10 Holiday Baking Tips

Slade Grove knows cookies. He is the talented baker behind Wicked Kitchen Gourmet and Cookies from Home. Here, he share his top holiday cookie-baking tips, sure to turn even the most average home baker in a regular Food Network-caliber star. According to Grove, “Baking is a labor of love and making the perfect cookie is all about timing, chemistry, and mastering techniques.” Be sure to try Grove’s cookie recipe below.

1 – Read and re-read the recipe, including the ingredient list and instructions.

2 – Always measure your ingredients exactly. Use the dip-and-sweep technique and check at eye-level to see if you have the proper amount.

3 – Always use fresh and high-quality ingredients. Items like baking soda and flour do, in fact, go stale. Check the best use by dates.

4 – Be careful about using substitutions. Milk chocolate chips and semi-sweet chips are not the same and usually can’t be exchanged for each other.

5 – Pre-measure and prepare work surface before starting the mixing/baking process. Arrange everything in a work area. It will make mixing and baking go much faster.

6 – Make sure to preheat the oven. If you use convection, lower the temp of your oven by 25 degree. Convection baking cooks faster.

7 – Ensure uniformity of your cookies. Smaller cookies will bake much faster than larger ones. If you mix and match on your baking sheet, you will end up with some that are raw and others that are burnt.

7 – Make sure to rotate your baking sheet half way through the baking cycle to ensure even baking.

8 – Watch the baking times. The most common mistake is over-baking the cookie. Baked goods continue to bake when removed from the oven. Look for that lightly brown edge on the cookie and a dull/matte finish on the top.

9 – When storing, keep cookies in an air tight container. You can also freeze most cookies. Make sure cookies are completely cool before storing.

10 – Give them as a gift. What a great way to tell someone you’re thinking about them or to say thank you. Your time, energy and effort in making them fresh baked cookies will be much appreciated.

Sugar Cookies
Makes 2 dozen cookies
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon table salt
2 Sticks unsalted butter – room temp
1 cup granulated sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar (for rolling dough in)
1 tablespoon light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 Degrees F.  In standing mixer fitted with paddle attachment or with hand mixer, beat butter, 1 cup granulated sugar, and brown sugar at medium speed until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes, scraping down sides of bowl with rubber spatula as needed. Add egg and vanilla; beat at medium speed until combined. Add dry ingredients and beat at low speed until just combined, about 30 seconds, scraping down bowl as needed. Place sugar for rolling in shallow bowl. Roll dough to small golf ball size balls and drop into sugar to coat. Place on silpat or parchment lined cookie sheet and bake until cookies are light brown around edges and just set and very lightly colored in center, 12 to 15 minutes. Cool cookies on baking sheet about 3 minutes; using wide metal spatula, transfer cookies to wire rack and cool to room temperature.

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