This is Why Your Cookies Suck

Face it, you're sitting there with those grocery store bought cookies that taste like cavity-inducing sugar bombs because you suck at making cookies.  Stop buying that garbage and make some awesome treats at home with a few tips and tricks from the master.

Double Peanut Butter Cookie Perfection!


Are you a victim of the following culinary blunders?  I've got solutions!


The Blob:
Thanks to Granger Babies for the photo
You know the type, each cookie is like a snowflake, in the worst possible way.  Not only do blobby cookies lack a uniform appearance, but this also causes uneven baking!  The two spoon approach doesn't work as well as you think it does, and there are a few different solutions for a blob-free batch of cookies.  Don't like getting your hands dirty?  Invest in a disher!  Also known as a cookie scoop, this amazingly handy tool looks like an oversized, spring-action melon baller, and they come in a variety of sizes for small, large, or medium cookies.  A disher is the best way to make your cookies a uniform size and shape, and will also let them bake evenly for a better taste and texture.  Don't want to spend a few bucks on a new kitchen gadget?  The chill and slice method works for a variety of cookie doughs, just make sure your dough is nice and cold before you slice it, or you won't get those near perfect circles.  If you have dull knives that can't get through a dense dough, try fishing wire (unused please) instead.  Not a fan of disc cookies?  You can measure and roll too.  Use a measuring spoon to get a uniform size (most recipes call for each cookie to be about a tablespoon), and then roll each cookie into a sphere and place on a prepared cookie sheet for baking.  Don't let the dough get too warm though, or your creations will become the next cookie catastrophe:


The Salvador Dali, aka: the Melt-Down:

Credit to ExpertPages.com for the image
Pretty sure most of you are familiar with the surrealist art by legendary artist, Salvador Dali, his piece titled, "The Persistence of Memory" in particular.  If not, go read a book, get cultured, and freakin' learn something.  That's what these melted cookies remind me of, but don't think the artistic excuse is going to get you any approval from your taste testers.  You turned what would be an excellent sweet treat into an ugly, crusty ,burnt sugar saucer.  Why they suck:  two fundamental factors cause this malice mishap.  First, you let the butter (or whatever fat you're using in your recipe) get too warm before baking.  This causes premature spreading of the cookie, before the baking soda has a chance to give it some height.  The answer is simple in this case, if you notice your cookies spreading too far, chill your dough for at least 15-20 minutes before you get them back in the oven.  If that didn't work, you're either baking at a higher temp than instructed, or your oven has calibration issues (let's hope it's the former and not the latter).  The first one is an easy fix, just set your temp correctly the first time (pay attention and follow the directions).  The second one, you've got bigger issues afoot that involve a repair guy and your hard-earned moolah.

The Crowder:

From Eleni Drinks Tea
So you thought that adding a few extra servings of cookie dough would save you oodles of baking time, or maybe you have no concept of distance and measurement.  Either way, these terrible ideas make your cookies suffer!  I understand, people are busy, and on the go, but let's not forget quality over quantity.  You might be the person that brought the cookies to the bake sale early, but you'll be the person that brought the ugly ones that don't get sold.  You eat with your eyes first, after all.  Don't rush them, geez!  If you're not a victim of rushed and crowded cookies, then you might have an issue with the concept of space.  Use a ruler or measuring tape if you have to, the average 1 tablespoon of cookie dough should be spaced apart about 3 inches apart to allow for spreading without crowding.  If you still get perfect that technique, there are some no-brainer cookie sheets with spacing guides that do the placement for you.  Now that you're cookies are shaped like perfect circles of deliciousness, you might look underneath to find the next confectionery faux pas:

The Fanny McBurntbottom:

Image courtesy of Downtown Dish 

Nothing says "womp, womp," like the notorious burnt-bottom cookie!  I can tolerate eating any of the previous dessert disasters, but biting into that charred crust is anything but appetizing.  Many novice bakers have come to accept this as normal, but don't give in!  The number one reason that many discouraged cookie monsters face is rack height.  The oven rack, that is.  When you bake cookies, move your oven rack to the highest, or second to highest grooves (before you pre-heat the oven of course).  This pulls the cookie sheet a bit further away from the lower heating element and significantly lessens the risk of overheating your pan, which burns your cookies.  Another way to prevent the scorched nightmare is to use a lighter colored cookie sheet.  The darker the color, the more heat it retains (which will over-bake/burn the bottom of your cookies before the top part has a chance to bake from the ambient heat in your oven).  If you're not looking to expand or re-do your cookware collection, no worries, I always use aluminium foil over my cookie sheets, and it must be shiny side down to prevent excess heat reflection to the cookies.  Sometimes I use parchment paper to line my cookie pans as well.  It also makes for easy clean up!  If you're environment-conscious, you can always invest in a silicon baking liner.  It's a win-win.  Still getting burnt cookies?  Check your oven temp.  If it's too high, lower it.  Most cookie recipes fall between baking temps of 325-375 degrees, so make sure you're reading the recipe carefully.  If it's still too hot, you might have temperature calibration issues (refer back to the melt-down cookies for reference).

Just remember these techniques and details in your baking process and you'll have those picture perfect cookies that will make everyone jealous!  Pay attention and stop rushing, and your cookies won't suck..

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