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Frequently Asked Cookie-Baking Questions
by Michelle Jones, Founder of

Q - In your recipes, what does c., tsp., and T. mean?

A- These are standard recipe abbreviations for ingredient measurements here in the U.S. and the editing format we use for our recipes.

c. = cup  |  tsp. = teaspoon  |  T. = tablespoon

Q - How long can cookie dough be refrigerated?

A - As with many perishable foods, I would store it no longer than one week. If you need to store it a week or longer, go ahead and freeze the cookie dough right after making it. I freeze my cookie dough frequently and the cookies bake up just fine.

Q - How long can cookie dough stay in the freezer? 

A - You can safely store cookie dough in the freezer for up to 6 months. For more tips that will help your cookies freeze well, read my articles, Tips for Storing and Freezing Cookies, and Frozen Gourmet Cookie Dough.

Q - How long can I store baked cookies?

A - One to two months. Make sure they are stored in an airtight container. And, make sure they are completely cooled before placing them in the freezer for storage.

Q - How can I ship cookies and keep them fresh? I want to mail some homemade cookies to my Mom for her birthday. 

A - Home baked cookies make a wonderful gift for friends and family out of town. It's almost like having them over for a visit. I've been shipping cookies since the early 90s and have some great tips for you. Read my article, How to Ship Cookies So They Will Arrive Fresh and Undamaged.

Q - How do you get cookies to be soft and not crunchy?

A - Keep cookies soft by following these steps.  First, do not over bake them. Bake the cookies just until they are golden brown, not dark brown.  Next, don't leave them on the cookie sheets for more than a minute or two. The cookies will continue baking on the hot sheet even after you have removed them from the oven.  And finally, store them in an air-tight container as soon as they are cooled.  If you leave cookies out in the open for too long even soft baked cookies will turn into crunchy ones.

Q - Should I use butter or margarine for baking cookies? Or vegetable shortening?

A - For most cookies, I only use and recommend unsalted butter. Real butter makes the most delicate, delicious cookies. Margarine will compromise the taste because they are made of who knows what, and the texture because margarine also contains water. Vegetable shortening such as Crisco® or Butter Flavored Crisco® makes for a thicker cookie. It's certainly an option, though I still prefer real butter. 

Q - Can I omit salt from my cookies?

Yes, you can leave out the salt when baking cookies. Most people prefer the taste of sweets with a little added salt. I've heard chefs say it enhances the flavor. I believe cookies are delicious either way. If you use salted butter you can definitely eliminate the extra salt from the recipe. When I use unsalted butter, which is most of the time, I go ahead and add the salt as called for. It is usually a very small amount anyway.

Q - Do I need to use a cooling rack? Where can I buy them?

A - Well, you can certainly make delicious home baked cookies without a cooling rack, but I DO recommend them.  When you allow cookies to cool directly on the cookie sheet, the bottom of the cookies continue to bake.  Although it may be only a slight difference, the cooling racks do help that perfect cookie stay perfect. I have a set of three metal cooling racks that stack on top of each other to save counter space. You can find them in the baking department of most discount stores, sometimes even the grocery store.

Q - Why are my cookies coming out flat? What am I doing wrong?

A - There are several things you can do to prevent cookies from spreading out too much while baking. 

* Don't put your cookie dough on a hot baking sheet. If baking more than a dozen cookies at a time, you'll need to use two baking sheets (always use the cooled off one for each new batch of cookies), or allow enough time between baking for your first sheet to cool off. 

* Chill your dough in the fridge and keep it chilled while each batch is baking.  Works great!

* Using some types of margarines will make your cookies spread more because they contain too much water.  Experiment with different brands, including real butter. Of course, shortening will also prevent cookies from spreading, but you will also sacrifice some taste.

* Did you grease your baking sheets?  It's very rare for a cookie recipe to call for greased baking sheets, usually this step is used for cakes and muffins.  The reason is, cookies have enough butter (fat) in them already to spread and be lifted off the sheet easily with a spatula. That is, as long as they are not left on the baking sheet or left in the oven too long, to burn... heaven forbid!  

* If your cookies still continue to spread, try freezing the dough first. When ready to bake, let the dough soften up just enough so you can get the spoon in to scoop them out and put them on the baking sheet.  This will definitely keep your cookies from spreading!

Q - Can you tell me how to have a cookie swap? I want to have a cookie party for Christmas, but I'm not sure how.

A - Yes, I have some great tips for hosting a cookie exchange, or cookie swap as some may call it. I enjoyed several fun events back in the day and they were always delightful. Read my article, 10 Tips for Hosting a Successful Cookie Exchange.

Have a cookie or baking question?  

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Copyright © by Michelle Jones. All rights reserved.