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Cookies — some are round, some are square, some are chewy, and some are crunchy, but no matter what they look like, cookies consistently top the list of America’s favorite baked goods. For many of us, cookies are the very first thing that we learned to make in the kitchen; because they don't require the use of sharp objects or direct heat, they’re safe for young, beginner cooks. Not only are cookies relatively simple to make, but baking a batch can teach us important basic foundations and principles about cooking and baking in general.
Cookies taught us to be precise in the kitchen: Many of us learned that if we were not careful in preparing the ingredients for a cookie recipe, the results were unsatisfactory — too much flour would result in a thick and cakey cookie, while butter that was too soft would cause the cookies to run all over the sheet pan. Cookie recipes taught us to be observant and careful: When blending the ingredients for a cookie together, which for many of us was in a stand mixer, we were taught to do it under a watchful eye, looking for indicators in the dough to know when it was ready, and to do it slowly so that each of the ingredients was carefully mixed in and the flour didn’t spray everywhere.
Cookies taught us to be consistent. The final step of making cookies is placing them on a sheet pan and whether you’re making chocolate chip cookies or gingerbread men, the goal is to be consistent so that they bake evenly. Lastly, cookies taught us to be appreciative of cooking. Can anyone object to the fact that there’s often nothing better than a freshly baked chocolate chip cookie, warm and soft and dripping with melted chocolate chips? Cookies demonstrate to us that sometimes, some things are just better when they're homemade, and this is a sentiment that the Cook editors carry with us every day as we develop new recipes and cooking techniques to share with our readers.
There are many archetypal recipes that fall under the cookie category and here we have outlined the best versions of classic cookie recipes to honor cookies and everything they’ve done for us. If you are craving a beloved snickerdoodle, cookie queen Kathleen King of Tate's Bake Shop has what you're looking for — moist with the perfect amount of spicy. And for sugar cookie lovers, pastry chef Nancy Olson demonstrates that a few simple ingredients can create bold and flavorful results. There’s even something a little unconventional, a white chocolate macadamia nut cookie from award-winning baker Nancy Bagget's cookbook Simply Sensational Cookies that gets its rich taste from browned butter and toasted nuts. Along with their recipes, these cookie experts share their tips on how to craft the perfect cookie, whether you're following a traditional recipe or making a new one of your own.
Anne Dolce is the Cook Editor at The Daily Meal. Follow her on Twitter @anniecdolce
This post was originally published on October 17, 2012.