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Cookies for rookies

September 26, 2012

I know, I know. This post isn’t specifically about a pastry bag, but if you don’t have a decent cookie to decorate on, you’re screwed before you begin. It all comes down to how good your recipe is. It took me a looong time to find a reliable rolled sugar cookie recipe. That’s a problem when it comes to “basic recipes” – there are so many to choose from and a majority aren’t any good. Many that I have tried over the years spread when baked, were too greasy, or lacked the sweet vanilla aroma required to be considered a good cookie. Questions arise when there are problems: Should I chill it overnight? Not at all? Is there too much butter? Not enough? Use shortening? Dough too wet? Not enough leavener? The self-doubt crawls in and you realize that a simple sugar cookie recipe is kicking your ass.

Luckily, I visited my local decorator shop and signed up for some cookie decorating classes. Our instructor, Sharon, who is super nice and super talented, gave us a printout of the recipe she uses. It turned out fantastic! The cookies aren’t dense or greasy and they don’t lose their shape in the oven. Huzzah! The difference in her recipe is that she uses confectioner’s sugar in place of white granulated sugar. Another tip she handed out is if you are going to chill your dough, it’s much easier to roll out the dough (pre-chill) and layer it between parchment paper before sticking it in the fridge. I’ve used this trick for every chilled cookie dough recipe since. After looking for tips and tricks for cookies online, I found a sugar cookie recipe that is the same as Sharon’s at the amazingly talented Sweet Sugarbelle’s site. She is so talented and gives this lowly decorator the confidence to attempt to re-create her brilliant ideas.

Some other tips to take with you:

  • Weigh out your ingredients with a scale (you’d be surprised how much amounts of ingredients can fluctuate when measured)
  • Use confectioner’s sugar in place of flour when rolling our cookies.
  • Separate your dough into smaller, more manageable portions for better control.
  • To ensure even thickness on your cookies, try some dough rolling strips or these rubber band rings to go around the rolling pin.
  • To guarantee even baking, I bake one sheet at a time, center rack, rotating the pan 180 degrees halfway through. If this is unavoidable and you have to do two sheets: switch their positions (bottom to top / top to bottom) rotating the pans 180 degrees halfway through.
  • Line your cookie sheets with parchment paper or Silpat liners.
  • Always cool your cookie sheets before reusing them (if you have decent sheets, run them under cool water to quicken this up).
  • Visit your local library for cookbooks and cookie decorating books. I’m a total Amazon whore, so I always go there first and look at the highest rated/most popular and check my library’s collections.
  • Check out ‘What’s Cooking America’ for some more informative cookie tips if you have any other questions!

From → Pastry Bag

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