One thing is certain when it comes to the holiday season: This time of year would not be complete without ample batches of freshly baked cookies coming out of the oven. Whether you're assembling the cookie plate for a holiday party, mailing a sweet gift, or baking up a batch just because, these are our 10 most helpful cookie tips to keep by your side.
1. Age chocolate chip cookie dough for a day in the fridge.
Patience pays off, so hold off on baking chocolate chip cookies immediately after stirring the dough together. For a cookie with more complex flavor, "age" the dough for a day or two in the fridge before baking.
2. Roll out sugar cookie dough before chilling it.
Instead of rolling out chilled discs of cookie dough that are prone to cracking, get out your rolling pin before the dough hits the fridge. Just-made dough is super soft and pliable, and rolls out easily between a couple pieces of wax or parchment paper.
3. Use powdered sugar instead of flour to roll out cookies.
When rolling out sugar cookies, dust your work surface with powdered sugar instead of flour. This sweet swap will prevent the dough from sticking to the counter without adding extra flour to the cookies.
Learn more: Roll Out Cookie Dough with Powdered Sugar
4. The easiest way to decorate cookies is with candy melts.
When it comes decorating cookies, there are a number of ways to go about it. When you need a smart shortcut and want to skip the need to measure, mix, and color several bowls of sugar icing, reach for the candy melts. These colored candy chips melt into a one-ingredient icing that makes cookie-decorating easier than ever.
Learn more: The One-Ingredient Icing You Need to Know About
5. Make sure your mixer can actually hold a double batch.
Before doubling up your favorite cookie recipe, be sure your mixer can actually hold that much dough without spilling over. Not only does it avoid a mess, but you'll also avoid over-mixing the dough as you struggle to work in all the ingredients.
6. Use a cardboard paper towel roll to help form cookie dough.
Yes, cookie cutters, biscuit cutters, and ring rounds are the obvious choice for making perfectly round cookies, but another unexpected helper is the cardboard tube from a roll of paper towels. For icebox and slice-and-bake cookies that get rolled into a log before slicing and baking, the cardboard tube helps make for a well-shaped log.
Learn more: 4 Easy Ways to Make Perfectly Round Cookies
7. Avoid cookies that spread by cooling baking sheets.
Dropping cookies onto a hot baking sheet often means that the butter begins melting even before the cookies go into the oven, and results in the cookies spreading too much during baking. For a better second (and third) batch of cookies, bring baking sheets to room temperature before adding more cookie dough.
8. Avoid freezing dough with liquidy batter.
Most types of cookie dough freezes wonderfully, but there is one exception: Cookies made from a liquidy batter like cakey madeleines, or thin cookies like tuiles, florentines, and pizzelles, don't hold up well in the freezer.
Learn more: The Best Cookies to Freeze and How to Do It
9. Cookies with a firm, dense texture hold up best for mailing.
When shipping cookies, stay away from soft, crumbly cookies or anything that needs to be refrigerated. Instead, opt for a sweet package that includes hard and crunchy cookies (like biscotti and shortbread), dense cookies (like peanut butter and sugar cookies), or bar cookies.
Learn more: The 3 Best Types of Cookies for Mailing
10. Be sure cookies are completely cool before icing.
Don't rush the cooling process; warm cookies are not a friend to icing. Set yourself up for decorating success by giving cookies ample time to cool before adding the icing.
Learn more: 5 Mistakes to Avoid When Icing Cookies