Two weeks ago I made a huge (6 dozen) batch of Chocolate Crisp cookies for the United Way kickoff event in my office. I've made these before for the office gang, but inevitably get told how much they like them and can they have the recipe. Since I've made them so many times, I can actually rattle off the ingredients and baking order by memory now! ;)
Drop cookies like these are something my mother never baked and wouldn't start making now. She's all about precision in her baking - piped meringue "Kisses", lemon squares that she measures with a ruler when cutting out, pressed Christmas cookies that are all the same size - you get the idea. So having tips and tricks for drop cookies are what I've learned on my own either with a lot of recipe reading or by watching tons of baking shows on The Food Network. With this particular recipe, I've gotten questions about "how do you get so many out of the batter?", "how do you get them the same size?" - lots of questions I used to ask before I started baking so often.
So here are some of my favourite tips and tricks for drop cookies:
Parchment paper is your best friend for every kind of baking. For about $5 roll, you will have stick-proof cakes and cookies and, after baking cookies you won't have to wash the pans. You can also keep using them over and over for whatever batch you're making - they don't have to be replaced after one time in the oven. It's a must-have at my house.
Use graduated scoops. They make them in lots of sizes, not just as ice cream scoop measure size which is huge! I picked up mine over time at Winners and Homesense and they're invaluable. Your scooped cookies will be the same size, so that you have uniform baking times and know just how many you'll get out of each batch of dough.
Use hot water with your cookie scooping. Lots of cookie doughs are very tacky and wet, so I keep a glass of hot water on hand to dip the scoop into before measuring them out. Place it on a paper towel and tap off the excess water before dipping into your dough, so that you don't have a soggy mess to deal with.
Rotate your pans halfway through baking for any kind of cookie. Until I went to a demonstration with Elizabeth Baird, formerly of Canadian Living Magazine, I didn't know why my cookies were always more brown on one side than the other. Light bulb moment! Half way through baking, rotate your pans from top to bottom oven racks AND rotate the pan from front to back. The back and lower half of any oven are generally hotter, so this allows your cookies to bake evenly.
Have lots of cooling racks ready. Once your pans come out of the oven, for most cookies it's best to wait at least a minute before lifting them off. Generally that means you've got about two dozen waiting to be cooled, it's best to have at least 2 racks waiting to go. I use three, so that I can let two pans cool on the racks and then place the cookies onto the third rack once they can be handled. I have a set of these stacking racks, but keep forgetting about them and using the single ones - must get them out again!
A nice extra - invest in a larger spatula to use as a cookie lifter. This sounds like an unnecessary item, but if you bake a lot and have tried lifting soft cookies with a plastic lifter, you'll know it's not. A spatula like this is generally made of metal and nothing like the thicker silicone type, so it will slide *under* the cookies easily, rather than pushing them around on the pan, into the other warm cookies. Mine is by Wilton and I just love it!
Hope these tips are of help!
(All images courtesty Google.com)