2009-12-03 / Features

Tips To Make Holiday Cookie Baking Go Smoothly

Jam thumbprints, peanut butter blossoms, sugar cookies decorated with colored sugars and icings and gingerbread cookies – just the images of them in your mind can conjure up the smells of yummy Christmas cookies baking in the oven.

It is the season to be making Christmas cookies. Whether they’re for your family, a cookie exchange, treats for the office or a gift, cookies of all shapes, sizes, and flavors are always a hit. If you haven’t started your baking yet this year, here are some tips from the folks at Gold Medal flour to help make your cookie baking a success.

Assemble ingredients and equipment before you start. Read through the entire recipe to make sure you have enough time for all of the directions. Also, bring your shortening and butter to room temperature, which could take about a half hour for refrigerated items.

Use accurate measurements. Liquid measuring cups – usually made from glass or clear plastic with a pouring spout – are great for liquid ingredients, but graduated dry measuring cups give you the most accurate amount for flour or sugar. Use a spoon to add your Gold Medal flour to the cup, and level it off with the straight edge of a knife.

Try chilling the cookie dough before rolling out and cutting shapes. Chilled dough is a bit stiffer – holding its shape better so you can transfer the cut shapes to your cookie sheet. This also works for cookies that are dropped on pans in rolled balls or spoonfuls. They won’t spread as much during baking.

Keep the size of your cookies uniform. Whether rolling balls or spooning dough onto the cookie sheet, make sure that all cookies are the same size to ensure uniform baking. And make sure your cookie sheets are at least 2 inches narrower than your oven to allow the heat to circulate.

Decorating cookies is easier with the right tools. If you have a decorating bag, adding frosting and icing to cookies is very easy. You can create your own by cutting off a tiny corner of a heavy plastic freezer bag to make a writing tip. Fill the bag with your icing and gently squeeze the icing down toward the hole.

Store any uneaten cookies so that they last longer. Crisp and thin cookies store well in a container with a loose-fitting cover. And if humidity does soften them, crisp them up again in a 300 F. oven for three to five minutes. Soft cookies should be stored in a tightly covered container with a slice of bread to keep them soft.

For some great holiday baking recipes, visit GoldMedalFlour. com or BettyCrocker. com. And try this family favorite cookie recipe for Russian Tea Cakes from Betty Crocker at your next holiday event.
Russian Tea Cakes
Makes four dozen cookies
1 c. butter or margarine, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 cups Gold Medal all-purpose
flour
3/4 cup finely chopped nuts
1/4 teaspoon salt
Powdered sugar

Heat oven to 400 F. Mix butter, powdered sugar and vanilla in a large bowl. Stir in the flour, nuts and sugar until the dough holds together. Shape dough into 1- inch balls. Place about 1 inch apart on an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake 10 to 12 minutes until set, but not brown. Remove from the cookie sheet and cool slightly on a wire rack. Roll warm cookies in powdered sugar, let cool. Roll in powdered sugar again.

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