Cookies are generally grouped into categories based on how they are shaped and formed. So many cookies; each is unique, each is delicious, and each is fun to make. Drop cookies, such as chocolate chip and oatmeal are formed by dropping spoonfuls of dough onto the cookie sheet. Shaped cookies, such as Russian Teacakes and Snickerdoodles are formed into balls before baking.
Refrigerator cookies are rolled into a log, chilled, then sliced and baked. Sugar cookies and Gingerbread are popular for making rolled and cutout cookies. Pressed cookies, such as Spritz cookies, are formed by using a cookie press. Madeleines are baked in a special Madeleine pan. Bars and brownies are baked in a pan with sides, and then cut into bar shapes after baking. And don’t filled cookies such as Whoopie Pies and Rugelach.
- Clear your workspace so that is free of unnecessary clutter, remove any packages, paper, pens, equipment, etc. that are not needed.
- Clean the countertop before starting and always wash your hands.
- It is helpful to keep a clean, damp towel nearby to wipe sticky fingers or messy counters as you work.
- Always read the recipe directions from beginning to end before you begin baking, especially if this is the first time for making a recipe.
- Make sure you understand all the directions and have the basic plan in your head. You still want to follow the written recipe as you prepare your baking project, but knowing the directions beforehand helps prevent errors.
Pre-Check Ingredient List:
- Make sure you have all the ingredients before beginning baking. You don’t want to get to the middle of baking cookies and realize you need to make a quick run to the grocery store for more eggs!
Buy Fresh Ingredients:
- All ingredients you are using should be fresh. Buy the finest quality ingredients for the best flavor in your baked items.
- Buy fresh eggs, dairy items and fresh spices. If ingredients have been sitting for months and years the quality of your baked items may be compromised.
- The bulk foods section of your grocery store carries many baking ingredients and can be less expensive than buying pre-packaged. If you only need a small amount of an ingredient it may be easier to purchase from the bulk section rather than buying a larger pre-packaged amount.
Room Temperature Ingredients:
- Unless otherwise specified in the recipe, all ingredients should be at room temperature, normally 68 to 70 degrees.
- If ingredients have been refrigerated, such as milk, eggs, and butter, let them sit out at room temperature for 20 to 30 minutes before using.
- When ingredients are at room temperature, butter and sugar will cream properly, eggs will blend well into the batter to act as an emulsifier, egg whites are easier to beat, and dry ingredients will combine easier.
- It is helpful to set out all the ingredients you will be using before you start a recipe.
Give the butter time to soften to room temperature.
Toast and chop the nuts. See Toasting Nuts and Seeds for help.
Melt the chocolate and let cool.
Sift and measure the flour and dry ingredients.
Measure the wet ingredients.
Set the milk out to warm.
Place the eggs in a bowl of warm water to take the chill off.
Plump raisins or other dried fruits.
Plump the fruit by steaming with a double boiler; steam the raisins about 1 minute or until softened. Thoroughly drain, or spread the raisins on paper toweling to dry.
- Substituting ingredients can affect the texture and taste of your cookies.
- Limit food substitutions in a recipe, but do not be afraid to be creative; that is how new recipes are born.
- See Ingredient Substitutions for common substitutions.
Butter vs. Margarine
Butter adds a sweet, delicate, rich flavor to cookies. Use Butter if possible for baking cookies unless the recipe specifies otherwise. Unsalted butter is the preferred choice. Salted butter can be used, however different brands of butter use different quantities of salt, making it difficult to control the amount of salt in the recipe.
Margarine is made from vegetable oils and can be substituted for butter in many recipes, but the flavor of the finished cookies may not be quite as good. Use stick margarine with at least 80% oil for baking. Avoid using Spreads and whipped margarine as they contain more air and are not suitable for baking.
Granulated sugar vs. brown sugar
If you prefer soft cookies try substituting brown sugar for some or all of the granulated sugar in a recipe. Brown sugar contains more moisture and will produce a softer cookie.
