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Cookies 101

Content from Bakefest '98 and Bakefest '99 Chat Transcripts

Cookie ideas from Bakefest '98 Chat transcript
Guests: Home Economists Zella Junkin and Lois Levine

Amy: I want to send cookies to a friend. How do you recommend that I pack them for mailing?

Zella Junkin: First choose a cookie that doesn't have sticky icing. Popped popcorn is the best packing material: pack it around the cookies. Use two-day mail.

NoahHitter: How do I get soft and chewy oatmeal or chocolate chip cookies instead of crunchy?

Zella Junkin: Start with a recipe that's meant to be soft and chewy, not crisp. Do not overbake. As soon as the cookie is cool, 15 or 20 minutes, store in an airtight container.

Baca39: Can I use applesauce instead of oil in my cookie recipes?

Zella Junkin: You should always use a recipe, or instructions from an applesauce company. You shouldn't just try on your own to make a substitution.

Lourdes: What is the best recipe to use when doing cookie pops?

Zella Junkin: You can use a refrigerated cookie dough, or use your favorite recipe for sugar, chocolate chip, or oatmeal and follow directions on the cookie pan.

Kellyann: When making cookie bouquets, do you insert the "stick" before the cookies or after the cookies are baked?

Lois Levine: Put the stick in the cookie before it's baked. Put a little bit of dough on the stick to hold it in place.

Sprinkles: How can I stack and store iced cookies?

Zella Junkin: Bake, cool and decorate - lay on cookie sheet. Freeze until icing is firm. Place in airtight container, layer with sheets of wax paper. Freeze up to 3-4 months.

Panabrownies: Is it OK to use margarine instead of butter?

Lois Levine: Yes if the margarine contains no less than 60% vegetable oil. Do not use spreads or diet margarine as they contain more water than fat and will not produce an acceptable cookie.

Cherryontop: How do I tell when cookies are baked?

Zella Junkin: Thick or moist - done when pressed lightly and leave no imprint Thin/crispy - done when firm to touch and golden around edges.

A Little Icing: How do you keep nuts crunchy when using as a topping on cookies?

Zella Junkin: Nuts, when added to a recipe as a topping, are best if they are spread out on a cookie sheet and toasted in a 350 degree oven for about 5-10 minutes.

Cyndrela65: Sometimes I have problems with my buttercream frosting it has a lot of air pockets or something that keeps it from being totally smooth on my cakes How do I prevent that?

Lois Levine: To eliminate air pockets when icing a cake with buttercream, do not over-beat, and use a long metal spatula.

TBM: Where can I find good Holiday cookie recipes for children with egg allergies?

Lois Levine: Call the American Dietetic Association, or go to your local health food store. There are many cookbooks out there for people with allergies.

Panman: Do cookie guns really work? I need to make about 5 dozen cookies for gifts.

Zella Junkin: Wilton Spritz cookie guns work great. Cookie guns are a very easy way to make cookies quickly.

BakeLady: How do I make cookies more uniform in size?

Lois Levine: Use a small ice cream scoop. Lightly spray with vegetable pan spray to prevent dough from sticking to scoop.

Cupcake: Is it really that bad for you to eat the raw cookie dough when baking?

Lois Levine: We never recommend eating raw cookie dough because of the potential for salmonella ingestion.

CarolynO: How do you get the brownies out of the cookie pan easier?

Zella Junkin: Prepare the pan according to recipe directions. Follow cooling directions. Use a spatula to get the entire portion.

KOZ: Is it better to "paint" your cookies before baking or wait until they are baked?

Zella Junkin: Paint before baking your cookies. Your coloring will not be as intense after it is baked, however from a sanitation point of view it is safer. You can ice cookies with beautiful colors after baking.

ShadedRed: What is the difference between light and dark corn syrup?

Lois Levine: Dark corn syrup has molasses in it. It is best not to interchange them if you want consistency in your product. It will work in a pinch.

Raygun: Is all the colored dye really safe for kids to eat?

Zella Junkin: Yes. Wilton only uses FDA approved colors. Check with your physician on the additional ingredients in a color.

Diana: Sometimes when I bake cookies on a stick they spin. How do I keep them from doing this?

Zella Junkin: Make sure you press extra dough on top of the cookie stick before baking. It helps support the baked cookie.

Cherryontop: What's the best way to prevent cookies from spreading?

