1. Always start with cold butter and preheat your oven to 350 degrees. This prevents over mixing and proper incorporation of the sugar and fat. 350 degrees works well for all cookie sizes.
2. When creaming the butter and sugar, constantly scrape down the sides to ensure that all of the butter is mixed in. The creaming process forms tiny air bubbles in the fat and dissolves the sugar. When this step is finished you should barely be able to feel granules of sugar in the butter. You want to achieve the color of a latte, a very light brown. This is the step where many bakers over mix, incorporating too much air and ending up with a flat cookie. If the mixture is under mixed and the sugar is still in its original form, you will end up with a dense/ heavy cookie.
3. After your butter and sugar resemble fluffy clouds, it is time to add the eggs. Add all the eggs and vanilla or other flavoring, and begin on speed one. Scrape down the sides and set on speed 2. This step usually takes about a third of the time that your first step takes. The butter mixture will break down into tiny beads, then become one with egg mixture, again forming a latte like color. If you are making an oatmeal cookie, now is the time to add your rolled oats. Oatmeal cookies work best when the oats have time to soak. A good amount of time to soak is 10-15 minutes. If you are using quick oats, just add them in the next step.
4. Now it is time to add your dry ingredients. It is important to have all dry ingredients combined before you place them in the mixing bowl. Unless you would like to adorn your kitchen and yourself with flour, start this process on speed one. Stay on speed one for about 15 seconds, then move up to speed two for 5-10 seconds and scrape down. If more time is necessary then go for it, but be careful not to develop too much gluten by over mixing. Gluten development makes for a displeasing chewy texture. Add your chips, nuts or dried fruit and give it a quick mix.
5. The mixing process is over, and you are one step closer to oven fresh cookies. Your oven should be hot and ready for your cookies. When portioning your cookies, it is smart to make them all the same size for even baking. Lightly smash down the cookies and pop them in the oven. Appropriate baking time for a tablespoon cookie in a 350 degree oven is about 8 minutes, give or take, depending on the power of your oven. When checking cookies for doneness, look at the edges and try not to look in the middle. Cookies finish their bake on the pan after you take them out of the oven. Contrary to popular belief placing cookies on a cooking rack isn’t really necessary, unless you need the pan again.
I hope that these tips and instructions help you improve your cookie making skills. After many years of baking I can say these have definitely helped me, so give ‘em a try. Thank you for reading, and happy baking!