Gather Pans and Equipment:
- All cookie sheets, measuring cups and spoons, and tools should be clean and dry and at room temperature.
- For example you don’t want to put butter into a mixing bowl fresh from a hot dishwasher as the butter will start melting in the hot pan. There may be exceptions to the room temperature rule, such as chilled beaters and bowl is best for whipping cream.
- Assemble all the mixing bowls, measuring cups and spoons, cookie sheets, and any other tools the recipe requires; set them on your countertop so they’re available when you need them.
Preheat the Oven:
- Turn the oven on, and select the temperature called for in the recipe at the beginning of your baking project.
- Unless a recipe’s directions call for a cold oven, always have the oven hot and ready to go as soon as the baking pan is ready to be put in the oven. It usually takes 15 to 20 minutes to preheat an oven.
- Use liquid measuring cups for liquid ingredients, and dry measuring cups for dry ingredients.
- Accurate measuring is one of the most important elements of baking. Too much flour can make the cookies dry. Too much sugar can make the cookies too moist. Too much leavener can make the cookies bitter.
- It helps to count out loud if you are measuring three or more of an ingredient, then if you are distracted by something it is easier to remember how many you already measured. For example when measuring three cups of flour, count out loud: “one, two, three.”
- See Measurements and Weight Conversions for measuring help.
Post-Check Ingredient List:
- Before putting your cookies into the oven, read through the list of recipe ingredients one more time to make sure an ingredient has not been left out.
- If you missed an ingredient the directions called for in the beginning of the preparation, go ahead and add it now. Better late than never!
Use a Timer:
- A kitchen timer is indispensable. Don’t guess at how long the cookies have been in the oven.
- Use a kitchen timer to accurately time the baking time. The kitchen timer’s handy bell is also a reminder that something is baking in case you get distracted. I like to use my microwave’s built-in timer.
Don't Burn Your Fingers:
- Use a good hot pad or oven mitt to remove hot cookie sheets from the oven. A kitchen towel may be handy but does not offer good protection.
- The silicone non-slip pads are wonderfully heat resistant and give you a good grip.
- Keep some Aloe Vera handy for small kitchen burns.
Types of Cookie Sheets:
- Purchase the best quality baking pans and cookie sheets you can afford.
- Use a heavy gauge shiny aluminum cookie or baking sheet if possible; dark finishes absorb heat quicker and may cause the cookies to over-brown.
- The cookie sheet should have low sides, or no sides.
- Cookie sheets with a cushion of air between 2 layers help prevent over browning. The drawback of air pans is that they don’t brown a cookie as quickly which can cause over-baking
Prepare the Cookie Sheet:
- the recipe directions should tell you how to prepare the pan.
Greased or Ungreased
Most cookies are baked using ungreased pans. Or you may want to line the pan with parchment paper or a non-stick baking mat.
If you are greasing the pan, use a small amount of vegetable shortening or nonstick cooking spray to lightly grease the pans.
An alternative to greasing is to cover the baking sheet with either parchment paper or a non-stick baking pad. These eliminate adding extra fat to the cookies, and also make cleaning the baking sheet easier once your cookie baking is complete.When a recipe states to use an ungreased baking sheet, the cookies can be placed directly on the baking sheet and they should not stick after they are baked. Or you can still cover the baking sheet with parchment paper or a non-stick baking pad for easier cleanup at the end.
Using a dry paper towel or napkin is an easy way to spread the shortening without getting your hands messy.
Avoid using butter which can burn during baking.
- Avoid Over mixing the Dough. After the flour is added, mix just until the flour is incorporated with the rest of the ingredients. Over mixing can cause tough cookies.
- Most cookies doughs can be chilled before baking. Chilling the dough in the refrigerator helps to prevent the cookies from flattening or spreading too much, and helps to give a nice rounded center. Refrigerate the dough for at least 30 minutes, or up to 2 days before baking.