Lois Levine: Grease pan only when recipe recommends. Cool sheets between baking. On warm or humid days - place cookies on sheet and chill a few minutes before baking.

Pastryman: What are tips on better baking?

Zella Junkin: Cookies will bake better if placed in center of rack in middle of oven. Leave 2 inches of space between cookie sheet and wall. If baking 2 sheets at a time - move racks to evenly space from top and bottom of oven; switch pans half way during baking. Check cookies at minimum time. Cool cookie sheets between baking to prevent spreading.

Louise: What kind of shortening should be used to create a chocolate chip cookie that doesn't flatten out?

Lois Levine: Always use the shortening that is recommended in the recipe. Do not substitute soft margarine for hard margarine.

Cake diane: How do you cut brownies neatly? Mine always seem to tear...

Zella Junkin: Be sure brownies are completely cool. Use a serrated knife.

Panman: Can all cookies be frozen?

Zella Junkin: Most cookies can be frozen. Meringue cookies tend not to freeze as well. Iced cookies do not freeze well.

Chris: Why do my cookies burn when using non-stick cookie sheets?

Zella Junkin: Cookies will not burn on nonstick sheets when baked according to recipe directions. For dark baking sheets, try lowering the temperature 25 degrees.

Cake diane: Can you combine fats (shortening, butter, etc.) in recipes?

Lois Levine: Always follow the recipe directions in baking..

Mikep: What is the easiest way to decorate small cookies with different colored sugars? (without running sugar colors together)

Zella Junkin: Areas of small cookies can be masked with wax paper and then sugared.

Cakeater: What is cream of tartar and why is it used in baking?

Lois Levine: Cream of tartar is leavening agent. It is used as a stabilizer and a leavening agent.

Cat: How does rolled buttercream differ from rolled fondant?

Zella Junkin: These are two different recipes and are used somewhat in the same way. Rolled fondant is a better ready-to-use icing.

Lori: When making gingerbread for decorations such as houses and ornaments for the tree do you have any specific information that differs from making gingerbread to eat?

Zella Junkin: You can use any gingerbread recipe. Wilton also offers gingerbread kits and they are edible.

Cupcake: Do you recommend using egg beaters and will it change the results?

Lois Levine: Check the eggbeater instructions, and call their 800 number.

Cat: How long can rolled fondant items be kept and used on cakes and/or cookies?

Zella Junkin: If rolled fondant pieces are dried, they can be kept indefinitely. When cookies are covered with rolled fondant, they can be stored for 2-3 days.

Lori: When decorating the cookies on a stick do you normally use buttercream or royal icing?

Zella Junkin: This would depend on how they are stored. Buttercream cannot be stacked, and royal icing can.

Lynn: What is the difference between light and dark brown sugar? Does one make chewy cookies?

Zella Junkin: Light brown sugar will make a lighter brown cookie as opposed to a darker color. They will both make chewy cookies.

Trish: If a recipe calls for vegetable oil, can another type of oil (canola, sunflower, etc.) be substituted?

Lois Levine: Most oils can be interchanged in baking except for olive oil and peanut oil.

Amy: Why do my cookies stick?

Zella Junkin: Let cookies stand 1-2 minutes or as directed in recipe. As cookies continue to cool they will become firm enough to remove from pan. Transfer to cooling rack. Dark cookie sheets will bake darker than aluminum; turn oven down 25°.

Mikep: Are air-bake cookie sheets better than basic aluminum or non-stick cookie sheets?

Zella Junkin: Each cookie sheet has advantages. The insulated cookie sheets tend to bake at a slower rate. The Wilton Home and Hearth is an excellent non-stick cookie sheet and available at Wal*Mart.

Lynn: I have trouble using the cookie cutters that press onto the dough, because the dough usually stays in the cutter (in the detailing)...what am I doing wrong?

Zella Junkin: Be sure to dip the cutter each time in flour before use. Use the recipe given with the cookie cutter.

Lynn: Is it better to remove cookies from that pan immediately or should you wait until they are almost cool before taking them off the pan?

Lois Levine: For bar cookies...easy removal, line pan with foil, allow an overhang and when cookies have cooled simply pull up foil or you can allow cookies to cool 15-20 minutes, cut and remove. For cut out cookies, allow to cool on cookie sheet 1-2 minutes and remove to cooling rack.

