Robin's Cookie Baking Secrets!

1) Always use freshest ingredients available. I prefer using real butter. Buy new baking soda & baking powder. They tend get weak and ineffective so why waste valuable time & money by having less than perfect cookies?

2) Follow recipe directions to the T. I often hear: "These cookies didn't turn out the way I wanted." I ask what they did. They always reply that they added a little of this and left out a little of that. Be prepared before you bake. A level tsp. means LEVEL. One extra pinch of salt can make them too salty. Not enough sugar, bland. Don't run out of ingredients. A recipe is like a scientific experiment. I encourage you to make up your own recipes....... just don't do it for my party! :)

3) Use "Parchment Baking Paper". Some grocery stores carry it, some don't.  Williams & Sonoma definitely carries it. Pampered Chef carries it, too. Reuse each sheet until they are slightly browned.

4) Bake the cookies 2-4 days before exchange. The most common reason for not attending the cookie exchange is waiting until last minute to bake and not having the time! Who has extra time in December? (The cookies should sit out over night anyway.)

5) Allow the cookies to cool on baking sheet for at least one minute before transferring them to cooling racks to keep them from breaking.

6) Some people tend to over bake their cookies. Follow the recipes time for baking, you can't tell just by looking at them. Sometimes the cookies look under baked in the center, but they're not. Set the timer for a minute earlier, it's easy to bake them some more, impossible to undo over baking. Realize that the oven will be hotter towards the end of your batch. Either lower the temp or pull them out early. The cookies will continue baking for one more minute before you transfer them to the cooling rack. The color of the underside of a cookie should be the same color as the top. A cookie that is crunchy right after baking is over done. They should be moist & chewy and then firm up after sitting out over night.

7) Stack cookies in groups of 6-8, cool on racks overnight. Lay a sheet of wax paper loosely over them. Do not seal cookies for at least 8 hours to let all moisture out. If you seal freshly baked cookies they will crumble. This method allows cookies to remain fresh for at least 3 weeks. Store in cookie tins, layered with wax paper. Keep tins in cool, dry place.

8) Give away small paper plates (Christmas motif, of course!) of cookies, wrapped in Saran and topped with a bow to: friends, relatives, coworkers, bosses, daycare providers, etc.... and remember......... broken cookies have fewer calories!!

Happy Baking! ~Robin

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Robin's Cookie Exchange Page-

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How I learned to bake cookies:
In 1980, the year we got engaged, I started baking cookies with my future mother-in-law, Sylvia Olson. She's an excellent baker who makes fantastically yummy cookies. We always told her that she should open up a bakery. She in turn did a lot of baking with her mother-in-law, the late Anna Olson. (Both my husband's paternal grandparents were from Sweden). My favorite peanut butter cookie recipe came from Anna, (whom I never met, she died in the 1960's.) I can still picture Syl piecing together the three yellowed scraps of paper with the original handwritten recipe on it.

The Olson family tradition (which my sisters-in-law, Jackie and Beth, still continue to do) is to bake about 12 different kinds of cookies and give them away to friends, relatives, co-workers, etc. For at least 8 hours a day for three days, we would have a production line of dough rolling, slicing, chopping nuts, sprinkling, baking, and finally transferring the cookies to the cooling racks. It was like being in the cookie army! <G>

It was (still is!) a lot of work, but totally worth it! After I came on to the scene my husband "retired" from active cookie duty, but maintained his post as "chief cookie taste tester". Once we moved to Maryland, I continued the tradition, and now our daughter, Stephanie, age 19, helps with the cookie parade. We now have three "professional taste testers": Dad, David, 21 and Sean, 12.

Christmas Cookies
Are for Giving

By Kristin Johnson
& Mimi Cummins
buy now for  $14.41

Robin L Olson
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