Q. I always end up with some large cookies and some that are too small. How can I make sure all of my cookies are the same size?
All types of cookies should be of uniform size so they bake equally. For uniform drop cookies, use a small ice cream scoop, melon baller, or tablespoon. "Icebox," or "refrigerator," cookies are sliced from chilled rolls of dough. Be sure the dough is very firm before slicing the cookies in uniform widths with a sharp knife. (It helps to rotate the roll about a quarter-turn with every slice to keep the roll round.)
Place cookies at least 2 inches apart on the cookie sheet. If you're making cutout cookies, place similar size and shape cookies on the sheet at a time to ensure even baking.
Dip your cookie cutters in flour to keep them from sticking to the dough. Transfer cutouts to the sheet with a wide spatula to prevent wrinkling.
Q: What is the best kind of cookie sheet to use for baking cookies?
Shiny aluminum cookie sheets are the preferred baking pan for consistently well-baked cookies; dark or insulated cookie sheets can result in overbaked or underbaked cookies.
Line cookie sheets with parchment paper. This nonstick paper, sold in the waxed paper and aluminum foil section of the supermarket, is well worth the cost -- no messy greasing or spraying, and no sticking. You can slide an entire sheet of baked cookies onto a wire cooling rack without breaking them, and you can re-use the paper for the next batch.
You can also roll dough for cutout cookies between two pieces of parchment paper to prevent sticking to countertops and rolling pins. The parchment will peel off the rolled-out dough.
Q: Help! Every time I bake cookies, some of them come out underdone, while some are burnt. Is there a way for me to prevent this?
If cookies are browning unevenly in the oven, rotate the cookie sheet.
If you use two cookie sheets at a time, switch the top and bottom pans halfway through baking.
Check on your cookies a minute or two before the minimum recommended time. If they're firm on top and the bottoms are beginning to brown, remove them immediately unless your recipe specifically states otherwise.
To prevent breaking soft, just-baked cookies, let them cool for a minute or two on the cookie sheet after you remove them from the oven. When the cookies have firmed up, slide the parchment to a wire cooling rack and cool completely.
Store cookies properly. Most should be stored in covered plastic containers or tins.
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