Cookies bake quickly — usually within 8 to 10 minutes — but sometimes it's hard to tell when they're baked through. Better to be on the safe side and remove them when they're slightly underdone than burn them. You can always return cookies to the oven if they need a few more minutes. You can even rebake cookies long after they're cool to restore crispness or freshness. Here's our best tips.
Soft and Mushy
Turns out the cookies weren't quite done when you took them from the oven and they're soft and mushy. Pop them back in the oven for an extra minute or two until they're golden brown. Keep in mind, though, that many cookies don't set completely until they're cooled, and it's best to slightly undercook cookies if you prefer them soft and chewy, rather than crisp. Allow them to cool completely before you decide they need additional baking. Otherwise, you may overbake them. For better results the first time, preheat the oven and space the cookies at least 2 inches apart. Avoid insulated pans, which don't brown cookies well.
Nice and Fresh
Another reason to rebake cookies is to give them that warm, fresh, right-out-of-the oven taste. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit and bake the cookies for 4 to 6 minutes, or just until warm. This also works to crisp soggy cookies. Don't over bake them, which will toughen them. Serve and eat these cookies quickly because they'll lose their freshness once they cool.
To reheat cookies, rather than bake them, toss them in the microwave for a few seconds. Spread the cookies on a microwave-safe plate so they cook evenly and heat them on high for 10 to 20 seconds. Watch them closely, though, or you may find burnt or unevenly heated spots in the cookies. You can thaw frozen, baked cookies or refresh stale cookies using this method.
Into the Freezer
If you crave fresh-from-the-oven cookies, try this trick: make your favorite cookie dough and place the dough in 1- to- 2-inch balls on a cookie sheet. Put the cookie sheet in the freezer for 1 hour to firm up the dough. When the balls are completely firm, transfer them to plastic freezer bags, placing only a dozen or so balls in each bag. When you want cookies, simply preheat the oven to 350 F and bake the cookies. With this method, you can bake just what you need for cookies that are always warm and fresh.
- The Art & Soul of Baking; Cindy Mushet
- What's Cooking America: Cookie Tips
Julie Christensen is a food writer, caterer, and mom-chef. She's the creator of MarmaladeMom.org, dedicated to family fun and delicious food, and released a book titled "More Than Pot Roast: Fast, Fresh Slow Cooker Recipes."