Cooking and baking time has arrived! It seems to follow right on the heels of the start of fall.
I can smell the aroma of pumpkin spices, cinnamon, and vanilla (as well as chocolate!) in the air.
Families are beginning to dream of cool weather mixed with warm family favorite treats, especially cookies.
The upcoming holiday season is calling us to get our cookie bake on!
Unfortunately, we may be remembering the fails in our cookie making as much as our joys at sharing the treats during our many gatherings of family and friends.
Who hasn’t burned a few batches or made a few overly crunchy cookies that even the kids won’t eat?
We’ve all seen the flat cookies with chocolate chips that look like mountains compared to the cookie dough.
Or how about the shaped sugar cookies that spread out so much their identity became a secret and you didn’t know what color to ice them.
There are some tricks to making the perfect cookie that will help all of us make the Best Cookies Ever this holiday and throughout the year!
Tips for Making the Best Cookies Yet
Sometimes the cookies need a little help. Not every batch is perfect or one you can be proud to share at a holiday event.
Here are some tips to make the bake go a bit easier for a result you can be proud to serve.
(Check out this free printable resource to help you Make the Best Cookies Ever!)
- Check the temperature accuracy of your oven using an oven thermometer. If the oven is not hot enough or overheating, you can adjust the temperature or cooking time to avoid burning the cookies or serving undercooked delights.
- When using butter and eggs, allow them to come to room temperature for a short time before mixing to yield a smoother dough.
- Don’t put the next batch onto a hot cookie tray, allow it to cool off between batches so they don’t spread thin.
- Accurate measurements make better cookies. Properly measure ingredients, especially flour. Use a measuring cup for dry ingredients and level off with the back of the knife, don’t compact the flour. Use measuring spoons for all ingredients, not household flatware.
- Sift lumpy flour and sugars before measuring.
- Use a cookie scoop when portioning out each spoonful so that each cookie is consistently shaped. This allows even cooking for each cookie on the tray without getting some under- or over-done.
- Cool cookies on a wire rack, store them once completely cooled to avoid sticking together.
- Store in airtight containers so that the cookies don’t get stale before they can all be enjoyed (if they last that long)!
Making a Healthier Treat
Many of our kitchens will be full of the smell of the family favorites like chocolate chip, sugar cookie shapes, and thumbprint cookies.
These and others are standbys that we make every year and probably don’t need a recipe anymore because the ingredients are ingrained in our memories.
In addition to finding cookie techniques to make a better cookie – OK, the bestest — we can modify some of our basic ingredients to make a healthier cookie that will still make everyone happy you baked.
Here are some hacks to make a more nutritious cookie:
- Substitute whole wheat flour for half the white flour. When using white flour, pick the unbleached variety.
- Try using another type of flour, such as brown rice flour, buckwheat, tapioca flour, almond flour, coconut flour, oats or oat flour, quinoa flour, or soy flour. You can also use black bean puree instead of flour (1 cup: 1 cup) in some baked goods.
- Substitute puree fruits like applesauce, pureed banana, or pureed plums/prunes to add sweetness and moisture instead of adding fats like butter and oil. You can also use avocado puree in place of oil.
- Reduce the amount of sugars you add or substitute with equal parts sweetness of honey, agave nectar, maple syrup, molasses, yacon syrup, or stevia.
- Add in nutrients in the form of goodies like dried cranberries, figs, dates, raisins, nuts of all kinds, shredded veggies, or coconut.
- Use natural peanut butter in place of reduced fat or other varieties of this nut butter. You can also use various nut butters like almond, macadamia or hazelnut butter in place of peanut butter.
- Try cacao nibs instead of chocolate chips.
- Include batches of oatmeal raisin cookies and other items like homemade granola bars into the rotation so the holidays aren’t all about chocolate chip in the cookie jar.
Save Some Cookie Dough for Next Time
Because we know how much cookies are loved by everyone in the family and all the friends that visit during the holiday season, make a double batch when you whip some up. Get them ready and place in the freezer to cook anytime.
All you need to do is spoon out cookie dough onto a tray and place in freezer for about 2 hours until firm. Transfer spoonfuls into a zippered freezer bag. Label and date including cooking time and temperature. You will always have a batch ready to cook without too much fuss whenever needed.
Enjoy your holidays — and your healthy treats!