Get the Scoop on Chilling Your Dough

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The weeks leading up to Christmas are cookie-baking time around our house. We give cookies for presents, take them as our contribution to potluck holiday parties and package them up for hostess gifts. We have done this since the first year we were married, and I don’t see us ending the tradition any time soon.

We make about twelve different kinds of cookies every year. Most of them are drop cookies, or the kind you roll into balls before baking. Some of them require a little more effort, but none of them are complicated or time consuming. As I write this, I realize many of our favorites are the roll-into-balls recipes – gingersnaps, Russian teacakes, chocolate chip doodles and snickerdoodles. The recipes instruct, “chill the dough before forming into balls for baking.” This often ends up with me using my forearm muscles of steel to scoop rock hard, chilled cookie dough.

The other day, when I was fiddling around, fixing my Russian teacake mistake, I had a revelation. If I scooped the dough balls first and then chilled the dough I would be getting the best of the process. I could scoop soft, creamy dough with ease and then chill the balls. Then, when I was ready to bake, the heavy lifting (so to speak) would be done and I could just place the balls on the pans and bake.

It works beautifully. Mistakes lead to innovation. And no, I’m not comparing myself to an inventor of say, rubber or the Slinky. It did kind of rock my cookie-baking world, though.

Try the method with any dough that calls for an hour or two of chilling. Portion out the dough right after you mix it and then chill the balls in an airtight container for up to a week. You can freeze them if you want to make them further ahead.

Oh, and in the free time that you will have if you use my revelatory method, you can kill some time on the internet. Try typing, “mistakes that led to inventions,” into any search engine and you will get some interesting reading.

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2 thoughts on “Get the Scoop on Chilling Your Dough

  1. i do that! and you’re right: way better, so long as the dough isn’t too soft so hold in the ball shapes (which i suppose if it was, you’d have bigger problems than when to scoop). 🙂 i think the only ones i “chill until firm” are the ones which i a) cut with cookie cutters after rolling out or b) slice and bake.

    • I don’t know why I never thought to do it before! Sometimes inspiration takes a long time to come.

      I very seldom do roll out/cut out cookies. And when I do I make a few shapes and then I get tired of rolling and cutting. The rest I roll out and cut into squares with a knife. I have very little patience sometimes – can you tell? 🙂 I turn most of those recipes into slice and bake. Every few years I’ll get into the decorated cookies, but mostly I am in it for efficiency so I can eat them sooner!

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