Lori: Can cookies be baked in the Wilton character pans?

Zella Junkin: Yes. Most character pans take one package of a ready-to-use cookie dough or use a recipe that makes 24 cookies. Spray pan with a pan spray and cool 15 minutes before removing.

KOZ: I just got the new 14" X 20"cookie sheet to bake larger batches. I just read that you should have 2" of space between the walls & put the cookie sheet in center of oven! Does that mean I shouldn't put my cookie dough to the edge of my new cookie sheet?

Lois Levine: For most ovens the 14x20 cookie sheet will fit in the center of the oven with 2 inches of space at the side. This cookie sheet should be used in these ovens only.

Lynn: Can any cookie dough be used with a stick, or do some recipes work better than others?

Zella Junkin: Yes, any cookie dough can be used with a stick. Be sure to add extra dough on top of the stick for support.

Lynn: Is there a freshness time on baking soda and/or powder? How long can they be kept?

Lois Levine: Yes. Both will have expiration dates on the package.

LisaZ: How long can I keep cookie dough in the freezer before rolling them?

Zella Junkin: Cookie dough may be kept up to 2 months in the freezer in a storage container or ziploc bag.

LisaZ: How can I keep my drop cookie dough from spreading out so much on the cookie sheet?

Lois Levine: Be sure your cookie sheet is cool before dropping cookie dough and make sure you follow the cookie recipe.

Cakeboy: What is the difference between baking powder and baking soda?

Lois Levine: Baking powder is a combination that leavens products without acid. Baking soda is a single action leavening agent and requires an acid such as buttermilk, chocolate, or lemon juice to work.

Sherry: Will Color-Flow or thin Royal work to ice cookie before decorating?

Lois Levine: Yes these can be used interchangeably.

Diana: When baking cookies for ornaments, how do you recommend making the hole to insert a ribbon?

Zella Junkin: When cookie is cut and on the baking sheet prior to baking, cut the hole with a drinking straw. As soon as the cookies are out of the oven, re-cut the hole with the straw again.

Gabi: How many rolls of cookie dough should be used in the pumpkin pan?

Lois Levine: One roll of cookie dough should be used in any of our giant cookie pans.

LisaZ: My rolled cookies seem to taste like flour. How can I avoid this without having the cookies stick to my rolling surface?

Zella Junkin: Start with a small amount of flour on your surface. Follow your recipe instructions on chilling the dough.

Shirley: Will I have to bake my cookies longer on air bake cookie sheets?

Lois Levine: Yes you will. It will take 10-15 minutes longer than the allotted time, depending on the time given in the recipe.

AnneH: How do I get frosting to harden up and look glossy for decorating cakes and cookies?

Lois Levine: Use Wilton's meringue powder to make royal icing. For cookies you can thin the icing to make a hard glaze.

Doughboy: What's the best way to make colored dough?

Zella Junkin: Add small amount of color at a time to reach desired shade.

Annie: What is the purpose of baking soda in a recipe? When the amount of soda is reduced my cookies taste and look better.

Zella Junkin: Purpose of baking soda is a leavening agent. For best results, follow the recipe.

Cupcake: Do I need to apply a film of cooking oil to my baking sheet prior to every use or just for the initial use?

Lois Levine: Baking sheets should be prepared according to recipe instructions.

Shirley: Is there any special trick in keeping my chocolate chip cookies soft, mine are always a little more firm than I would like them?

Zella Junkin: Choose recipes that are labeled soft chocolate chip cookies. Cool 1-2 minutes and remove to cooling rack. To keep cookies soft, store in airtight container.

Betty: What are the advantages to Wilton's new giant cookie pans verses just using a performance pan?

Lois Levine: Cookie pans were developed to make it easy to bake, cool and remove cookies, therefore are easier to use than performance pans for cookies.

Cupcake: When I use the Wilton gingerbread cookie pan, the cookie turns out more like a cake than a cookie. Is that correct?

Lois Levine: Your cookie will depend on the recipe and the amount of batter placed in the pan. It will be more cake-like than when baked on a cookie sheet.

Jan: When I make cookies with a cookie cutter, I roll the dough out on my floured counter. Sometimes the cookies get distorted when I transfer them to a cookie sheet. Is there a way to avoid this?

Lois Levine: Try rolling the dough itself out on the cookie sheet, then cutting the cookies and removing the excess dough.

