It’s the first week of November, and I’m already writhing to my holiday jazz playlist. Why? Because I’m a sick little freak, and I’m ready to celebrate the holidays with extreme gusto this year. That means getting a jump on my holiday cookie distribution strategy, which I’m approaching with FEMA-level precision. But before I can greet friends and loved ones with overstuffed cookie tins, I need a way to take my cookie game from “perfectly acceptable” to “oh my God these cookies are so delicious it’s as if the infant Christ breathed on them.”
To do that, I asked a few cookie experts: What’s your number one cookie tip? From inventive sugar flavoring to strategic under-baking, my cookie correspondents didn’t disappoint.
“My top cookie tip is to use flavored sugar in the cookie dough! For example, if someone was making a sugar cookie, they could doctor their granulated sugar by grating orange zest and blitzing it with the sugar in a food processor to combine. This will release some of the citrus oils into the sugar itself, which will then infuse the cookie dough with even more flavor. The flavor in the sugar does become a bit subtle after baking; however, it will add a delicious background note that really makes any cookie stand apart from others, which is great if you want to really be extra with your holiday cookies.”—Teresa Finney, baker and recipe developer, Teresa Made This
“My one aesthetic tip is that whatever the cookie calls for as a mix-in (chocolate chips, nuts, etc.), apply a little on the top after you’ve rolled your dough ball and placed it on the baking sheet. The difference between a bunch of chopped-up M&Ms swirling chaotically in a cookie versus five delicately positioned M&Ms as the cookie’s face is astounding.”—Kevin T. Porter, baker, Kevin Bakin’
“We ALWAYS bake our drop cookies from frozen (best if frozen overnight) because it helps the center of the cookie stay warm and gooey while the outside browns, leaving you with the perfect texture!”—Miranda Bucciero and Lauren Gibaldi, owners, Flour Power
“I’ve also found that the consistency of the dough and finished cookie is much improved by a quick chill, whether it’s 30 minutes in the fridge or even 10 in the freezer. The cooling time will get those delicious ingredients to hold together to premium baked results.”—Kevin T. Porter, baker, Kevin Bakin’
“Finely grind some freeze-dried fruit, like strawberry, then combine that with granulated sugar to make what I like to call ‘cookie jewelry’ by sprinkling the freeze-dried fruit sugar on cookies once they come out of the oven. You could also do this with basically any spice by combining it with the sugar to roll cookie dough around in before baking, and then sprinkling more spiced sugar on top once out of the oven (the same way you would with sugar and cinnamon in a snickerdoodle cookie).”—Teresa Finney, baker and recipe developer, Teresa Made This
“I like a nice chewy cookie, so I try to under-bake around 30 to 60 seconds whenever possible.”—Kevin T. Porter, baker, Kevin Bakin’