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Some of the most beautiful and decorative cookies are molded by hand or given a detailed and decorated surface by molds. Cookies are molded in different ways:
Generally rich in butter, hand-formed cookies can be simple, but generally tend to be fancy, because there is lots you can do with the pliable dough they are made from. They can be formed into assorted shapes, as opposed to those that are rolled and cut out with a cookie cutter or molded with a cookie mold or stamp.
Small portions of dough can be hand- formed into balls, such as Mexican wedding cookies, or crescents, braids, logs, rings, pretzels, etc. and then rolled in sugar or nuts before baking. Others are filled with jam, like thumbprint cookies, dropped and flattened with fork tines in a crisscross pattern, such as the popular peanut butter cookies, or baked as a loaf and then cut into strips and baked again, such as biscotti. They are often time-consuming to shape, since each morsel of dough must be individually crafted. Some hand-formed cookies are shaped after baking, while they are still warm, such as pirouettes or fortune cookies.
1. To keep cookies consistent in size, they can formed by a cookie scoop or any other consistent measure, such as a spoon.
SARAH SAYS: I like to weigh my portioned cookie dough to keep a consistent size.
2. When rolling cookie dough into balls, if done by hand oil or grease your hands. Don't use flour because excess can cause the cookie to be tough. Also, don't handle the dough too long.
3. If a recipe has you make dough "snakes" or strands, use very little flour on the work surface. Silpat Mats are the perfect rolling surface and does not need any flour.
4. If need be, use a ruler as a guide.
NOTES: The cookie dough can be refrigerated in a covered bowl, then shaped and baked a day or two later. Or the cookies can be shaped right away on foil-lined baking sheets and frozen, securely wrapped, for up to a week. The last step is to bake them. Some cookies retain their shape during baking, while others flatten slightly and become crinkly on top.
Biscotti: The delicate, flavorful Italian cookie is perfect for dipping into a steaming cappuccino or as an accompaniment to ice cream or a glass of wine, biscotti are endlessly versatile. They can be covered with chocolate, embellished with spices or nuts or kept in their simple, sophisticated original form. Light and healthy, they adapt easily to both casual and formal occasions.
SARAH SAYS: When making biscotti or other hand-shaped cookies, dampen your hands with water to keep the dough from sticking to them.
Biscotti are cut into individual cookies when the baked dough is still warm. It's easier to cut it into individual cookies with an electric knife rather than with a sharp, serrated one. You'll have less crumbling if you do.
Lace Cookies: are a familiar hand shaped cookie. But what makes them even better than just the run-of-the-mill ones, is that they can be shaped into bow ties, cones, or cannoli. The cookies can then dipped in melted chocolate or filled, changing from cookies to fancy finger desserts or a tasty garnish. Nuts are the heart of lace cookies. You can use any nut you want. Pecans make delicate lacy cookies while almonds make them strong--good for shaping. And they’re forgiving. If they harden, pop them in the oven for a minute.
Most Lace Cookie Recipes ask you to add the flour to the melted butter (my recipes here do not). The problem is that the flour clumps up when mixed with a hot fat (just like when making gravy). If you have a recipe like this, to fix it, place 3 tablespoons of flour in a bowl. Start by adding 1 teaspoon of fat to it to make a paste. You may need more fat. Then, whisk the paste into the hot fat in the pan (removed from heat). Continue until all of the flour has been blended into the hot fat. Proceed with recipe.
USING COOKIE MOLDS
Formed with a Mold:
Cookies are formed by pressing the mold into the dough or vice versa, removing the mold, trimming and then baking the cookie. Molds can be made out of ceramic or wood, and are readily available at cookware stores and on the internet. Ceramic molds have become collectors
There are some steps to follow when making these types of cookies because they can be tricky. The hardest part can be getting the cookie out of the mold to bake.
1. Spray pan with vegetable oil spray. Make sure you get every nook and cranny. Lightly press with a paper towel to wipe out excess oil. Dust lightly with flour. You will have to re-flour the mold before each cookie, but do not oil it again.
2. Get the cookie dough into the mold. There are two ways:
First, lightly dust the top of the dough that will face the mold cavity. 1. I like to cut a piece of the dough large enough to accommodate the cavity of the mold. That way you are less likely to press too much dough into the mold, causing it to stick and it will be easier to work with. Press the mold into the dough lightly, but firmly. If you push too hard, the molded cookie may not come out. Immediately remove the mold; or, 2. Press the dough into the mold and use a ball of dough to help. To do, take a piece of dough and press it into the mold. Press firmly all over, adding more dough if needed. Trim the dough even with the top of the form. Roll a bit of extra dough into a ball. Push dough ball against a bit of the dough in the mold. Pull the dough ball up from the mold and the dough in the mold will adhere to the dough ball and pull way from the mold.
