Don't let this novice mistake ruin Mama's famous chocolate chip cookies.
With Mama and Betty Crocker on our side, it's hard to imagine making any sugar cookie, gingersnap, or peanut butter blossom that doesn't result in a standing ovation around the dessert table. At Christmas time, we're making dozens of cookies to share with our friends, neighbors, and even postman. When spring rolls around, we're busy baking up a storm for baby showers, luncheons, and church potlucks. Cookies are one of our favorite treats to whip up on the weekend, because just one batch of the recipe goes a long way. Needless to say: there's always an occasion that deserves these beloved sweets.
There are many tips that we've shared through the years to make cookie rookies into seasoned bakers. In The Southern Cookie Book, readers learned bake with precision, crisp up cookie edges, and freeze batches of unfrosted cookies just in case company shows up unannounced.
One of the biggest conundrums that novice bakers can run into is a cookie that spreads too much in the oven. You may have a perfect batch of Nan's Molasses Crinkles the first go-round, but the second batch of cookies is always trickier to master. The cause of this problem is, very often, a hot cookie sheet.
If you drop cookie dough onto a cookie sheet that's just come out of the oven, your cookies will spread around the edges and bake unevenly in the center. Wonder why this happens? According to The Kitchn, you should blame the butter (and then grab a second cookie sheet to save the rest of your cookies!).
WATCH: Basic Butter Cookies Dough
Many cookie recipes call for softened butter, which, when creamed with sugar and folded into your dry ingredients, gives you a nice, well-combined dough. If you put that cookie dough on a hot baking sheet, the butter begins to melt prematurely, which wrecks its even distribution in your recipe. The bottom and edges of your cookies will begin to spread, leaving the center of your cookies to bake unequally (imagine a hat-shaped cookie). Although you'll sometimes luck out with crispy edges, more than likely you'll have a cookie that's hard and brittle on the outside and not-quite-right in the middle.
To avoid this problem, refrigerate extra dough between batches, and cool your baking sheet on a wire rack (or other spot that allows for airflow) before dropping your next round of cookies. Your sheet pan should be almost completely at room temperature before you add your next dozen. To save yourself a little time, it's certainly worth the small investment in a second baking sheet to add into the rotation; your first sheet can cool completely while your second sheet is popped in the oven.