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Problem solving pointers for baking cookies and bars

The following are some pointers and ideas for solving the most common problems when baking cookies and bars. These pointers are mostly for the novice baker but serve as good reminders for all of us.

Cookies spread too much:

1 Always place cookies on a cool baking sheet

2 Replace part of the butter in the recipe with shortening

3 If using margarine, check label and make sure it contains 80% vegetable oil

Cookies don’t spread enough

1 Use all butter instead of shortening or margarine

2 Add 1 to 2 tbl of liquid such as milk or water

3 Let dough stand at room temperature before baking

Cookies are tough

1 The dough was overhandled or overmixed, use a light touch when mixing

2 Too much flour was worked into the dough

3 Add 1 or 2 tbl more of shortening or butter or sugar

Cookies are too brown

1 Check the oven temperature with an oven thermometer

2 Use heavy gauged, dull aluminum baking sheets. Dark baking sheets will cause the cookies to become overly brown

Cookies are too pale

1 Check the oven temperature with an oven thermometer

2 Use heavy gauged, dull aluminum baking sheets. Insulated baking sheets cause cookies to be pale in color

3 Use butter, not shortening or margarine

4 Substitute 1 to 2 tbl corn syrup for the sugar

Bars bake unevenly

1 Spread batter evenly in pan

2 Check to make sure oven rack is level

Bars are over baked

1 Use pan size called for in recipe, too large a pan will cause batter to be thin and dry

2 Check the oven temperature with an oven thermometer

3 Check for doneness 5 minutes sooner than the recommended baking time

Bars are gummy

1 Use pan size called for in recipe, too small a pan will cause batter to be thick and may be gummy or cake like