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Happy-Gourmand

Top 10 cookie-making tips

In an effort to reduce the stress of your holiday season, I thought I would keep it simple this week.

I'm offering advice to help increase your chances of success when baking.

You might not need to bake numerous dozens for a cookie exchange, but I would bet that even if you aren’t keen, someone in your household is.

Why not enjoy it? After all, who doesn’t need some holiday cheer…

WORK SMARTER, NOT HARDER

if you’re not much of a baker, don’t take on too much. Try something straight-forward like lebkuchen. (They’re hard to pronounce, but easy to make), or squares that can be baked in a pan.

If you’re really stuck, buy some gingerbread and decorate them. (If you are listening to carols at the same time, you can give yourself bonus points.)

KNOW YOUR OVEN

Let's hope the temperature is at least accurate; f you’re not sure, use a thermometer inside to check.

Do you know the difference between regular baking and convection baking? (Convection will give you a crisper, browner crust on your baking.)

Is there more heat at the bottom or top of your oven? You can always double-up your baking pans if you find your cookies burn on the bottom.

FOLLOW DIRECTIONS

If you try a new recipe, even if it’s a type of cookie you know well, follow the directions to get an accurate representation of the cookie.

Baking is more of a science than savoury cooking most times, because of the chemistry involved with leaveners and spices.

Once you have a consistent result, it’s easier to judge what changes will work with the recipe.

USE A SILICONE MAT

Save yourself the hard work of scraping baking sheets with baked-on sprinkles and burned bits by using one of these nifty things.

It also saves the extra calories from greasing your sheets. (They can be used for savoury items, too – this is an excellent gift for a cook!)

BUY GOOD INGREDIENTS AND TREAT THEM WITH RESPECT

You are making something special, and it’s taking precious time to do it, so don’t skimp out on ingredients, and don’t make do. If the recipe calls for dark chocolate, don’t use a Hershey milk bar.

If you are using nuts, try roasting them for a few minutes before adding them to the recipe and you’ll get a richer flavour.

THERE IS NOT JUST ONE GOOD CHOCOLATE CHIP (OR SHORTBREAD) COOKIE

Don’t be afraid to try more than one recipe for the same style of cookie, or to think outside the box with an old favourite.

Just because Grandma used walnuts in her cookies doesn’t mean you can’t try making them once in a while with pecans, or dried cherries, or using white chocolate chips.

TRY ROLLING THE DOUGH BEFORE YOU RE-FRIGERATE IT

This tip comes from Dorie Greenspan, one of the cookie-baking gurus out there. Her latest book, Dorie’s Cookies, has 170 cookie recipes.

 It's a sensible tip, when you think about it – the dough is harder to roll when it’s cold and also when it’s too warm (think sticky).

Roll out the dough between sheets of parchment paper and then refrigerate it.

LET THE KIDS (OR THE PARENTS) HELP

There is no wrong way to decorate a cookie. Share a memory, and let everyone pitch in.

If you need to have a holiday cocktail to help you chill out first, then so be it. Take photos of the mess, and let yourself laugh when Junior or Grandma comes up with something goofy.

Just remember, the holidays – and cookies – are about sharing.

DON’T BE AFRAID

Just because some cookies are hard to pronounce, or take lots of steps, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try them. Remember, it’s OK to think outside the box, or even the cookie jar.

SHARE YOUR COOKIES

You will be rewarded many times over. You don't have to enter in a cookie exchange, but if you’re keen, fill your boots.

Even a few cookies shared at the office, or with the neighbour’s kids, or a roommate, will bring smiles and a twinkle in the eye of even the hardest heart.

If the Grinch had been given a cookie, he would have been able to carve the roast beast many years earlier.

Happy baking, and bon appetit!



More Happy Gourmand articles

About the Author

Kristin Peturson-Laprise is a customer experience specialist by trade, which means she is someone passionate about people having a good time. 

Her company, Wow Service Mentor, helps businesses enhance their customer experience through hands-on training, service programs, and special event coordination.

Kristin enjoys her own experiences too, and that is what she writes about in this column. She and her husband Martin Laprise (also known as Chef Martin, of The Chef Instead) love to share their passion for food and entertaining.  

Kristin says:

"Wikipedia lists a gourmand as a person who takes great pleasure in food. I have taken the concept of gourmandise, or enjoying something to the fullest, in all parts of my life. I love to grow and cook food, and I loved wine enough to become a Sommelier. I call a meal a success when I can convey that 'sense of place' from where the food has come . . . the French call that terroir, but I just call it the full experience. It might mean tasting the flavours of my own garden, or transporting everyone at the table to a faraway place, reminiscent of travels or dreams we have had."

 

E-mail Kristin at:  [email protected]

Check out her website here:  www.wowservicementor.com

 



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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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