Anyone else feel like the holidays are quickly sneaking up behind us? My schedule is about to get very festive! This time of year many people find themselves at gatherings, pot lucks, and holiday parties.
And you know me, if I'm going to a party, I'll bring a dessert to share. The days leading up to a celebration are usually the busiest and my time for baking fresh cookies dissipates into oblivion. What to do?
Bake them ahead of time and freeze them!! This has been a life saver for me.
You have two options to help save time when making cookies. One- freeze the dough. Two- Freeze the finished product.
Freezing Cookie Dough:
You can freeze cookie dough? Absolutely, kinda you can… I know that sounds ridiculous but hear me out. You want to be mindful of the type of cookies. Cookies that freeze well include cookie balls, drop cookies, dense doughs, shortbread,slice and bake, and cut out cookies.
Freezing Drop Cookies and Balled Cookie Dough- we’re talking things like your classic cookie scoop cookie dough here. All you want to do is scoop them onto a parchment lined baking sheet (no need to leave space between) and instead of putting them into the oven, put them into the freezer. Once the dough balls are frozen, put them into a freezer bag and keep in the freezer.
When ready to bake, put the frozen balls on a cookie sheet. Thawing isn't necessary- all you have to do is add a few minutes to the baking time.
Freezing Cut out Cookies: there are two options. Cut now or cut later. For those of you who are ready to cut the cookies out now, simply cut them, place them on a parchment lined baking sheet (no need for space between) and put them in the freezer. When frozen, you can stack them and place them in a freezer bag.
If you want to cut them out later- prepare the dough and flatten into a disk. Wrap well with plastic wrap, place in a zip lock bag, and freeze. When ready to cut out- take the dough out of the freezer and leave it in the refrigerator overnight. It should be soft enough to roll out but firm enough so it's easy to work with. Warning- don't microwave the dough to thaw it. It won’t work!
Slice and Bake Cookies: think sugar cookies, for example. Those are fun if you have little ones coming who want to help. They can just cut off pieces of dough and place them on the baking sheet. You can do this with any number of types of cookies that don’t need any special shaping.
Simply roll your dough into a log or two. If you find your dough doesn't have enough structure and is falling in the middle- you can place it on one end of a piece of parchment paper, and roll the log up in the parchment paper to help give it structure.
Tip: Label the outside with the type of cookie, date made, oven temp and baking time needed or any other directions you may need.
General rule of thumb, properly wrapped dough should last up to three months in the freezer.
Freeze Finished Cookies
If you want to do the baking ahead of time and freeze your end results, here are some tips.
Cool completely- Make sure you let your cookies cool completely before freezing them. This helps the cookies avoid being freezer burned.
Packaging the cookies- line them up side by side in a single layer in your air tight container. Then use a piece of freezer paper on top to separate the layers. Repeat with remaining cookies. The freezer paper is important or you run the risk of your cookies sticking together. Don't overfill your containers- you don't want to have to smoosh the cookies to get the lid on.
Make sure your containers are airtight to help avoid freezer burn.
Thawing your Cookies- Thaw your cookies outside the container they were frozen in. This is important to avoid soggy cookies… No one wants a soggy cookie. If you really want to go above and beyond- after they have thawed, you can toss them into a low-temp oven for a few minutes to get them back to the fresh baked warm cookie of your dreams.
Decorating/frosting- If possible, save the decorating for when you thaw your cookies. Freezing decorated cookies often interferes with the integrity and appearance of the frosting
There you have it- all my tricks to make those yummy cookies on your schedule! Fresh cookies have never been more convenient!
All for now,