Good Cakes: What is the difference in meringue powder and color flow?

Lois Levine: Both are dried egg white based products. Meringue powder has cornstarch added and is used for royal icing.

Lori: I really like using the new cookie presses, however have noticed that with some recipes the cookies loose their shape. Do you have any suggestions as to the type recipes to use with the presses?

Zella Junkin: Use cookie recipes that have no baking powder or baking soda in them, or eliminate them from your favorite recipe.

Leighdigg: What makes color-flow's glossy appearance?

Zella Junkin: The egg whites give color flow a glossy appearance.

Sbrown: Can I substitute maraschino Cherries for candied cherries in my cookie recipes?

Lois Levine: They are two different products so your results will be quite different.

Joyous: How can I maintain that "fresh" taste when I take my bar cookies or brownies out of the freezer?

Zella Junkin: For fresher taste do not cut bars or brownies before freezing. Layer bars between sheets of waxed paper. Use flat side of pancake turner to pat base in place. Some bars are easier to cut when refrigerated. When spreading bars with preserves spread only to 1/4 inch of the side of the pan. Preserves should not touch the side of the pan.

Bakers Man: Regarding gingerbread: What's the difference between sulphured and unsulphured molasses?

Lois Levine: Sulphured molasses is molasses that has sulphur dioxide in it to lighten and clarify the brown syrup left after sugar crystals are extracted from the cane juice (old fashioned molasses). Molasses is now produced from pure sugar cane juice (not sugar by-product) - so sulphur dioxide process is not necessary. They are interchangeable.

ChefK: What is the recommended way for mailing cookies?

Zella Junkin: Plan to mail firm cookie recipe. Stack on end snugly in box. Use bubble wrap or foam pieces to fill in empty spaces.

MaggieP: What can I do so my spritz cookies don't stick?

Zella Junkin: Chill pans - makes dough stick to sheet when pressing out. Don't chill dough - it will be too firm to pipe. Distribute cookies evenly around cookie sheet. When using a cookie press - if impressions do not come out distinctly - chill dough for a few minutes.

Sbrown: Can I substitute Neufchatel Cheese for Cream Cheese in my recipes?

Zella Junkin: Yes, in most recipes, unless otherwise stated.

Lori: How long can cookies be frozen and still taste good?

Lois Levine: Most cookies if wrapped airtight can be frozen for 3-4 months without a taste change.

Cakeman: What is fondant? Can I use it with my cookies?

Zella Junkin: There are 2 kinds of fondant -- poured fondant, which is used for petit fours and cookie icing; and rolled fondant is a soft marshmallow-like flavored rolllout icing for cakes.

BakeLady: How do I make cookies more uniform in size?

Lois Levine: Use a small ice cream scoop. Lightly spray with vegetable pan spray to prevent dough from sticking to scoop.

Cherryontop: How do I tell when cookies are baked?

Zella Junkin: Thick or moist - done when pressed lightly and leave no imprint Thin/crispy - done when firm to touch and golden around edges.

Blanche: How long do I freeze?

Lois Levine: Freeze baked cookies that have been cooled up to 3 or 4 months -- Cookie dough up to 2 months in freezer in storage container or Ziploc bag.

Dennisdad: How long can I store cookies?

Lois Levine: Store different types of cookies separately to prevent flavors from mixing. Cool cookies completely before putting into containers. Do not store chewy cookies with crisp cookies - store chewy in airtight container or crisp in loose fitted cover. Most cookies can be stored one week at room temperature. If wrapped tightly up to 4 months in freezer.

Tammy: How are baking times determined?

Lois Levine: Baking times vary based on weight and finish of each pan.

Trish: Is there a substitute for baking powder?

Zella Junkin: There is no direct substitute, but the combination of baking soda and an acid such as buttermilk, lemon juice, or chocolate will leaven the product.

Tango: Can you use color flow in place of meringue powder when making royal icing?

Lois Levine: Yes you can. They are interchangeable.

Cakeman: Is there an easy way to slide my cookies off my pan? My cookie pan has ridges all around it, and the cookies don't slide off?

Zella Junkin: Cookie sheets are easier to use because they do not have sides, however you can turn the pan over and use the bottom so your cookies are easy to remove.

Sbrown: Does putting parchment paper on your cookie really stop cookies from burning?

