Cookies are simple to make. But excellent, drool-inducing, Instagram-worthy cookies? They take an extra touch, and a little bit of finesse. In this article, we share with you 5 quick tips to instantly elevate your cookies! These tips will require no extra practice or equipment. All you really need is some patience to go through the list and carry them out the next time you bake cookies.
1) Name's Butter. Unsalted, Butter.
Some recipes call for using salted butter, but we recommend using unsalted butter instead, so you can control the amount of salt that goes into your cookies. As the salt content in different salted butter brands varies, we use salt and unsalted butter in all our baking kit recipes so you can recreate them again.
It might seem a bit counter-intuitive to add salt to your cookies, but it actually brings out the flavours in them. Nothing fancy, anything sweet should have a bit of salt to balance flavours out. Especially if your cookies contain some chocolate. But, there’s a thing as too much salt (overly salty cookies are a surefire way to lose friends).
2) Room Temperature Ingredients
Using room temperature ingredients is probably one of the most common steps you see in recipes (with the exception of flaky pie dough). And there's a whole scientific reason behind it.
Simply put, using room temperature ingredients help them combine more easily as compared to cold ingredients. This produces a more even mixture/batter/cookie dough that’ll result in better baked goods. For those of you who have tried to make cream cheese frosting with overly cold cream cheese, only to end up having lumps in your frosting – y’know what I’m talking about.
Especially when you’re creaming butter with sugar, it’s important to let your butter soften to room temperature! The creaming process allows for the creation of air pockets, which helps to aerate your mixture. With butter that’s too cold/hard, the sugar is unable to combine and penetrate the butter – this prevents the aeration required for fluffy, puffy cookies.
Most recipes, like the ones in our baking kits, will indicate if they need your butter to be cold or at room temperature, so remember to read through your recipes first to plan for any prep time required!
Sometimes the temperature of the butter doesn’t really matter, as the butter will be melted eventually. For example, our cookie baking kits utilise brown butter which is an aromatic and nutty-flavoured butter that's made by melting and heating butter until the milk solids brown.
3) Parchment Paper, Please
Imagine this - You're whistling a happy tune while you cream your butter & sugar. You remembered to put just the right pinch of salt in your dough, and you slot the baking sheet into the oven. 8 minutes later, you smell the wonderful aroma of cookies wafting through your kitchen. 20 minutes later, your cookies have cooled and you eagerly pick one up to give it a taste.
Only you can't. Because they are stuck. Because you placed the cookies right on the baking tray. No parchment. No cookies. The scene cuts to you scraping the cookies off your baking sheet in the sink. Not. Fun.
Besides ensuring that your cookies come off the baking sheet, parchment paper helps you clean up much easier, and keeps your cookies baking evenly. Please do not grease your baking sheet - this can cause your cookies to spread more and you get a monster of a cookie.
Did you know? Depending on the quality of parchment paper, time and temperature of each bake, the paper can be reused for 5 times or more! You may use it to line your pans until it gets dark, overly dirty, or brittle.
No parchment paper? No problem. Our cookie kits all come with reusable parchment paper.
4) Chill Your Cookie Dough
Cling-wrapping the pistachio cranberry cookie dough for chilling
I remember my early attempts at baking cookies. While tasty, they all turned out (too) flat and unappetising. Where’re the puffy, tall cookies the recipe promised? Dejected, I threw away the whole batch of cookies I spent the entire night making because they were meant for a party, and they were absolutely not looking the part.
It was only after much research did I find out that my skimping on the chilling period was the reason for the overly flat cookies. Because of Singapore’s hot weather, my cookie dough was very soft, and hence required a longer period of chilling than what the US-based recipe I referred to called for.
Not all recipes require you to chill your cookie dough, but for those that ask you to, you definitely should. Chilling the dough not only makes it easier to work with (for example, shaping it into a ball), but it also helps you ensure that your cookie doesn't spread out too much during baking.
5) Crispy or Chewy?
While the recipe plays a huge part in determining if you get soft & chewy cookies, or crispy & firmer ones, the baking time, size of cookies, and even the cooling method can steer your cookies towards one direction.
For soft & chewy cookies:
- Bake until it’s just done, when the edges set and are lightly browned. Don’t worry if the centre of your cookies look slightly under-baked. They will continue to cook after you remove them from the oven
- Bigger, thicker cookies simply mean that it’s harder for the insides to get overcooked, yielding a soft, chewy centre
- Cool the cookies on the pan for longer (3-5 minutes), before transferring them to a wire cooling rack
For crispy cookies:
- Bake slightly longer, till the centre’s fully set and firm
- Make smaller cookies, or make sure that each piece of cookie dough is shaped in a flatter manner
- Let cookies cool for just one minute before you use an offset spatula to transfer them to a cooling rack
Instantly Elevate Your Cookies
And there, just by doing a few things differently, you can make your cookies the way you like ‘em. Cookies are one of my favourite things to bake, because it’s simple, versatile, and so easy to share them with people! It’s a good way to make friends, too. ;)
Next time you bake cookies, make sure you keep these tips in mind!
Want to bake some cookies but missing some ingredients? Check out our collection of cookie baking kits that come with the ingredients you need in the exact portions. That includes unsalted butter, mix-ins, and even reusable parchment paper.