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Tips for baking better cookies

This holiday season take your cookie baking to the next level! Tips from the Taste of Home experts will ensure fluffier, more delicious cookies.
RULE NO. 1 — Don’t overmix. For soft cooking, avoid overmixing the cookie dough. The cookies will be tough if the dough is handled too much.
RULE NO. 2 — Preheat the oven. It can be too easy to skip this step, but leavening agents (like yeast and baking powder) rise when exposed suddenly to high temperatures. This can’t happen in an oven that starts cold leading to flat cookies.
RULE NO. 3 — Room temperature is best. Room temperature ingredients, like eggs and butter, are best for creaming as it helps incorporate more air into the dough, and that will help your cookies rise.
Some cookie recipes you may want to try;
10-CUP COOKIE
INGREDIENTS
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1 cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1 cup quick-cooking oats
1 cup sweetened shredded coconut
1 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
1 cup raisins
DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 350°. In a large bowl, cream butter, peanut butter and sugars until blended. Beat in eggs. In another bowl, whisk flour, baking soda and baking powder; gradually beat into creamed mixture. Stir in chocolate chips, oats, coconut, pecans and raisins. Drop dough by tablespoonfuls 3 in. apart onto greased baking sheets. Bake until golden brown, 12-15 minutes. Cool on pans 5 minutes. Remove to wire racks to cool completely.
BIG AND BUTTERY CHOCOLATE CHIP COOKIES
INGREDIENTS
1 cup butter, softened
1 cup packed brown sugar
3/4 cup sugar
2 large eggs, room temperature
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2-2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 package (12 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips
2 cups coarsely chopped walnuts, toasted
DIRECTIONS
In a large bowl, beat butter and sugars until blended. Beat in eggs and vanilla. In a small bowl, whisk flour, baking soda and salt; gradually beat into butter mixture. Stir in chocolate chips and walnuts.
Shape 1/4 cupfuls of dough into balls. Flatten each to 3/4-in. thickness (2-1/2-in. diameter), smoothing edges as necessary. Place in an airtight container, separating layers with waxed paper or parchment; refrigerate, covered, overnight. To bake, place dough portions 2 in. apart on parchment-lined baking sheets; let stand at room temperature 30 minutes before baking. Preheat oven to 400°.
Bake until edges are golden brown (centers will be light), 10-12 minutes. Cool on pans 2 minutes. Remove to wire racks to cool.
Test Kitchen variations
— Almond Chocolate Chip Cookies: Reduce vanilla to 1 teaspoon and add 1/4 teaspoon almond extract. Substitute toasted almonds for the walnuts.
— Big & Buttery White Chip Cookies: Substitute white baking chips for the chocolate chips and toasted hazelnuts for the walnuts.
— Big & Buttery Cranberry Nut Cookies: Substitute dried cranberries for the chocolate chips.
— Big & Buttery Cherry Chocolate Chip Cookies: Substitute 1 cup chopped dried cherries for 1 cup of the walnuts.
OLD-FASHIONED PEANUT BUTTER COOKIES
INGREDIENTS
1 cup shortening
1 cup peanut butter
1 cup sugar
1 cup packed brown sugar
3 large eggs, room temperature
3 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
DIRECTIONS
Preheat oven to 375°. In a large bowl, cream shortening, peanut butter and sugars until light and fluffy, 5-7 minutes. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating well after each addition. Combine flour, baking soda and salt; add to creamed mixture and mix well.
Roll into 1-1/2-in. balls. Place 3 in. apart on ungreased baking sheets. Flatten with a fork or meat mallet if desired. Bake 10-15 minutes. Remove to wire racks to cool.
CHERRY CHOCOLATE NUT COOKIES
INGREDIENTS
1/2 cup butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 large egg
1/4 cup 2% milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
3/4 cup chopped maraschino cherries
3/4 cup chopped pecans
DIRECTIONS
In a large bowl, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy. Beat in the egg, milk and vanilla. Combine the flour, baking powder, salt and baking soda; gradually add to creamed mixture and mix well. Stir in the remaining ingredients. Drop by tablespoonfuls 2 in. apart onto greased baking sheets. Bake at 375° for 10-12 minutes or until golden brown. Remove to wire racks to cool.

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