Everybody loves cookies, right? Shop-bought cookies are decent, but you can’t get much better than warm, freshly baked cookies. The smell alone is enough to make your mouth water like mad. The problem is that you probably don’t have fresh cookies available at home 24/7, so your only option other than buying them is to take the time to make them yourself.
Since you’re reading this, I’m going to assume that you haven’t got significant experience when it comes to baking cookies, so you’ve run into a problem or two. You can run into a lot of different problems when making cookies, but the worst problem by far is when they adhere to the baking tray.
It’s a huge disappointment when you go to lift one of the cookies and you can’t budge it. It’s completely stuck to the tray, so you’re annoyed at yourself and now you’re in a bad mood because you can’t eat them without picking or scraping them off the tray.
There’s not much you can do at the stage, so you should learn from your mistake and fix whatever went wrong next time so you don’t have to deal with stuck cookies again.
Using parchment paper or a silicone baking mat is the best way to completely stop cookies from sticking to the baking tray. With these, the cookies will lift off the tray with ease. If you don’t have these, you can grease your baking tray with a thin layer of fat, such as spray oil or shortening.
The aim is to create a barrier between the hot metal and the cookies. Without a barrier, sticking is virtually inevitable. You see, cooking on bare metal will lead to sticking when there isn’t something to separate it from the food. Protein-rich foods are especially likely to stick to bare metal, so be very careful if your cookies contain a lot of egg.
Food sticks to metal due to there being tiny peaks and valleys in the metal’s surface that expand and contract at different temperatures. When food sticks, it’s because it adheres to these tiny imperfections on the metal’s surface. Adding some form of fat will fill in most of these peaks and valleys, creating a smoother and more non-stick surface. Even better is to use parchment paper or a silicone mat. These completely separate the metal from the cookies, which means that you won’t have to worry about sticking at all.
Ways To Stop Cookies From Sticking
Grease The Pan
If you didn’t grease your pan with anything before you baked your cookies, there’s no doubt that you’re inexperienced when it comes to baking and you’ll never make that mistake again.
By putting the cookie dough on bare metal, you’ve already ruined your chances of being able to get them off once they’re baked. They’ll be completely stuck.
You need to add something to the pan, whether it’s spray oil, shortening, or butter (this isn’t ideal due to it containing protein solids, which can aid the sticking). Simply spray or rub the oil around the baking tray until you’re sure that you’ve completely covered it, then put your cookies on and bake as normal.
Although it can’t guarantee that your cookies won’t stick, it’s certainly going to reduce sticking significantly, so you could at least pry them off if they do stick slightly.
Use Parchment Paper
The most effective and easiest thing you can do is to simply use parchment paper. It’s foolproof and made even easier if you can get the precut stuff that’s used in professional kitchens/bakeries. You won’t have to awkwardly try to flatten out precut parchment paper as you do with the rolled stuff.
Using parchment paper is as simple as putting it onto the baking tray and putting the cookie dough on top. Then bake it and you’ll have no issues when trying to get the cookies off.
Some people make the mistake of using wax paper. Please never do this. Make sure that what you have is parchment paper. If you put wax paper into the oven, it will melt the wax and burn the paper. Oh, and your cookies will definitely stick to it, so you should avoid it at all costs. Once you make this mistake one time, you’ll never make it again.
Silicone Baking Mat
The reusable version of parchment paper is the silicone baking mat. This mat works in the same way as parchment paper, but you just need to wash (or just wipe) it after use.
These mats are made to fit the size of certain baking trays, meaning that you don’t have to worry about cutting them to size. They make clean up easy and they’re pretty cheap.
Although parchment paper is certainly easier in terms of clean-up (you just throw it away), a silicone mat is more long-lasting and useful for people who bake a lot.
Preheat Your Oven And Rotate The Tray
An important thing to consider is how your oven heats up. Many home ovens have hot and cold spots, which leads to uneven heating and uneven cooking. This isn’t great, especially when you’re putting large baking trays into it since one side of the tray can have perfectly baked cookies and the other side can still be raw.
For this reason, you need to make sure that you’re preheating the oven and making sure to rotate the baking tray at least once during baking.
You should aim to preheat your oven for at least 30 minutes before you plan on baking your cookies so you can ensure the entire oven gets hot. By preheating it far in advance, you’re allowing the heat to spread evenly around the oven, which minimizes hot and cold spots and evens out the temperature.
Even when the oven has been preheated properly, there can still be some temperature fluctuations, so you should make sure to rotate the tray at least once during baking. Alternatively, you can keep an eye on the cookies and notice if one side is browning considerably faster than the other. If this is the case, rotate the tray once or twice to ensure that they bake evenly.
Take Them Off The Tray As Soon As They Firm Up
When the cookies are perfectly baked and cooling, be sure to avoid leaving them on the tray for too long, especially if you’re only using a greased tray instead of using parchment paper.
The cookies are more likely to stick as they cool, so it’s important to take them off the tray as soon as they get firm enough to hold their shape. Transfer them directly to a cooling rack for the best results.
How To Remove Stuck Cookies
Although it might seem like your cookies are unsalvageable when they’ve stuck to the tray, you might be able to get them off if you’re lucky.
Unfortunately, there’s no magic solution to this. All you can do is use what tools you have at hand.
The most effective tool for removing cookies from the tray would be a very thin metal spatula. You can use this to slide under the cookies whilst minimizing damage to them. Simply slide the spatula under the cookie at a very shallow angle. The effectiveness of this method will vary depending on the type of cookie and how stuck it gets, but it should get at least a few of the cookies off without them breaking.
What To Do With Broken Cookie Pieces
Even if you manage to remove a few full cookies, chances are that you’re going to be left with lots of broken cookie pieces. Don’t throw these away! They can be added to other sweet treats to give more of a cookie flavor and textural contrast.
Here’s what you can do with them:
Add Them To Ice Cream
Ice cream on its own is great and all, but it’s even better with extra crunchy bits. Whether you like your toppings sprinkled on top of the ice cream or mixed in, you can do it.
All you need to do is gently crush the cookie pieces onto your chunks of whatever size and add them to your icecream.
Add Them To A Milkshake
Another great way to use up these cookie pieces is to mix them in with your milkshakes. These provide crunchy bites to an otherwise smooth drink.
The coarseness of the cookie bits is up to you. You could have a very even distribution of fine cookie pieces, or you could have chunks of the cookie distributed around the shake, so you can get a few cookie crunches in every mouthful.
Simply throw it all in a blender and blend until it looks good.
Crush Them To Make Cookie Dust
By taking your broken cookie pieces, putting them in a ziplock bag, and hammering them with a rolling pin or mallet, you can create fine cookie dust, which can go on almost anything sweet.
It could go on icecream, yogurt, brownies, or anything that makes sense to you. The possibilites are endless as long as you’re creative with it.