How to make cookies

Article by: Allrecipes staff  |  Picture by: BrooklynKyler
How to make cookies
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Learn how to make cookies with these helpful tips and techniques, which will help you to make cookies - from chocolate chip cookies to oatmeal cookies - perfect every time.

Ingredients are key

Using the correct ingredients is all important when making cookies. For best results, follow the recipe closely and measure ingredients carefully.

Fats

Fats play a major role in the spread of a cookie - whether a cookie keeps its shape or flattens in the oven. Generally, more fat equals flat, crispy cookies while less fat equals puffier, cake-like cookies.

Cookies are made primarily with butter or margarine. Whipped spreads are not suitable for baking.

Margarine is stable and will help cookies keep their original unbaked shapes. Butter melts at body temperature - a much lower temperature than other solid fats - resulting in a 'melt-in-the-mouth' cookie.

Cookies made with butter tend to spread out. If they don't hold their shape after a first try, next time consider lowering the amount of butter, sugar or bicarbonate of soda in the recipe.
Flour

Flour also affects how cookies behave. Most cookie recipes call for plain flour. Both bread flour, with its high protein content, and cake flour, which is high in starch, produce cookies that tend to spread less. (The gluten in the bread flour and the absorbent starch in cake flour are responsible for the similar results.)
Leavening

Baking powder and bicarbonate of soda are the two most common leavening agents in cookies. Bicarb is simply bicarbonate of soda, while baking powder is a combination of bicarbonate of soda plus cream of tartar, an acidic ingredient. Bicarb neutralises the acidity of the dough, allowing the cookies to brown in the oven. Since baking powder already contains its own acid, it will not reduce the acidity in the dough, and the resulting cookies will be puffier and lighter in colour.
Sugars

Like fats, sugars liquefy in the oven. The type and amount of sugar used plays a big role in cookie performance. Caster or granulated sugar makes a crisper cookie than brown soft sugar or honey. Cookies made from brown soft sugar will absorb moisture after baking, helping to ensure that they stay chewy. Most chocolate chip cookie recipes contain both brown and caster sugars. If you lower the amount of sugar called for in a cookie recipe, the final baked cookie will be puffier than its high-sugar counterpart.
Eggs and liquids

Eggs are a binding agent. Liquids can either cause cookies to puff up or spread. If egg is the liquid, it will create a puffy, cake-like texture. Just a tablespoon or two of water or other liquid will help your cookies spread into flatter and crisper rounds. Egg yolks bind the dough and add richness but allow a crisp texture after baking, whereas egg whites tend to make cookies dry and cakey. To make up for the drying effect of the egg whites, extra sugar is often added. This is why cookies made with just egg whites tend to be so sweet - think of macaroons.

Mixing matters

Cookies are not as delicate as cakes, but proper mixing is still important. Some recipes require a creaming step in which the fat and sugars are beaten together until light-coloured and fluffy. Other cookies require a sandy texture, so the fat is rubbed into the flour.

Over-mixing can incorporate too much air into the dough, resulting in flat, overly spread-out cookies. Follow the recipe instructions. Once you combine the dry and wet ingredients, mix until just combined.

Temperature

Unless otherwise specified, ingredients should be at room temperature before mixing. Cookie dough that is chilled before baking will hold its shape better. Rolled and cut-out cookies should be refrigerated before baking for sharper, clearer edges. 'Drop cookies', such as chocolate chip or oatmeal cookies, can be at room temperature before baking; the spoonfuls of dough will spread and flatten out to the desired result.

Equipment

Different baking trays and ovens produce different results. Thin baking trays might allow the bottoms to brown too fast. Special insulated baking trays allow air movement and help cookies bake evenly, but they can be expensive. Semi-thick rimmed baking trays - also called swiss roll tins - are available just about everywhere, and are a fine multipurpose choice. Rather than greasing each baking tray, consider investing in a roll of baking parchment or a silicone liner to make cookie removal and washing up easy.

Follow the recipe's instructions for baking. Invest in an oven thermometer to be sure your oven temperature is calibrated correctly. Generally, cookies are baked in a moderate oven - 180 degrees C / Gas mark 4 - for 8 to 12 minutes, depending on the size of the cookie.

For chewy cookies, allow them to cool on the tray for 3 to 5 minutes before transferring to a cooling rack. For crispier cookies, let cool for one minute on the baking tray before transferring to a wire rack.

Looking for the perfect cookie recipe? Check out our Cookie recipe collection for loads of delectable and easy-to-make cookies!
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