Zella Junkin: Parchment paper on cookie sheets is usually used to make easier to remove, not to prevent burning.

Leighdigg: If egg-whites give color flow glossy appearance, why isn't royal glossy?

Lois Levine: Meringue powder has cornstarch and that's what makes it not as glossy.

Leighdigg: Is shortbread considered cookie or cake?

Zella Junkin: Shortbread is a traditional Scottish cookie.

Sbrown: My cookies start tasting stale after a few days in the cookies jar. Any way to avoid this?

Lois Levine: Put a piece of bread or apple in the cookie jar, or keep cookies in an airtight container.

Sbrown: My cookie cutters seem dull and don't cut through the dough well. Is there any way to make them cut through the dough easier?

Lois Levine: There is no known method of sharpening cookie cutters. It might be best to replace them.

Jan: Does re-rolling cookie dough scraps make cookies less tender?

Lois Levine: Don't re-roll more than once for the most tender cookies.


 

Cookie ideas from Bakefest '99 Chat transcript
Guests: Nancy Siler, Lois Levine and Kayla Clark

Crazy Baker: Can you refrigerate cake batter to use within the next few days?

Nancy: It's best not to because it'll loose some of your leavening power and the cake may not rise as much. To save time, mix dry ingredients and wet ingredients separately. Combine just before baking.

Crazy Baker: Can all types of cookie dough be frozen?

Lois: Yes they can be frozen, they should be wrapped in plastic and placed in a ziplock bag, can be kept for about 2 months

Lynn:
How do I get soft and chewy oatmeal or chocolate chip cookies instead of crunchy?

Lois:
Start with a recipe that's meant to be soft and chewy, not crisp. Do not overbake. As soon as the cookie is cool, 15 or 20 minutes, store in an airtight container.

Stacyb: When making cookie bouquets, do you insert the "stick" before the cookies or after the cookies are baked?

Lois: Put the stick in the cookie before it's baked. Put a little bit of dough over the stick to hold it in place.

Crazy Baker: Is there a difference between regular vanilla extract and clear vanilla extract?

Nancy: Regular vanilla extract has a brown tint and will affect the color of some product, especially those that are white or cream colored while clear does not. Flavor should be about the same, since most alcohol evaporates during baking.

Denised: Is it better to remove cookies from the pan immediately or should you wait until they are almost cool before taking them off the pan?

Nancy: For bar cookies...easy removal, line pan with foil, allow an overhang and when cookies have cooled simply pull up foil or you can allow cookies to cool 15-20 minutes, cut and remove. For cut out cookies, allow to cool on cookie sheet 1-2 minutes and remove to cooling rack.

Denised: How do you cut brownies neatly? Mine always seem to tear...

Nancy: Be sure brownies are completely cool. Use a serrated knife.

Crazy Baker: Why do dark pans make cookies bake darker? Is there a way to combat this without buying new pans?

Nancy:
It's in the heat transfer. Try lowering your baking temperature by 25 degrees and putting your cookie sheet on a higher oven rack - not on the bottom rack.

Stacyb: Can cookies be baked in the Wilton character pans?

Lois: Yes. Most character pans take one package of a Ready-to-use cookie dough or use a recipe that makes 24 cookies. Spray pan with a pan spray and cool 15 minutes before removing.

Lynn: My cookies start tasting stale after a few days in the cookie jar. Any way to avoid this?

Lois: Put a piece of bread or apple in the cookie jar, or keep cookies in an airtight container.

Crazy Baker: What's a good way to package gingerbread men without the royal frosting decorations breaking off?

Nancy: Putting wax paper between layers of cookies and carefully packing with bubble wrap or popcorn. Make sure there is no extra space in the box or tin for cookies to shift.

Crazy Baker: Does cookie dough in a Wilton character pan come out very easy after baking?

Nancy:
Yes, be sure to follow recipe directions and lightly spray pan with vegetable pan spray.

Azbaker:
If you want to make stained glass ornaments with hard candy inside a cookie cutter for hanging, when do you make the hole and with what?

Lois:
Most recipes suggest putting the candy in "window area" before baking and leaving an opening for the ribbon. You could also tie the ribbon through the cookie cutter before adding the sugar mixture.

Fletch: Will the Cookie Pans work with the Cookie Dough bought from grocery stores?

Nancy: Of course. It only takes one package of refrigerated dough.