- The cookie dough should be portioned out so they are the same size and shape to ensure the cookies bake evenly.
- A small ice cream scoop with a release mechanism is ideal for making uniform-sized cookies. Scoops come in all sizes, a tablespoon size scoop is a good size to start with.
- Use the Two-Inch Rule. Unless the recipe states otherwise, place cookie dough at least 2 inches apart to allow room for spreading.
- Bake a Test Batch. Bake just one or two cookies to begin with. This will allow you to test the oven temperature and baking time before baking the entire batch of cookies.
- Cookies bake better if you bake just one sheet of cookies at a time. Place the cookie sheet in the center of the oven. If the cookies are baking unevenly, try rotating the baking sheet 180 degrees half way through the baking time.
- If possible, avoid placing one sheet above another sheet in the oven on separate oven racks, as this can cause uneven baking. If you need to bake two sheets at a time, reverse the position of the sheets half way through the baking time, and rotate each 180 degrees.
- Be sure that the cookie sheet fits in your oven with at least two inches of space between the pan and the oven walls to allow good air circulation.
- Check for doneness at the minimum time length stated in a recipe, then bake a little longer if needed. Cookies can easily overbake; use visual clues for doneness such as brown edges. Most cookies are done when they are just barely set (when touching the top still leaves a slight indentation.) Don’t worry if you need to bake less or longer than the recipe states. Learn to trust your judgment and your oven.
- Baking times given in a recipe are only guidelines; each oven is different and may require more or less time than the recipe states. Opening and closing an oven door can change oven temperatures, along with the ovens’ normal cycling on and off to maintain as even a temperature as possible. When a recipe states a range of baking time such as to bake for 15 to 20 minutes, check for doneness when the minimum time is reached.
- If you prefer softer cookies, remove them from the oven while they are still slightly under baked.
- Use a clean toothpick to check for doneness in bar cookies. If just a few moist crumbs cling to the toothpick, they are probably done. Bar cookies continue to cook after you remove them from the oven.
- My recipes have been tested in a regular oven, not a convection oven. If you use a convection oven instead, you will need to adjust your baking time and temperature as the oven manufacturer suggests.
Cool Cookies After Baking:
- Most cookies should be cooled before you eat them.
- Many cookies should be removed from the pan immediately after baking to prevent the cookie from continuing to cook.
- If the cookies seem to fall apart when removing them from the baking sheet, let them cool on the baking sheet one or two minutes before transferring them to a wire rack to cool completely.
- Remove cookies from baking sheets with a metal spatula and place on a wire cooling rack to cool completely.
Cool and Clean Cookie Sheets Between Batches:
- Each batch of cookies that goes into the oven should have a clean and cooled cookie sheet.
- Let the cookie sheets cool to room temperature between baking batches of cookies.
- Cool a cookie sheet quickly, if you’re in a hurry, by running it under cool water, and then dry it thoroughly before using.
- Always place cookie dough on a cool pan. Otherwise the dough starts to soften and the cookies start spreading before they are placed in the oven
Reheat Cookies in Microwave:
- Soft or chewy cookies can be heated briefly in a microwave oven to restore that just-baked freshness. Wrap a single cookie in a paper towel and microwave 10 to 20 seconds or until soft. Cool before serving.
- Crisp cookies do not reheat well in the microwave as they loose their crisp crunchy texture.
- Avoid reheating frosted cookies, as the frosting liquefies and melts off the cookie.
Freezing Cookie Dough:
- Freeze cookie dough for a just-baked treat anytime of the day or night. Most cookie dough freezes well up to about 3 months. The best doughs for freezing are drop, shaped, and refrigerator cookie doughs.
- Place the dough in an air tight container, or wrap securely with plastic wrap or heavy duty foil to prevent freezer burn.
- Label the outside of the package with the name of the cookie and the date you packaged them.
