During the holidays, I’ve been accused of getting carried away with cookies, but who’s to say that baking five batches in one night is too much? If you’re planning to bake up a storm this year, I have some advice for you: Before you get started, before you even start fantasizing about which recipes to make, take inventory of your cookie baking equipment. You don’t need a lot for cookies, but having the right type of pans and gadgets can really make a difference in efficiency and in the quality of your final cookies.
“My new best friends are mini ice-cream scoops for scooping uniform-size cookies. They make it easy for kids to have success in the kitchen, too.” — Gale Gand, executive pastry chef and partner of Tru in Chicago, cookbook author, and host of the Food Network’s “Sweet Dreams”
“I rely on my angled offset spatula for holiday cookie baking. I use it to make sure that my dough doesn’t stick to the counter when I’m rolling it out, and then to transfer cut cookies to baking sheets.” — Lauren Chattman, author of Mom’s Big Book of Baking and Icebox Pies
“Oven thermometers ensure accurate baking temperatures, critical with most cookies. You can’t rely on the oven’s temperature gauge.” — Marcel Desaulniers, author of Death by Chocolate
“There’s nothing like a good-quality, professional bench scraper for cutting, cleaning, and even shaping doughs. Go down to a restaurant-supply store and get one with a nice thin blade. You’ll save money and get a good quality tool, too.” — Wayne Harley Brachman, author of Retro Desserts and host of the Food Network’s “Melting Pot”
Speaking of measuring, I thought measuring spoons were measuring spoons until I saw these from Cuisipro, which are cleverly designed to sit on the countertop without tipping over. That means you can set a tablespoon down on any flat surface, add vanilla extract, and let it just sit there until you’re ready to add it to the batter. If you’re using a hand mixer or mixing by hand, having your ingredients measured and ready is essential. Also handy are irregular-size measuring cups and spoons from Amco. These 18/8 stainless-steel cups are sold in a set of 2/3-, 3/4-, and 1-1/2-cup measures. I find that I use my odd-size cups even more than my standard ones.
“I would find it hard to live without my KitchenAid 5-quart mixer. It’s more than 22 years old and has never skipped a beat. I can mix anything quickly and easily in it. I can’t imagine making cookies without it.” — Carole Bloom, author of Cookies for Dummies and Chocolate Lover’s Cookbook for Dummies
“Sturdy baking sheets are always important, but never more so than during holiday baking time, when my oven cranks out tons of cookies. I love Doughmakers baking sheets. They have that wonderful pebbled surface for even browning, and the coined edge makes them super-sturdy — there’s no warping.” — Abigail Johnson Dodge, Fine Cooking contributing editor and author of Williams-Sonoma Desserts
“Cookie cutters are a holiday essential. I have more than a hundred of them, because there’s nothing more fun than biting off the head of a gingerbread camel or the points off a shortbread star. And whimsical shapes are, of course, an excuse to use brightly colored sugars and sprinkles.” — Carolyn Beth Weil, baker, instructor, and co-author of The Baker’s Dozen Cookbook
Look up The Baker’s Catalogue (www.kingarthurflour.com) for sheets of pre-cut parchment. The sheets perfectly fit a half sheet pan; 41 square feet of paper costs $14.95. The Baker’s Catalogue also carries Zeroll teaspoon and tablespoon cookie scoops for $19.95 each, as well as sprinkles and sugar crystals. Cooking.com sells a range of offset Ateco spatulas starting at $1.95, as well as cookie cutters and Cuisipro measuring spoons ($9.95). Try Williams-Sonoma (www.williams-sonoma.com) for stainless-steel bench scrapers, which start at $8, as well as Silpat nonstick baking liners, ranging from $23 to $46. Chef’s Catalog (www.chefscatalog.com) carries Doughmakers baking sheets starting at $17.99. Kitchen Emporium (www.kitchenemporium.com) sells Chicago Metallic cookie sheets starting at $12.95. Contact KitchenAid (www.kitchenaid.com) for more information about its stand mixers.