Bake perfect Christmas cookies with expert baking techniques, including ingredient substitutions, freezing and storing tips, and more.
Lining cookie sheets with parchment paper or nonstick baking mats eliminates the need for greasing. Liners also make it possible to lift a whole batch of cookies at once -- and they make cleanup easy.
Always rotate baking sheets, usually once about halfway through the baking time. Turn the sheets front to back, and, if you have sheets on both the upper and lower racks of the oven, swap their positions. Most ovens have hot and cold spots, so this will ensure that the cookies bake evenly.
It can be difficult to dry every nook and cranny of a cookie cutter after you've washed it, leaving those made of tin or copper more likely to rust or tarnish. Spread just-washed cutters on a clean baking sheet, and place them in the oven (while it's still warm) for several minutes. The heat will evaporate any excess moisture. Remove, and cool thoroughly.
When you're ready to bake, waiting for cold butter to soften can seem to take forever. Here's how to hurry the process along: Over a mixing bowl, shred the amount of butter you need on a grater. The little pieces will soften faster than a solid stick. In no time, the butter will be bake-worthy.
Save the egg yolks when a recipe calls for using only whites, or vice versa. If you don't plan to use the eggs immediately, pour them into an airtight container and freeze. To prevent the yolks from gelling, add a pinch of salt or a heaping teaspoon of sugar for every four yolks. The day before you use the eggs, place the container in the refrigerator, and allow them to thaw overnight.
For brownies and bar cookies that don't crumble or stick when you remove them from the pan, try this: Butter the baking dish, then place a sheet of parchment, also buttered, inside, allowing about 2 inches to extend beyond two opposite sides. Bake according to the recipe's instructions, and let cool. Pull up on the parchment to lift the dessert from the pan before cutting.
Instead of: 1 cup self-rising flour
You can use: 1 cup all-purpose flour plus 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder and 1/8 teaspoon salt
Instead of: 1 cup cake flour
You can use: 1 cup minus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
Instead of: 1 cup whole-wheat flour
You can use: 7/8 cup all-purpose flour plus 2 tablespoons wheat germ
Brown Sugar and Molasses
Instead of: 1 cup light-brown sugar
You can use: 1 cup white sugar plus 1 1/2 tablespoons molasses
Instead of: 1 cup molasses
You can use: 3/4 cup dark-brown sugar plus 1/4 cup water
Many kinds of cookie dough can be frozen raw and baked later. After the cookies are formed, place them on a parchment-lined baking sheet and chill in the freezer until firm, about one hour. Transfer to resealable bags, and freeze for up to a month, until ready to bake. There is no need to thaw the dough; however, you may need to add a few minutes to the baking time.
Gifting homemade candy never goes out of style. Find our best fudges, brittles, and more.Get the Recipes
Craft a really special Christmas with these festive projects and decorations.See the Projects
Our app includes How-to Videos, Built-in Timers, Shopping Lists, and more.