Well, that’s not exactly true. We are married, after all. There are other things we like to do on a Friday night.
Okay, so maybe after those things, we like to bake cookies.
A basic cookie recipe is definitely something every cook should have in their bag. That doesn’t mean that you have to make from scratch every single time. Usually after a long day of work and family, our cookies end up being the slice and bake variety from the grocery store. Simply because the dough is already made and it’s just easy. Nobody is going to judge you if you can’t be all Martha Stewart 24/7.
However, every once in a while I like to get my hands dirty and make from scratch. They do end up tasting better. If you have little ones in your life, it’s a great activity to do together. Or, if you have a friend or family member that needs a pick-me-up, homemade cookies will usually brighten their day.
The biggest complaint I hear from novice bakers is that their cookies end up burnt on the bottom. Trust me, I’ve been there. You can ask The Husband – for the first few years of our marriage I ALWAYS overbaked the cookies. I have learned a few tricks along to way that will help improve your cookie baking skills. And if practice makes perfect, what could be worse than fresh baked cookies as the fruit of your labor?
Cookie baking tips:
- Use real ingredients. I’m just old school. You can use margarine in place of butter and imitation vanilla instead of real extract. But personally, I think it affects the texture and the flavor.
- Always check the expiration date on your ingredients! You should do this every time you bake. Baking powder or baking soda that is past its prime may not give you the rise your cookies need during baking.
- Use the right type of measuring cup. There are measuring cups for liquid and measuring cups for dry ingredients. Believe it or not, they are not interchangeable when it comes to baking. If you use a liquid measuring cup to measure your flour, you can add as much as an additional tablespoon of flour to the mix and that can result in dry cookies.
- Set your butter out beforehand so it can come to room temperature. I am totally guilty of going to make a batch of cookies, realizing that I forgot to let the butter come to room temperature, and zapping it in the microwave for a few seconds. The problem with this is that microwaves don’t heat evenly, so half your butter will be soft while the other half is melted.
- Mix your ingredients just until the batter is smooth. Overmixing can result in tough cookies. Additionally, if you are adding things like nuts or chocolate chips, add them last, stir them in with a wooden spoon rather and a mixer, and only stir until everything is evenly combined.
- Chill the cookie dough for about 30 minutes to 1 hour before baking. This helps the cookies keep their shape and prevents the cookies from spreading out all over the place.
- Use light colored baking sheets. Remember in science class when you learned that darker colored objects absorb more heat? Well, that results in overcooked cookies!
- Check cookies after the minimum baking time. If they don’t look done, you can always put them in for a little longer. However, if they are burnt, not much you can do about that.
- Rotate your baking sheets halfway through the cooking time. Rotate them 180 degree and if baking on more than one rack, switch from top to bottom. Most ovens have cold spots, so this helps the cookies bake more evenly.
- For softer cookies, remove them from the oven when they look slightly underbaked. The cookies will continue to bake for a few minutes as they cool on the cookie sheet. However, after about 3 minutes, carefully remove them to a wire rack to continue cooking.
By the way, unbaked cookie dough freezes extremely well. You can measure them out and freeze them flat on a cookie sheet, the transfer to a plastic bag. Or, roll dough into a log for your own slice-and-bake version.
Serve with a big ol’ glass of cold milk for best results.
Chocolate Chip Cookies
- ¾ cup granulated sugar
- ¾ cup packed brown sugar
- 1 cup unsalted butter softened
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 large egg
- 2 ¼ cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 cup coursley chopped nuts optional
- 1 bag 12 ounces semisweet chocolate chips
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In a large mixing bowl, cream together the sugars and the butter.
Add vanilla and eggs and mix until just combined.
Stir in flour, baking soda, and salt.
Using a wooden spoon, add in nuts if using and chocolate chips.
Drop dough by rounded tablespoonfuls, about two inches apart, onto a prepared cookie sheet.
Bake approximately 8-10 minutes or until edges look done, but centers are still soft. Allow cookies to cool on the cookie sheet about 2 minutes before removing to a wire rack to continue cooling.
Makes about 4 dozen