Barbara Jordan, an American politician and civil rights leader famed for her inspired speeches, once said “Think what a better world it would be if we all, the whole world, had cookies and milk about three o’clock every afternoon and then lay down on our blankets for a nap.”  The nap may be out of reach for many of us, but here are some tips for baking the cookies:

o            Read the recipe all the way through and assemble all of the equipment and ingredients before you begin.

o            Make sure your butter is at room temperature (If it’s not, creaming it will be more difficult – I usually leave it out of the refrigerator overnight before baking).  Cream the butter, then add the sugar and beat thoroughly until the mixture is light and fluffy.

o            Gently add the dry ingredients and mix lightly.  Do not overmix or your cookies will be tough.

o            The baking pan you use will affect the color of your cookies, how quickly they bake and how much they spread.  Heavy gauge aluminum or steel pans are usually first choice.  Non-stick pans are useful for some cookies.

o            Cookies baked on greased pans will spread further, and therefore be thinner, than cookies baked on ungreased pans.  Let the pans cool before regreasing between batches of cookies.

o            Cookies baked on parchment or aluminum foil lined pans are less likely to burn than cookies baked on unlined pans.  Cut parchment or foil sheets in advance and change the sheet between each batch of cookies.

o            Preheat your oven at least 30 minutes before baking.

o            Follow timing instructions carefully, preferably using an oven timer.  Overbaked cookies are, well, overbaked and dry.  Since ovens vary, start testing your cookies a minute or two before the baking time given in the recipe.  If you are baking more than one sheet of cookies at the same time, switch them between shelves and turn them around halfway through the baking period  so that all of the cookies bake evenly.

o            Once they come out of the oven, let them sit for few minutes, then, using a thin metal spatula, transfer them to wire racks, placing them so that they do not touch each other, to cool completely.

o            When they are completely cool, store in airtight containers.  If the cookies are delicate, store them in layers separated by waxed paper.

o            Cookies can be wrapped and frozen for up to 2 months.  Thaw at room temperature.

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