Denised: What is the easiest way to decorate small cookies with different colored sugars? (with out running sugar colors together)

Lois: Areas of small cookies can be masked with wax paper and then sugared.

Sandy: O.K., I must really be in the dark ages. Why would you bake cookie dough in a character pan?

Nancy: So that you can have that character. What could be cuter than cookies baked as a giant teddy bear in the Wilton giant teddy bear cookie pan or Mickey giant cookie pan?

Sandy:
So there are pans available specifically for baking large cookies?

Lois: Yes, Wilton carries a variety of seasonal and everyday giant cookie pans.

Crazy Baker: Wouldn't the cookie in a character pan get too done around the edges and not done in the middle?

Nancy: No. It works great.

Lynn: What can I do so my spritz cookies don't stick?

Lois: Chill pans – this makes the dough stick to the sheet when pressing out. Don't chill dough - it will be too firm to eject. Distribute cookies evenly around cookie sheet. When using a cookie press - if impressions do not come out distinctly - chill dough for a few minutes.

Stacyb: When baking cookies for ornaments, how do you recommend making the hole to insert a ribbon?

Lois: When cookie is cut and on the baking sheet prior to baking, cut the hole with a drinking straw or decorating tip. As soon as the cookies are out of the oven, re-cut the hole with the straw again.

Crazy Baker: Do the Wilton cake character pans work for baking cookies?

Lois:
Yes they do a great job making giant cookies.

Lynn: Are air-bake cookie sheets better than basic aluminum or non-stick cookie sheets?

Nancy: Each cookie sheet has advantages. The insulated cookie sheets tend to bake at a slower rate. The Wilton Home and Hearth is an excellent non-stick cookie sheet and available at Wal*Mart.

Azbaker: I have a few cookie cutters that are not your typical simple design, (lizard, cactus), how can I get dough out after cutter is pressed into it without breaking the design?

Lois: Flour your cookie cutters before pressing them into your dough. This will prevent the dough from sticking.

Crazy Baker: Do extracts work just as well as pure flavorings?

Nancy: Both extracts and oils will flavor your product. Pure oil flavorings will have a slightly stronger intensity so you may require less if your recipe calls for extract and you use oil.

Sandy: Can you bake cookie dough in a regular character pan used for cakes, or are the cookie pans different?

Nancy: Yes, you can use the character cake pans for cookies.

Crazy Baker: How come different margarines soften, look and make cookie dough act so differently. What should the vegetable content be for the best result?

Lois: Avoid diet margarines, because they contain a lot of water. The fat content of the margarine should be no less than 70% - 80% .

Mark The Baker: How do you use a character baking pan to make cookies?

Nancy: Take your favorite cookie recipe that makes 2 dozen cookies or one package of refrigerator dough, lightly spray pan and then press dough into pan. Bake according to package directions. Eat and enjoy!

Lois: What can I do so my spritz cookies don't stick?

Lois: Chill pans – this makes the dough stick to the sheet when pressing out. Don't chill dough - it will be too firm to eject. Distribute cookies evenly around cookie sheet. When using a cookie press - if impressions do not come out distinctly - chill dough for a few minutes.

Stacyb: When I make cookies with a cookie cutter, I roll the dough out on my floured counter. Sometimes the cookies get distorted when I transfer them to a cookie sheet. Is there a way to avoid this?

Lois: Try rolling the dough itself out on the cookie sheet, then cutting the cookies and removing the excess dough.

Nan: When baking the sugar cookies , is it better to do one sheet at a time or can you put in two sheets and switch them half way through baking ?

Nancy:
What a great baker you are! You can do either.

Chocolate Chips 'n Nuts: What kind of supplies can be used to decorate cookies for details like flowers and shells?

Nancy: Colored sugars, sprinkles, and sparkles are quick and easy plus come in a variety of colors. You could paint the cookies using colored royal icing, thinned.

Sandy: When you make a cookie in a pan, do you grease & flour the pan, spray with non-stick spray, or leave it alone?

Lois:
It is not necessary to grease and flour, non-stick sprays are adequate.

Lynn:
What's the best way to make colored dough?

Lois: Add small amount of color at a time to reach desired shade using a mixer.

Denised: Is it better to "paint" your cookies before baking or wait until they are baked?

Nancy: Paint before or after baking your cookies. Your coloring will not be as intense after it is baked. You can ice cookies with beautiful colored icing after baking.

