Each cookie collection has its own personality. Improve the odds of having them turn out great every time.
1. Use the right fat. Recipes calling for butter or margarine will produce good results with either, as long as you use a margarine that contains at least 80 percent vegetable oil. If it's not clear from the front of the box, check the nutrition label: The margarine should have 100 calories per tablespoon. Margarines with less than 80 percent vegetable oil have a high water content and can result in tough cookies that spread excessively, stick to the pan, or don't brown well.
2. Measure accurately. Nested metal or plastic measuring cups are intended for dry ingredients, such as flour and sugar. When you measure flour, stir it in the canister to lighten it (you don't need to sift). Gently spoon flour into a dry measuring cup and level the top with the straight edge of a metal spatula or knife. Don't pack the flour into the cup or tap it with the spatula or on the counter to level. Glass or plastic cups with a spout are meant only for liquids. If you use a liquid-measuring cup for flour, you're likely to get an extra tablespoon or more of flour per cup, which is enough to make cookies dry.
3. Chill dough properly. The chilling time given in a recipe is the optimum time for easy rolling and shaping. If you need to speed up the chilling, wrap the dough and place it in the freezer. About 20 minutes of chilling in the freezer is equal to one hour in the refrigerator. Always chill rolled or sliced cookies made with margarine in the freezer.
4. Choose the right cookie sheets. Look for shiny, heavy-gauge cookie sheets with very low or no sides. Avoid dark cookie sheets, which may cause cookie bottoms to overbrown. Use jelly-roll pans (15x10x1-inch baking pans) only for bar cookies. Other types of cookies won't bake evenly in a pan with an edge. If you must use such a pan for cookies, turn it over and bake on the bottom. Nonstick cookie sheets let you skip the greasing step. However, the dough may not spread as much, resulting in thicker, less crisp cookies.
-I'm Sue with the Better Homes and Gardens test kitchen. Think all cookie sheets are created equal? Think again, there are some important characteristics to this essential piece of kitchen equipment that will help you bake perfect cookies every time. Here's what to look for. In the test kitchen, we use that classic cookie sheet, one that has one or two angled edges while all the other sides are edgeless. They are really helpful for getting a spatula underneath the cookies after basking. Now, if you don't have these, don't worry. You can still bake cookies. If your sheets have an edge, you can flip over and bake on the bottom or just arrange the dough so that the cookies don't spread into the sides during baking, but not matter what you bake the cookies on, it's important that it's made out of heavy duty metal. Flimsy, inexpensive pans, don't conduct heat well, caused uneven baking, and they tend to warp in the oven, which can cause misshapen cookies. Another important characteristic is the cookie sheet's color. In the test kitchen, we prefer light colored ones over those with darker nonstick coatings, which can cause over browning. If you all you have is a dark sheet, here is our secret for getting around that, simply cover it with foil and bake the cookies as directed and I just have to tell about parchment paper. Lining cookie sheets with parchment make for easy cleanup, no greasing required, even cooking, and minimal spreading. Many grocery stores carry it, but if you don't have it, simply for follow the recipe for instructions on how on how the pan should be prepped. Many call for a lightly greased sheet, but it all depends on the type of cookie. With Better Homes and Gardens cookie sheets secrets to success, you will be on your way to baking the best cookies ever