- My favorite way of freezing cookie dough is to first form cookie dough into individual balls. Place on a parchment paper lined plate in the freezer 2 to 3 hours or until they are completely firm (don’t let them touch or they will fuse together.) When the dough balls are firm, transfer them to an airtight plastic bag or container.
- Refrigerator cookies that you have already formed into a log shape are easily frozen. Wrap the logs in wax paper or plastic wrap, then place in an airtight plastic bag or container. You can also place the log inside an empty cardboard paper towel tube to help keep the dough in a nice round shape.
- When ready to bake the cookies, remove the desired amount and leave the rest in the freezer for another day. Thaw the dough in the refrigerator.
- If baking frozen cookie dough, use a lower oven temperature than the recipe states to allow the dough time to thaw and spread as they bake.
- Cookies are so delicious when freshly baked that there may not be any left to store away for later. If you do have cookies that need storing, follow these tips:
- Allow cookies to cool completely before storing.
- Store crisp cookies and soft or chewy cookies separately, otherwise the soft cookies may cause the crisp cookies to lose their crunch.
- Store each cookie type separately to avoid mingling the flavors.
- Store at room temperature in containers with a tight fitting lid. Layer the cookies, separating the layers with a piece of wax or parchment paper.
- Avoid storing cookies in airtight plastic bags sitting at room temperature except for short intervals, as these can promote moisture to build and cause spoilage.
- Allow icings to dry completely before storing. Store cookies with cream cheese frostings in the refrigerator.
- For freezer storage, wrap baked cookies in foil or plastic wrap, seal in airtight containers or airtight plastic bags. Most cookies freeze well for 3 to 6 months. Thaw the wrapped cookies at room temperature before serving.
Packing and Shipping Cookies:
- Cookies are nice to share with family and friends. Use these tips to help ensure the cookies arrive at their destination tasting and looking as wonderful as the day they are baked:
- Choose sturdy cookies for shipping. Most bar, drop, shaped, and refrigerator cookies travel well. Cutout cookies and any cookie that is thin and delicate may break or crumble during shipping.
- Cookies that require refrigeration are not generally good for shipping, as they may spoil before reaching their final destination.
- Allow cookies to cool completely and any icing to dry before packing. Pack and ship as soon as possible after baking so the cookies will arrive still fresh.
- Wrap in bundles of two, placing the bottoms together. Wrap bars individually. Wrap crisp cookies separately from soft or chewy cookies. Wrap strong flavored cookies, such as gingersnaps, separately from mild-flavored cookies, such as sugar cookies.
- Line a tin or box with crumpled wax paper, tissue paper, or bubble wrap to provide a cushioning. Pack the wrapped cookies snuggly in the container. Fill in empty spaces with more crumpled wax paper or tissue, including around the sides and over the top of the cookies.
- Place the cookie container in another sturdy outer box, cushioning all sides with crumpled paper, bubble wrap, or Styrofoam pellets.
Bar Cookies and Brownies:
- Possibly the easiest of all cookies to make are bar cookies and brownies. The dough may be thin and poured, or thick and patted into the pan. There may be layers of fruit or fillings, and there may be crumbly toppings. Bar cookies are baked in a pan with sides instead of on a baking sheet. After baking and cooling, they are cut into shapes such as squares, triangle or diamonds.
Prepare the Pan:
- The baking pan is typically lightly greased and dusted with flour, or sprayed with a nonstick cooking spray to prevent the bars from sticking to the pan after baking.
- An alternative to greasing and flouring is to lightly grease the pan then line with parchment paper. The edges of the parchment paper should extend above the edge of the pan. After the bars are baked and cooled, grab the top edges of the parchment paper, and lift from the pan. Remove the parchment paper and discard, and then cut the bars into shapes.
