Cookie Sheets

Time to throw out the old and bring in the new.


+ enlarge image Carrot Pumpkin Bars

Before you begin your holiday cookie baking, take a look at the cookie sheets stashed in your cupboard. If they're thin and warped or dark with baked-on grease, or if you have nothing but pans with 1-inch sides, it's time to head to the store for new pans.

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1. Look for shiny, heavy-gauge sheets with very low or no sides. Avoid dark cookie sheets, which may cause cookie bottoms to overbrown.

2. Use jelly-roll pans (15 x 10 x 1-inch baking pans) only for bar cookies. Other types of cookies won't bake evenly in a pan with sides. If you must use this type of pan for other cookies, turn it over and bake on the bottom.

3. Nonstick cookie sheets let you skip the greasing step. However, the dough may not spread as much, resulting in thicker, more cakelike cookies.

4. Insulated cookie sheets slow baking and tend to yield pale cookies with soft centers. You may have trouble when using insulated sheets for cookies that contain a proportion of butter, such as sugar-cookie cutouts, because the butter may melt out before the dough is set. Don't bake cookies on insulated cookie sheets long enough to brown the bottoms because the other parts of the cookies will be too dry. On the other hand, if your oven runs a bit hot or browns cookies rapidly, insulated cookie sheets may improve results.

5. Greasing cookie sheets makes it easier to remove the cookies and to wash the cookie sheet after baking. A light greasing with shortening or a quick spray with nonstick cooking spray is adequate for most recipes. Using too much fat, or greasing when a recipes doesn't call for it, causes cookies to spread excessively, have very thin edges, and brown too quickly around the edges.

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