Cookie Baking Made Easy

By Joanne Callahan

Nothing symbolizes the holidays better than a cookie! These edible wonders can be disguised in many shapes and forms, and can encompass fruits, nuts or jam. You name it; it can probably be put into a cookie!

One of my favorite things to do around the holidays is to pour over all my cookbooks (which are many); as well as browse the endless websites that lend themselves exclusively to the art of the cookie. Each year I vow to make a few batches of something totally new to me, as well as my old standbys, and this year will be no different.

A frustrating kitchen dilemma is how to measure sticky or greasy things, such as corn syrup or shortening. Welcome to the wonderful world of the professional adjustable measuring cup. This true kitchen gem comes in 2 sizes (1 cup or 2 cup) and makes measuring everything a snap. Simply adjust the cup to the exact measurement you need, which is clearly written on the sides of the cylinder. Fill the cup with your ingredient, push up the stand and watch it scrape the sides of the cup, getting out every last ounce. This cup can be used for any wet or dry ingredient, so it may become the only cup you ever use. One crack at this cup, and you will wonder how you ever got along without it.

Do you ever wonder how other people get their cookies all the same size? Do you struggle trying to dole out the dough with your kitchen teaspoon only to get different size cookies, some of which burn in the oven and some that come out underdone? Well, those troubles are over with a cookie scoop. With this handy little tool, all of your drop cookies will come out the same shape and size. When you are done baking cookies for the day, this tool can also be used to make perfect sized meatballs for your soup and little sherbet or melon balls for dessert. With just the flick of your wrist, all of your cookies will come out perfect each and every time.

Are you still using those sticky baking sprays on your cookie sheets? Don't you just hate the way the spray bakes on and leaves a gooey brown mess that cannot be cleaned no matter how hard you scrub? Well, you can scratch that chore off your list with Silpat Non-Stick Baking Sheets.  I cannot begin to tell you how easy even the stickiest cookie (or any other gooey treat) just slides off these sheets, time after time. Not only will you be baking grease-free, but your baked goods will come out evenly done as these sheets conduct heat efficiently all around. These are truly a treat to own.

Now that you're done baking all of your cookies, the fun part comes...decorating them. If you don't want your goodies to look like all the rest, try decorating with gold or silver dragees. They are both a creative and edible addition to almost any baked good.

How about personalizing your cookies this year? You can even make edible place cards out of some of them. It's easy to do this with candywriters. The possibilities are endless, and the tubes can be re-sealed for use at a future time.

Now that you've baked and decorated your cookies, the time has come to package them for giving. Cookie boxes are one of the best ways to transport your treasures so they arrive in one piece. Cookie window boxes allow the recipient to see the contents before opening and can be decorated with ribbons, bows or labels.