- Pans can also be lined with foil. Start with a piece of foil larger than the pan. Turn the pan upside down and mold the foil around the bottom and sides of the pan. Remove the foil, turn the pan right side up and place the formed foil in the pan. The edges of the foilshould extend above the edge of the pan. Lightly grease the foil, pour in the batter and bake as directed. After the bars are baked and cooled, grab the top edges of the foil, and lift from the pan. Remove the foil and discard, and then cut the bars into shapes.
Prepare the Batter:
- Do not overbeat the batter when mixing the ingredients together. Mix just enough to blend all the ingredients thoroughly together, and then stop. Over beating can cause the bars to rise too much while baking, then fall and crack while cooling.
- When melting chocolate over hot water, have the water simmering, not boiling. If melting butter and chocolate together, melt the butter first, then add the chocolate. Do not allow the mixture to become too hot. Once melted, immediately remove from the heat.
- When the melted butter and chocolate are warm, the batter will be thicker. Cooled butter and chocolate will produce a thicker batter.
- Spread the batter evenly in the pan. If one side or corner is thinner than another, it bakes quicker and over bakes before the rest of the pan is done.
Baking Bar Cookies:
- Bar cookies are normally done when the sides begin shrinking away from the side of the pan, and the top springs back when lightly touched with your finger.
- Or use a clean toothpick to check for doneness in bar cookies. If just a few moist crumbs cling to the toothpick, they are probably done. Bar cookies and brownies continue to bake after you remove them from the oven.
- Watch carefully toward the end of the baking time. Bar cookies and brownies that are overbaked will be dry and hard. If the bars or brownies seem underdone in the center, they will firm up when cooling.
- After baking, remove the pan from the oven and place on a wire cooling rack to cool
Cutting Bar Cookies:
- My favorite tool to cut bar cookies is a stainless steel dough scraper; simply push the dough scraper straight down into the cookie for straight cuts. Or use a pizza cutter or small kitchen knife to cut the cookie into bars.
- Follow the recipe directions for when to cut. Most bars and brownies are cooled before cutting; however some bars are easier to cut while still warm.
- To cut perfectly sized bars, position a clean ruler on top of the bars and make cut marks with the tip of a knife. Use the ruler as a cutting guide.
- To make diamond shapes, first make a diagonal cut from one corner of the pan to the opposite corner, and then make diagonal cuts at 1½ inch intervals parallel to the first cut. Next make a lengthwise cut through the center of the pan from the top edge to the bottom edge, and then make lengthwise cuts at 1½ inch intervals parallel to the first cut, forming diamonds.
- Drop cookies are easy to make, just drop and bake, no shaping required. They are normally irregularly shaped, as you are just dropping the dough onto the baking sheet.
- Cover and refrigerate the dough 30 to 60 minutes before baking to help prevent cookies from spreading. Scrape down the side of the bowl before chilling the dough.
- Nuts should normally be coarsely chopped. Nuts that are chopped more finely will make firmer cookie dough.
- If substituting chunky ingredients, substitute with an equal amount of another ingredient. For example substitute raisins for nuts or chocolate chips.
- Chunky ingredients are normally added last when mixing the dough. Mix just briefly after adding so they don’t get chopped to finely by the mixer.
- Scrape the bowl frequently while portioning the dough onto the cookie sheets to ensure an even distribution of chips, nuts and fruits for each cookie.
- Depending on the desired size of the cookie, use either a teaspoon or tablespoon from your flatware, fill the spoon with dough and use another spoon or rubber spatula to push the dough off the spoon onto the baking sheet.
- Use a small ice cream scoop with a release mechanism instead of a flatware spoon for dropping the cookie dough. The scoop makes it easier to keep the cookies a uniform size.
- Drop the same amount of dough for each cookie. Having the same amount of dough will ensure the cookies bake evenly.
- Unless the recipe states otherwise, place cookie dough at least 2 inches apart to allow room for spreading.
- Change the size of the finished cookie by using less or more dough. Adjust the spacing between cookies on the cookie sheet and adjust the baking time accordingly.