SARAH SAYS: If the cookie dough sticks to the mold, let the cookie dough sit uncovered for about 20 minutes to dry. Another way is to start by digging loose one corner of the dough, and then inverting it over a baking pan. If the dough doesn't come out, here are two suggestions: If having trouble removing the dough from mold, place in freezer for 20 to 30 minutes, then gently press on the back of mold to release dough. Or, hold the mold at a 45-degree angle away from you and gently tap the far end against a work surface. The dough should come out more easily.
Formed & Baked in Molds:
Some cookies are baked in molds, such as Shortbread, Madeleine's, and others are an American tradition.
Information for shortbread:
1. Every time you use the pan, spray it with vegetable oil spray. Make sure you get every nook and cranny. Lightly press with a paper towel to wipe out excess oil. Dust lightly with flour.
2. Press dough into the cavities of the mold and add a lollipop stick if desired. Press firmly all over, adding more dough if needed.
3. Prick the entire surface with the tines of a fork. This is so the steam can escape and the dough won't buckle and warp during baking.
4. Leave dough in pan & bake. Place the filled mold on a cookie sheet. Bake in a preheated oven. Check frequently for doneness. After the cookies bake and are removed from the oven, let them stand a minute or two. Then, unmold and arrange cookies right side up on a wire cake rack to cool.
SARAH SAYS: To make a 2-toned cookie: Mix up at least two colors of cookie dough, such as vanilla and chocolate, using the same base recipe. You can color sugar cookie dough with food color. Press a small amount of dough into the cavity of the mold that you want colored differently. Gently press the other color on top of that.
Cookie stamps come in all sorts of designs and shapes. They are pressed into cookie dough and then lifted, resulting in a design. Before baking, the designs are trimmed.
General tips for success:
1. Chill cookie dough if required in the recipe.
2. Spray Ceramic Stamps with a cooking oil spray. Lightly dust with flour. Tap the mold to remove any.
SARAH SAYS: You will have to re-flour the mold before each cookie, but do not re-oil it.
3. Take a piece of dough and roll it into approximately a 2-1/2-inch ball. Place several of them 4- to 5-inches apart on a greased cookie sheet.
4. Press each ball firmly with the stamp. Before removing stamp, cut excess dough with a sharp knife around the edge. Remember that the edges of the cookie will generally crack from pressing the stamp into the dough; but not all of the time.
5. Bake as directed until they just start to brown around the edges.
Are made by pressing square "tile shaped" molds in the cookie dough and then lifted, resulting in a beautiful design. Before baking, the designs are trimmed.
1. Mix-up dough recipe which holds its shape when baked. Chill dough if required in the recipe.
2. Lightly oil & flour your tile. Spray each tile with cooking spray. Gently press a a paper towel to wipe off excess. Dust the stamp with flour. Gently tap the edge of the tile on the counter to remove any excess flour.
SARAH SAYS: You will have to re-flour the mold before each cookie, but do not re-oil it.
3. Roll the dough into a oval shape big enough to accommodate the mold, and place about 4-inches apart on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper.
4. Press tile into the dough on cookie sheet. Before removing, use a sharp knife to trim around the edges. Carefully lift off tile.
5. Bake according to the recipe, until they just start to brown around the edges.
1. It's important to choose a cookie recipe that will keep its shape when baked, or its details will be lost.
2. The cookie dough should also be pliable for use in a mold. If it is too dry, the mold will not make a good impression on it and will crack easily.
3. Use an appropriate mold that is free of lead or other chemicals.
4. When a recipe says to oil and flour a mold or prepare it, it means: re-flour the mold before each cookie, but do not oil it again.
5. Spray the desired mold with a cooking spray; this I prefer. Or, use soft, not melted butter or shortening, and apply with a pastry brush. Make sure you get every nook and cranny. Lightly press with a paper towel to wipe out excess oil or butter.
6. To dust a mold with flour, apply a thin coat and tap around the mold so all surfaces are covered. Turn the mold over and tap it against the work surface to get rid of the excess.
7. If baking cookies out of the mold, place on a greased or preferably a parchment lined cookie sheet to bake.
8. Cool cookies right side up on a wire cake rack
9. Store cookies properly.
QUESTION: Can you bake cookie dough in a regular character pan used for cakes, or are the cookie pans different?
SARAH SAYS: Yes, you can use the character cake pans for cookies. Take your favorite cookie recipe that makes 2 dozen cookies or one package of refrigerator dough, lightly spray pan and then press dough into pan so it's not too thick, making it even on top. Bake according to package directions -- if you have a problem with the cookie baking all the way through, reduce the oven heat by 25 degrees F. Eat and enjoy!