small (1-2 cm) cubes, then heat it gently using a saucepan or in the microwave. Stop heating when some cubes are still solid; they’ll soften after several minutes. Pour the butter into your mixing bowl, add sugar, and proceed with the next steps in the recipe. Even if some of the butter is melted, it’s unlikely to cause any problem in your cookies.
4. “The first stage is the measuring and mixing. This can all be done in one bowl and finished in about 10 minutes”. – Dan Lepard
This is the beauty of making cookies. They usually don’t require too many ingredients, no advanced techniques are needed, and they don’t take that long to make.
Dan Lepard’s description of cookie-making couldn’t be more accurate. Mixing the ingredients for cookie dough can be done days, weeks, or even months before you bake, so you don’t have to carry out the whole process when that cookie craving kicks in.
Cookie dough stores well for up to three months when they’re frozen or refrigerated below 4°C. Whenever you want some freshly-baked cookies, bake them straight without thawing, but add approximately 5 minutes to the baking time.
5. “When you add flour, do not over mix. Stand over your mixer and watch it disappear into the dough. That second, switch the mixer off.” – Christina Tosi
The popularity of Milk Bar, a New York-based dessert and cookie shop, doesn’t come without good reason. We all know that the quality of baked goods is what makes or breaks bakeries. In this case, Christina Tosi’s experience in making cookies is what brought her chain restaurant to success. Being heralded as some of the best cookies in America, Tosi never forgets to apply her techniques in the making of those cookies.
Not over-mixing dry and wet ingredients is the key to success in baking; That’s why we never skip putting a friendly reminder in every recipe where it’s important. Too much mixing will result in gluten formation, which will toughen the cookies. Christina Tosi also added that “this is the difference between an impossibly tender cookie, and one that’s meh”.
6. “To get all of those ingredients to want to like each other, you have to defy gravity.” – Christina Tosi
The phrase “defying gravity” might sound a little extreme when it’s used in cookie-making, but that’s what determines the result you get. In creating her cookies, Tosi creams the butter, sugar, and eggs for up to 10 minutes at high speed. That way, these key ingredients will be completely incorporated into each other, and a sufficient amount of air goes into the mixture.
Not all cookies require a long time for the creaming stage, but never stop creaming before the mixture turns pale and fluffy. Always follow the recommended time in the recipe for the best results. The worst-case scenario that might happen if you don’t give enough time for creaming is misshapen cookies (or butter bleeding out of the cookies), and that's certainly something you don’t want to happen. Find out the right way to cream your ingredients in this video!
6. “Before dropping dough, make sure it’s slightly firm.” – Martha Stewart
If the cookie dough is too soft and sticky, chill it in the refrigerator briefly. In making any type of cookies, refrigerating it for a moment before baking ensures that it won’t spread too much while they’re being baked. This is especially important in baking drop cookies, like the ones in our Cookie Baking Kits. To obtain the round, slightly puffed shape, make sure your cookie dough is cold enough before you bake them.
7. “Use a small ice-cream scoop for uniform-size cookies”. – Martha Stewart
Ever baked a batch of cookies where some are already slightly burnt, but the others are still too gooey in the middle? That’s what happens when you don’t make your cookies the same size. Luckily, there’s a handy tool for anticipating this problem, which is your ice cream scoop.
When you use a regular spoon to drop your cookie dough onto the baking sheet, there may be slight size differences between each cookie. And that doesn’t rule out the possibility of scooping cookies with bigger weight differences, which means your cookies will be done at different times. Try applying this trick when making our White Chocolate & Cranberry Cookies!
8. “You want it to be compact so you don’t get a hole or air pocket in the center of the cookie.” – Dorie Greenspan
Making slice-and-bake cookies like shortbread cookies involves making a log of dough and refrigerating it before dividing the log into thin slices and baking them. Dorie Greenspan, an award-winning baker who specializes in cookies, suggests rolling the cookie dough as soon as you’re finished making it. At this moment, the cookie dough is still soft and malleable so that it can form a compact log without hollow air pockets in the middle. Watch this video to see how it’s done!
9. “Already individually portioned, biscuits and cookies keep really well in the freezer, plus it’s so much more economical to whip up your own at home.” – Jamie Oliver
It seems like Jamie Oliver understands the problem we all have faced at least once: baking too many cookies at once and being unable to finish it before they go stale. His solution is to freeze the cookies on a tray with some space between them, so they’ll become individually frozen.
After they are frozen, transfer them into plastic containers. This will give you more time to enjoy your delicious cookies. You can even start baking another batch and use the same method to give them a longer shelf life.
Put these tips and tricks into practice by trying some baking kits from our cookie collection. Still craving for more? Try our best-selling Earl Grey w/ Dark Chocolate Cookies, kid-friendly Oreo Chunk Cocoa Cookies or a tropical-inspired Coconut Cookies w/ Gula Melaka Bites!
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