- Drop cookie dough can be transformed and treated like refrigerator cookies. Form the dough into logs, then wrap, chill or freeze, then slice and bake.
- Using a cookie press may take a little practice, but you will find it is easy to master and produce beautifully shaped cookies.
- The cookie press should come with a selection of plates to create different shapes. A cookie press allows you to turn out batch after batch of beautiful cookies. By simply changing the plate you can make cookies of different shapes such as stars, wreaths, flowers, and trees.
- Nuts and other chunky ingredients must be finely chopped to avoid clogging the cookie press plates and to press a clean cookie design.
- The pressed cookies will adhere to the cookie sheet better if the sheet is not greased.
- When filling the cookie press, form a portion of the dough into a log slightly smaller than the cookie press cylinder and fit into the cookie press.
- To avoid air pockets, load the cookie dough into the cylinder from the bottom end where the plate is. Smooth the edge with a spatula.
- To press the cookies, hold the press upright and apply even pressure on the handle to press out the shaped cookies. Force the dough through the press until the dough can be seen at the rim of the press. Lift the press straight up once the shape is formed.
- Bake a test batch, about 2 or 3 cookies, to test the consistency of the dough.
- The cookie dough should be room temperature. However if the cookie does not hold its pattern, refrigerate the dough for 10 to 15 minutes before pressing. If the dough sticks to the gun while pressing the cookies it is probably too stiff; thin the dough with a small amount of milk.
- Dough may be tinted with food coloring. Use small amounts of color until you reach the desired shade.
- Also known as icebox cookies. Unless the recipe states otherwise, the dough is typically rolled into a log shape, wrapped in wax paper or plastic wrap, refrigerated until chilled, then sliced and baked.
- Nuts and fruits are generally chopped smaller in refrigerator cookies to make the dough easier to slice. If the nuts and fruits are too large the cookie dough may break apart when slicing.
- Sprinkle the work surface with powdered sugar, rather than flour, when shaping the log. The sugar will dissolve into the cookie when baking.
- When forming logs, make them shorter rather than too long to make them easier to handle.
- Once you have shaped the dough into a log shape try rolling it in nuts, sugar sprinkles, coconut, or other toppings before refrigerating. When the dough is sliced the edges will have a decorative edge.
- If the log is being coated with nuts or sugar, place the log on a piece of wax paper and then brush the log with egg whites or an egg wash before rolling in the coating. This will help the coating to adhere to the log.
- The easiest and neatest way to apply coatings is to place the coating in a shallow pan large enough to accommodate the size of the log, such as a small jelly roll pan. Lift the wax paper used when applying the egg wash and roll the log directly into the coating. Gently shake the pan back and forth, rolling the log until covered with the coating mixture.
- Wrap the dough tightly in wax paper or plastic wrap to prevent it from drying out while refrigerating.
- To keep a nice round shape, place the wrapped cookie rolls in a tall glass, and place the glass on its side in the refrigerator. The round glass helps prevent the bottom of the dough from flattening out. Turn the logs periodically while refrigerating.
- Slice the dough after the logs are well chilled and firm. Use a sharp knife to cut the slices. Take one roll from the refrigerator at a time, keeping the rest refrigerated until ready to use.
- When slicing the cookies, turn the log about a quarter turn each time you slice to keep the log rounded. Make sure each slice is cut the same width to ensure even baking. Use a ruler as a guide
Rolled and Cutout Cookies:
- Many people consider rolled sugar cookies to be their favorite, either plain or sprinkled with colored sugars, nonpareils or glittery sparkles. Rolled and cutout cookies can be such fun to make and are a special holiday tradition in many families.
- The dough is cut into any shape you desire with cookie cutters; perhaps stars and candy canes for Christmas, hearts for Valentines Day, shamrocks for St Patrick’s Day, and pumpkins for Halloween. If you don’t have a cookie cutter, use a drinking glass to make circles, or just cut the dough into squares or triangles with a knife.