Bjfrd: How do you prevent cookie sheets from buckling in the oven?

Nancy: Make sure your oven is at the correct temperature. Consider using an oven thermometer for accuracy. Also, make sure your cookie sheet is not real cold.

Cakeboy: I want to make a gingerbread house this year at Christmas, any suggestions?

Lois:
Wilton has several varieties of gingerbread houses, villages and tree ornaments.

Cakeboy: Can I use cookies as ornaments for Christmas decorations?

Nancy: Of course. What a clever way of making your tree look different and provide a great family activity of making the cookies together. Select a firm cookie recipe, such as sugar or gingerbread. After cutting out the cookie dough with Wilton cookie cutters, use a decorating tip or straw to make a hole at the top of the cookie. After baking, re-cut the hole where you will insert the ribbon to tie the cookie on the tree.

Lynn: Why do my cookies burn when using non-stick cookie sheets?

Nancy: Cookies will not burn on nonstick sheets when baked according to recipe directions. For dark baking sheets, try lowering the temperature 25 degrees.

Cyndra: What is the difference between painting and icing cookies?

Nancy: Painting cookies can be done by using a small amount of Wilton icing colors diluted with vanilla extract and a food-safe brush. Icing can be tinted and then painted on the cookie for full surface coverage. More details can be added using a decorator tip.

Sandy: If you use cookies for tree decorations, what would you use to decorate them with to not promote bugs?

Lois:
Use thinned royal icing. This icing will harden and deter little critters.

Lynn: How do I make cookies more uniform in size?

Nancy: Use a small ice cream scoop. Lightly spray with vegetable pan spray to prevent dough from sticking to scoop.

Stacyb: What's the best way to prevent cookies from spreading?

Lois: Grease pan only when recipe recommends. Cool sheets between baking. On warm or humid days - place cookies on sheet and chill a few minutes before baking.

Stacyb: What is the difference between light and dark brown sugar? Does one make chewy cookies?

Lois: Light brown sugar will make a lighter brown cookie as opposed to a darker color. They will both make chewy cookies.

Cookie Goddess: Can you explain the differences between plastic, metal & copper cutters and what makes one type better than another? I have a hard time choosing.

Lois: Metal and Copper are a sturdier cutter and can be used to cut through a variety of treats. Copper is also very popular for home decor. Plastic cutters are fine, they will not always cut through deep or harder treats.

Stacyb: Can I use applesauce instead of oil in my cookie recipes?

Kayla: You should always use a recipe or instructions that call for applesauce. You may not be as successful making the modification on your own, but you can try it. Prune puree works too.

Nan: When I use the brown pans for baking breads or cookies I have trouble with the breads being overcooked. This doesn't happen with the Wilton pans. How do I rectify this problem short of buying all new baking pans?

Nancy: Lower your baking temperature and extend your time. Also, make sure you put your product on a higher oven rack, not on the bottom rack.

Azbaker: Can you use fondant on cookies as well?

Lois: Yes, but try our poured wafer and fondant mix. We also have a recipe for poured fondant in the Wilton yearbook.

Cookie Goddess:
I like really pretty cookies, but they always take so much time. What's the best way to decorated cookies that looks nice, but doesn't take a lot of time to do?

Nancy:
Start with frozen dough and paint or ice on colors. You can also use sparkles, sprinkles, colored sugars, jimmies, and non-pareils.

Cupcake5:
What is a Comfort Grip Cookie Cutter?

Lois: A Comfort Grip Cutter is a shaped metal cutter with a soft cushion grip on the top. This helps when pushing down to cut harder treats as well as for making cookies.

Lynn: What kind of shortening should be used to create a chocolate chip cookie that doesn't flatten out?

Lois: Always use the shortening that is recommended in the recipe. Do not substitute soft margarine for hard margarine.

Cookie Goddess: I enjoy doing Gingerbread at Christmas. Can my family eat Wilton pre-baked Gingerbread houses, or are they just for decoration?

Nancy:
They are edible so enjoy!

BakerK: Are the Wilton pans Anodized Aluminum?

Lois: Yes, most of the Wilton pans are anodized aluminum.

Delia: What is an anodized aluminum pan? And where would I get it?

Lois: Anodization is a process to insure even baking. Our yearbook carries many different anodized aluminum pans.