Choose cookie sheets with very low sides or no sides at all. The pan should be dull finished and of a heavy-gauge aluminum. Use lighter-colored cookie sheets since dark-colored ones sometimes cause the bottoms of cookies to overbrown. Cookie sheets with a nonstick coating let you skip the greasing step, although the dough might not spread as much, giving you thicker, less crisp cookies. Only grease the cookie sheet when the recipe instructs you to, otherwise the cookies may spread too much and become too flat.
Use rectangular and square cake pans to bake bar cookies and brownies. Other types of cookies won't bake as evenly in a pan with an edge.
Cookie sheets that are insulated often will give you pale cookies with soft centers. If you are making cookies with a large amount of butter, such as sugar cookie cutouts, the butter may melt and leak out before the dough is set. And, if you bake cookies on an insulated cookie sheet long enough to brown them on the bottoms, the rest of the cookie may get too dry.
Cookie dough may be prepared using either a handheld electric mixer or a standard mixer. Portable (handheld) electric mixers are perfect for light jobs and short mixing periods. If you use a handheld mixer, you may need to stir in the last amount of flour by hand because the dough is too stiff for the mixer to handle easily.
To check the accuracy of your oven temperature, set the temperature at 350 degrees F and let it heat at least 10 minutes. Place an oven thermometer near the center of the oven. Close the oven door and let it heat at least 5 minutes. If the thermometer registers too high or too low, reduce or increase the setting by the number of degrees difference. If the oven is more than 50 degrees off, have the thermostat adjusted.
Continued on page 4: Storage