- The dough is normally chilled before using; however, dough that is too cold will crack and be difficult to roll. The dough should be chilled, yet pliable enough to roll.
- Handle the dough as little as possible to produce light tender cookies. Over handling causes tougher cookies.
- Lightly dust the work surface, such as a pasty board or pastry mat, and rolling pin with flour to prevent sticking. Use as little flour as possible, as extra flour worked into the dough can make the cookies tougher.
- Place wax paper, parchment paper, or freezer paper on the surface where you are rolling the dough to make cleanup easy; when finished rolling and cutting all the cookies, just crumple up the paper and discard.
- Roll the dough from the center out into a circle or rectangle, usually to a 1/8 or ¼ inch thickness. Keep a uniform thickness so the cookies bake evenly. When rolling the dough, periodically give it a quarter turn to ensure it isn’t stuck to the rolling surface and to insure an even thickness. Thin cookies are crispier, thicker cookies are chewier.
- Roll just a small portion of the chilled dough at a time, keeping the remaining dough refrigerated until ready to use.
- Dip the cookie cutter in flour before cutting the dough to prevent the dough from sticking to the cutter. Tap the cutter before using to remove excess flour.
- Cut out the shapes as close together as possible to reduce the amount of dough scraps left over. Generally re-rolling the scraps only one time is desirable, as the more times they are rolled, the tougher the cookies may become.
- Carefully slide a spatula under the cutout shape and transfer to the baking sheet. Use a spatula that is large enough to support the entire cutout.
- For an easy decorated cookie, try sprinkling the cutout cookies with sugar sprinkles before baking. Place the cutout cookie on a piece of wax paper, brush the cutout cookie lightly with an egg wash or egg white, then decorate with sprinkles, chopped nuts, or colored sugar. Transfer the decorated cookie to the cookie sheet and bake.
- Or frost and decorate after the cookies are baked and cooled. Decorating cutout cookies has endless possibilities.
- Rolling the dough into balls is the most common shape for cookies. Forming dough into crescent shapes or logs, pressing the dough through a cookie press, and flattening the dough with a fork in a criss-cross pattern are other types of shaped cookies.
- If dough is too soft or sticky, cover and refrigerate the dough 30 to 60 minutes before shaping and baking. Scrape down the side of the bowl before chilling the dough.
- Don’t allow the dough to become too cold or it will be hard to shape. If it becomes too cold allow to sit at room temperature until easy to handle.
- Scoop the dough with a spoon or a small ice cream scoop with a release mechanism before shaping to keep the cookies a uniform size.
- To form into balls, roll the dough between your palms until it forms a ball. Roll the balls quickly and only 3 or 4 times between the palms of your hands. If the dough is rolled too much it will become too soft and cause the cookies to not hold their shape while baking.
- If the dough is too sticky, either refrigerate until slightly chilled, or dust your hands with flour. Alternatively, rinse your hands in cold water to cool your hands and prevent sticking. Washing your hands periodically between cookies will help prevent sticking.
- After dough is formed into balls, you can slightly flatten the balls using a flat-bottomed drinking glass. This will help ensure evenly thick cookies.
- Use a fork to press a criss-cross shape, such as for peanut butter cookies. Periodically dip the fork in water to help prevent sticking.
- Coatings or toppings can be added to shaped cookies, such as finely chopped nuts, cocoa powder, powdered sugar, decorative sugars, nonpareils or sugar sprinkles. To help the coatings adhere to the dough, the dough may be first rolled or dipped in water or egg whites.
- If using coatings, use just a portion of the coating at a time to ensure each cookie has fresh coating ingredients.
- The easiest and neatest way to apply coatings is to place the coating in a shallow pan, such as a pie pan. Add just a few dough balls at a time and gently shake the pan back and forth, rolling the balls until covered with the coating mixtur