Every week, baking expert Alice Medrich will be going rogue on Food52 -- with shortcuts, hacks, and game-changing recipes.
Today: The best way to make a lot of cookies, really fast -- without ever having to wait for baking sheets to cool.
You volunteered to make hundreds of cookies although you have a small kitchen and minimal equipment?
Parchment paper and several begged or borrowed cooling racks are the key to mass-producing cookies with a single oven and only two baking sheets. But to keep things moving, you should also know exactly how to break the most common rule of cookie making: the one that says "Always cool cookie sheets before putting a new batch of raw cookies on them."
It is true that a hot pan will start melting (and ruining) the first scoops of dough before you fill the rest of the sheet. However, if you can put all of the shaped cookies on the pan at one time and put the pan into the oven immediately, there’s no harm, no foul. Of course, baking times may be shorter by a minute or so.
Here’s the strategy:
Mix all of the dough ahead, whenever you have time, and accumulate it in the fridge for 3 to 4 days, or in the freezer for longer. I like to shape butter cookie dough into logs to slice and bake or make batches of chocolate chip cookie dough to be shaped with a spoon or scoop.
On baking day, position a rack in the upper and lower thirds of the oven (assuming a regular, non-convection oven) and preheat the oven as directed in your recipe.
Shape cookies and arrange them on the two parchment-lined pans. Bake as directed, remembering to rotate the pans from top to bottom and front to back about halfway (or a little more than halfway) through the baking time.
More: Where to Put the Oven Racks (Alice's Rules)
While the cookies are baking, continue to form and arrange raw cookies on more parchment sheets set on the counter. As soon as the first cookies are done, slide the liners with hot cookies attached onto the cooling racks (the parchment will not be too hot -- but don’t touch the pan). Slide new cookie laden parchment sheets onto the hot pans and put them into the oven immediately. Continue the performance until you drop, or all of the cookies are baked -- whichever comes first!
As cookies cool, remove them from the racks to make room for new hot sheets. Cookies should be thoroughly cool before storing them in airtight containers. Otherwise they will become soggy (even moldy!) or misshapen from trapped steam.
For recipes and more about cookie baking, see Chewy Gooey Crispy Crunchy Melt-in-Your-Mouth Cookies (Artisan, 2010).
Alice's new book Seriously Bitter Sweet is a complete revision of her IACP award-winning Bittersweet, updated for the 54%, 61%, and 72% (and beyond) bars available today. It's packed with tricks, techniques, and answers to every chocolate question, plus 150 seriously delicious recipes -- both savory and sweet.
Photos by James Ransom