Cookie Recipe Basics
In all of my cookie recipes, do not substitute one type of shortening for another. If it says “margarine”, do not use butter. If it says “vegetable shortening”, do not use margarine. I can’t guarantee a recipe will work if shortening substitutions are made. In general, I am not a fan of margarine, but if you are going to make cookies, you want them to turn out as good cookies.
Most drop cookie batters begin with mixing the shortening and sugar, and then adding eggs. I always use a stand mixer and beat the shortening and sugar on high until fluffy, lower the speed to crack in the eggs, and beat again blend on high until fluffy. Then, add the combined dry ingredients and mix only until they are all mixed in.
Unless otherwise stated, I use unbleached all-purpose flour for cookies. I always measure flour for cookies by dipping a measuring cup into a large canister of flour and shaking it level. This isn’t the most scientific or re-producible method, but that’s what I do. Occasionally I’ll add a little more flour to a batter if the first pan of cookies flattens out too much.
Mixing dry ingredients
I don’t sift. I do mix with a spoon the flour and other dry ingredients (baking powder, baking soda, salt, spices) in a bowl. I use all purpose flour.
I often use the microwave. I use the high setting and check and stir every half a minute. If melting chocolate with butter or margarine, it’s often more convenient to use a pan on the stove top.
Use real chocolate chips and real vanilla.
Many of my older recipes state to bake either on greased or ungreased baking sheets. Today (2012), I bake all cookies on parchment lined half sheet pans. I haven’t re-made some of the older recipes, so some of the greased/ungreased nomenclature may be included in the recipes. It actually can make a difference in how the cookies “bake up”, meaning, how much they spread out as they bake.
And always preheat your oven before putting in the cookies.